Yvette, Brandeis University, lived in Hässelby, a district in western Stockholm. DIS reached out to Yvette about her favorite memories with her host family and what makes living in a Homestay so special.
DIS: Hi Yvette! Tell us about your Homestay – who are they and what makes them special to you?
Yvette C.: Coming from a very small family of just my mom and older sister, I entered into my Homestay not really knowing what to expect out of my host family. What I found was a welcoming family with loving parents and two younger children, not to forget the extensive amount of friendly relatives living not too far as well, that took me in with open arms.
They’re very special to me because I never had the experience of being a part of something bigger than my small bubble of three. To have very foreign concepts of family get-togethers or big family breakfasts every weekend offered to me with so much love is something I really appreciate.
DIS: Why did you choose to live in a Homestay?
YC: I wanted to be immersed into Sweden’s culture as much as I could during my short time here. I think that it is an invaluable experience that I won’t really have the opportunity to get any other time so I took it the minute it was being offered!
DIS: What is one of the biggest cultural differences you have discovered between your Homestay and your family back at home?
YC: The biggest cultural difference is definitely how much more my host family values being outside and exercising compared to my family back home. As a student-athlete, I really value being active but it has always been something that I’ve had to do on my own. My host family here always wants to be doing some type of activity during the day when not at work.
My host dad and host mom are both incredible squash players so they always offer to take me to play and my host siblings love basketball so they are always out and about.
DIS: What is something you or your hosts initiated in the first week together that was a good icebreaker to get to know each other?
YC: I brought with me a board game as a present from the U.S. so that it would be a good icebreaker for the first night. I ended up sleeping way too early so we never got to it, but they took me around the city the next day and afterward went to a family party on a boat! They kept me really busy the first week and that definitely helped me get more comfortable with the environment and with them as well.
DIS: What is your favorite small moment you’ve shared with your family so far?
YC: My favorite small moment is definitely the first time I played squash with my host dad. I wouldn’t necessarily say this is a small moment considering how he is the best squash player in Sweden for his age group, so it was pretty monumental for me personally. He was really patient and taught me so much, but never let me win considering how he’ll always be the most competitive person I’ve met thus far!
DIS: What is an example of a cultural insight that you have gained that your Homestay has taught you?
YC: In general, I learn a lot about the Swedish way of life from asking my host family questions. It’s kind of like a cultural exchange which is always so fun. I’ve learned so much about topics like Swedish healthcare, education, political views, just by asking during dinner time.
DIS: What is an experience you’ve had living with your Homestay that you couldn’t have had if you hadn’t lived with them?
YC: If I had not lived with my host family, I definitely would not have met so many Swedes of all age ranges and experiences. They have introduced me to their family right from the start and since then they have been inviting me to go wherever they go to meet up with their other family and friends. I think part of the experience here is to branch outside of the familiar college lifestyle where we only really associate with students our age.
DIS: What is one thing you would recommend to a future student considering choosing a Homestay?
YC: I recommend discussing with your host family any rules in the house and any preferences that you have right away, like the first week. I did that with my host family and it worked out really well because I was never unsure of my role or place within the home. New situations at home are bound to come up, so if you don’t know what to do, ask!
Are you thinking about living in a Homestay for your semester with DIS?