With my Milan abroad experience just recently wrapped, I wanted to share why I chose to do a homestay.
Funny enough it was a last minute decision for me. At first, I was slated to live in an apartment setting and couldn’t wait to have my own place in a fun area along with other IES Abroad students. Three reasons why I chose to live in a apartment were:
- I have my own space to come home to after a long day.
- I can easily meet other students.
- Amenities and location
So what made me change my mind? It came down to my priorities and the goals I wanted to accomplish while I was abroad. My number one goal was to learn Italian. The downside of living in apartments and some dorm settings is that because you are surrounded by other IES Abroad students, you resort to speaking English and it can be tough to practice your new Italian skills. Once I moved in with my Italian host family, my mornings started with Italian and my host-siblings were more than happy to help me with my language learning (and poke a bit of fun at my American accent). They were patient with my mistakes and were always willing to help me with homework as well. Living with an Italian family exposed me to a lot more contextual language learning as well! I picked up Italian way faster than I thought I would, which made my time in Milan much more meaningful.
Another priority I had going into my study abroad was to assimilate into local culture and create lifelong connections with people in Italy so I have people to visit in the future. After chatting with study abroad alums before making my decisions, many of them told me they wish they would’ve made more connections with people who lived locally. Now after living with my host family for 4+ months, I am already receiving the invitation to come back and stay with them next time I find myself in Europe.
Since I’m a senior, I’m on the job hunt and with graduation nearing, I really wanted to get serious about what I could be doing as a career and where I could be living. By having a homestay family I have been able to connect with so many people through social gatherings, outings and referrals! It opened up a totally different world of networking and I was also able to meet more local students my age! I was introduced to other Italian families and gained friends all over Milan and beyond.
Living with a homestay family made me feel like a local and I assimilated pretty fast into daily Italian life. My family helped set me up with a sim card, they took me on the Metropolitana for the first time and showed me my work routes and they gave me tons of advice and tips for living in Milan. They also helped me get groceries for the first time, which can be really daunting in a foreign country. Because of them, I found out about so many local events and they were more than willing to share their hidden gems with me! My US to Italy transition was smooth and painless because I always had support and help for any questions I had.
My family’s apartment was located in a poppin’ area of town just minutes from the IES Abroad center. It was a super friendly neighborhood with tons of families and students and there were markets every week, amazing restaurants and cool bars. My private bedroom and bathroom were amazing to come home to after a long day and my balcony was the perfect place to sit in the sun and relax. During the week I had an amazing home cooked meal to come home to and we were able to chat about our days, laugh at each other’s jokes and help solve each other’s problems. It was also so nice to have a dog around, especially because I was missing mine :)
If I could tell you anything, it would be to do a homestay! I know it can be out of a lot of people's comfort zone (mine too) but the rewards are endless.
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Hello! I'm Olivia and I'm currently a senior at the University of Missouri studying Marketing, Economics and Fashion. I have a love for all things fashion, beauty and travel related and a knack for diving head first into new experiences. This semester you can find me exploring and interning in Milan and trying to find the best Aperol Spritz in Italy!