Olivia, Harvard University, lived in Vanløse – a neighborhood at the western edge of the Copenhagen Municipality – during her semester abroad. Hear about Olivia’s experience living in a Homestay:
DIS: Tell us about your homestay – who are they and what makes them special to you?
Olivia C: I live with an amazing host family – Marc and Mette and their three kids (Anna – 18, Emil – 15, and Klara – 6). They are super warm and welcoming and in general, a funny, dynamic family. We’re always talking to each other about one thing or another and there have been many laughs in between.
DIS: Why did you choose homestay?
OC: Last spring, I was debating between the Living & Learning Community, Kollegium, and Homestay options. I had many conversations with friends at home about it but never really came up with a final decision. Fast forward to the night before the housing application was due. I was actually interning in Amsterdam last summer and ended up doing the application SUPER last minute because I realized that the application was not due at 12AM Amsterdam time but 12AM USA time.
In Amsterdam, I felt really alone living by myself in an apartment, and I missed living with a bunch of different, dynamic people like I did at Harvard. I wanted to feel like I was a part of a family and really get something out of my abroad experience (even if I wasn’t sure what exactly I was looking for). I ended up putting homestay as my first choice and I am so happy I made that decision. It has grounded so much of my experience here.
DIS: What is the biggest cultural difference so far you have discovered between your homestay here and your family back at home?
OC: I actually think I fit in quite well into my host family and sometimes it’s hard to notice true cultural differences (in terms of lifestyle, that is)! I will say, though, that my host family’s life is very centered around sports – a classic Danish thing. Everyone’s involved in a sport, running in and out of practice, going to the gym, or going to some match all the time. I’m sure there are plenty of families in the U.S. that are like this, but it’s definitely been different for me to be around such a physically active family whose life can center around it (though I doubt they see it that way!)
DIS: What is something you or your hosts initiated in your first week together that was a good icebreaker to get to know each other?
OC: My host family took me out to Copenhagen on my first weekend here and I thought that was a great way for us to get to know each other. They shared what they knew about the city and their own experiences that they have had in the city. Besides that, I would say that having meals with them, in general, have been great opportunities to talk about anything and everything!
DIS: What is your favorite small moment you’ve shared with your family so far?
OC: I have so many small moments – it is hard to choose from! Once, my six-year-old host sister was whispering to her parents (I find it hilarious that she whispers to them because it’s not like I understand what she’s saying anyway). But it turns out she was asking them how to say something to me. She then smiles at me and says “you are beautiful”.
DIS: Tell us one thing you would recommend to a future student considering choosing a homestay?
OC: One thing I would recommend to a future student considering a homestay is to just do it. You will probably spend most of your young adult life living in an apartment with other young people, which is what LLCs and Kollegiums offer. You may never get the opportunity to live with a foreign family (perhaps besides your own haha) after study abroad.
I also think some people believe that they will struggle to make friends if they are in a homestay. I encourage you to make an effort to make friends with other homestay students – trust me, you will have things to bond over.
Video Feature: Olivia and Elise Talk about Living in a Homestay
Ever thought about what separates a Homestay from other housing options? Olivia and Elise share their experiences about how living in a Homestay has shaped their abroad experience.