How To Be A Great Host Family Guest

Best said by U.S. founding father Benjamin Franklin, who had a gift for wit, “fish and visitors smell after three days”. This article will help to dispel the basis behind this quote. While studying abroad, one will often find themselves in a host family, or in German, a “Gastfamilie.” Here, we spill our tips on how to be a great host family guest.

  1. Honesty is the best policy.

    Having a host family is always slightly awkward at first – you’re unsure if you should take that second… or third serving. Good news is, it’s not just you, your host family probably feels awkward too, so don’t be shy to ask how they run things. Go ahead and ask if you are unsure about something and don’t be shy to go for that third serving! I know I definitely feel like I am freeloading off of another family sometimes, but at the end of the day, don’t be scared to simply ask… after all, they do sign up to be a host family!

    great host family guest keep it real

  2. Enthusiasm is key!

    Your host family wants to get to know you. If they are going on a hike, slap on some sunscreen and put those hiking shoes on! The best way to get over the initial awkward stage is to spend time with them and get involved in what they are doing, you know, like you would with your normal family.

    great host family guest do it

  3. Blending in.

    If your host family says, “our home is your home,” take them up on that offer! Make yourself comfortable, but also try to go along with the norms of their family. Try to tidy up after yourself, offer to clear the kitchen or set the tables, and try not to be too loud after quiet hours in their home.

    great host family guest hiding

  4. When in doubt, laugh it off.

    My host family is a local German family and so it’s no surprise their go-to language is German. Unfortunately, mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut… so we usually speak English. Understandably, there are some (many, many, many) awkward moments where a joke does not deliver or a pop culture reference is misused. My best advice? Laugh! I am a serious veteran of this as I usually leave my host family feeling like my face really got a workout.

    great host family guest awkward

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Ellen is a New Yorker who's love of travel started when studying at United World Colleges (UWC)'s Robert Bosch College.

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