The Study Abroad Dilemma: Homestay vs. Apartment

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Christina Zogopoulou
October 15, 2023

Studying abroad is a transformative experience, offering a unique blend of academic growth, cultural immersion, and personal development. One of the most critical decisions you'll make when preparing for your overseas adventure is choosing your accommodation. The choice between a homestay and an apartment is a dilemma that many international students face, and it ultimately boils down to personal preferences and priorities.

In my case, I chose to live in an apartment during my study abroad experience, and it has been an incredible journey so far. However, my friends who opted for homestays also have their own reasons to cherish their choice. In this blog, I'll share my own perspective on the homestay vs. apartment debate, highlighting why I chose the latter and how it has enriched my experience abroad.

As someone who appreciates personal space and independence, the idea of having my own apartment appealed to me from the beginning. I went to an international boarding school in high school and had four roommates. In college I had a roommate both years, too. Even though I love my roommates so so much, I have really wanted to live by myself for a really long time to allow myself to grow more as a person. Choosing an apartment gave me the freedom to set my own schedule, decorate my space as I liked, and live without the constraints of a family's daily routines. I am able to shop for groceries at neighborhood markets, cook my meals, and explore the city at my own pace.  I do not have a specific dinner time, nor do I need to text my host parents if I am coming back late or having a sleep-over. I am also able to invite friends over for movie nights or just hang out whenever I want, while that is not usually an option when you are doing homestay (maybe you can invite yourself a few times, but not that frequently.) 

Furthermore, the apartments have a great view (check out the pic I included below) while also providing you with a small kitchen, a pool, and a gym. Here in Argentina, it can be complicated to go to the gym, since you first need to go to the doctor to get a health check. This has discouraged many people from going to the gym here, so having access to own in the building is really great. 

While I love the independence the option of apartments has given me, some of my friends who chose homestays have also had wonderful experiences. Living with a host family provides a unique opportunity to gain insights into the local culture, traditions, and way of life on a deeper level. Sometimes, I have heard people complaining that they do not like the food of the host family or that their families did not align with their political values, but still they would not change it because it is still an experience. The main advantage that keeps coming up when I talk to my friends who do homestay is language practice. If being fluent in Spanish is one of your priorities, then you should do it. You get to practice Spanish for around 1-2 hours every day. However, keep in mind that if you want to practice Spanish, but also could not live in a homestay, there are many other ways to do it. For example, there are meetings of locals and internationals around the city for that purpose around 3-4 times a week (it's called mundolingo, and locations change every time.) Furthermore, it is pretty easy to meet people from Argentina. IES Abroad also gives you the opportunity to have a language partner who you can meet with at your availability to practice Spanish. My point is that there are many ways to practice Spanish, and if you put in the effort, you will definitely get better at it. Therefore, doing homestay is a great advantage for language acquisition, but it is not the only way. 

Lastly, I wanted to talk about the financial aspect of it. For me, my university provided me with a stipend, so there was not really a difference in pricing between apartments and homestay. However, I understand that this is not the case for everyone. If you want to save some money, then homestay would definitely be the way to go! However, keep in mind that groceries in Argentina are very cheap, so the cost would not be a lot, but it is still an extra cost if your university does not cover it. 

In conclusion, the choice between a homestay and an apartment for studying abroad ultimately comes down to personal priorities and needs. It's essential to consider your individual preferences, learning goals, and the type of experience you want to gain from your time abroad.

For me, the apartment has provided the perfect blend of independence and cultural immersion, helping me practice my Spanish and embrace the local lifestyle. However, I understand that my friends' positive experiences with homestays reflect their own priorities and desires.

Whether you opt for a homestay or an apartment, both choices offer unique opportunities and can lead to life-changing experiences. The key is to carefully evaluate your needs and preferences, and make the decision that aligns best with your goals for your study abroad adventure. After all, the beauty of studying abroad lies in its ability to shape an experience that's truly your own.

christina zogopoulou headshot

Christina Zogopoulou

I am a travel enthusiast; originally from Greece but have lived in three different continents, including Asia, Europe, and North America. I am excited to live in Buenos Aires and love the constant movement of the city and its vibrant culture.

Home University:
Claremont McKenna College
International Relations
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