• How can a student best be prepared for his homestay experience?
  • Having realistic expectations about what it really means to live in a foreign country will make a huge difference. As a tourist in the United States, it is easy to immediately notice all the differences from a home country. These differences are greatly increased when living with an American family. For example, the food will be different, meal times will be different, and what is considered “tidy” will be different. However, the friendships made will be as wonderful as those made at home. Overall, in order for a student to be happy in his homestay, he must understand that life will be very different – without this understanding, students can easily suffer from culture shock upon arrival.
  • Special Note: It is especially important to bo prepared for the type of food that is eaten in the United States – it can be quick and heavy and very different from what students are accustomed to.
  • How many students will be in the homestay at the same time?
  • Some families accept only one student at a time, while others might receive more. If a family accepts more than one student, NESE makes every effort not to place students who speak the same language in the same homestay, whenever possible.
  • Which meals are provided?
  • Although breakfast is provided every day, in the United States, breakfast is often a meal that is eaten “on the run”. Students should not expect a cooked breakfast, and may, in fact, be expected to help themselves to this meal. Students should also know that from time to time a homestay might go out for an evening, and dinner will be left for him in the fridge. When dinner is eaten together as a family, it is often eaten early, for example around 6:00 pm.
  • What is the food in an American homestay like?
  • Americans do not place as much importance on dining as people in many other countries do. Meals are often quickly prepared, quickly eaten and the food may be heavier than what you are accustomed to. Although the food and customs may be different, you will learn about life here in the US both by eating as an American does and by spending time talking with your host family during meals. Please know that for breakfast, you can expect cold cereal and breads, and you will probably eat this meal alone. It is important to know that Americans usually eat dinner early (approximately 6:00 or 6:30 PM).
  • Is smoking permitted?
  • Every year, smoking becomes less and less common in the United States. Because of this, NESE has only a few homestays that permit students to smoke in the home. A number of homestays still accept students who smoke but students are required to smoke outside. It is critical that a student not lie about his smoking as this would provide the homestay with grounds to ask that the student be removed from the home and the student would be charged $250.
  • How far are the homestays from NESE?
  • NESE is aware that distance to the school is a very important criterion for students, and NESE does its best to find high quality homestays as close to the school as possible. However, as Harvard Square is a university area, appropriate homestay families do not tend to live in the immediate vicinity. Given this understanding, students should expect that it takes, on average, 30 minutes to get to NESE via public transportation.  This transportation is usually a combination of bus and subway. Most NESE homestays are located in the suburbs of Boston and Cambridge in areas such as Newton, Somerville, Belmont, Arlington, and Brookline.
  • To whom should the student pay his homestay fee?
  • Students make all homestay payments to NESE, and NESE, in turn, pays the host family. NESE specifically requests that host families do not make private payment arrangements with students.
  • Can a student make a special request?
  • While NESE makes every effort to accommodate students’ special requests, certain requests can be very difficult to meet. Examples include a request for a family that will allow an hour of piano practice each day, a family that provides Kosher food, a family that provides a private TV, a family that lives very close to NESE, or a family with young children.
  • How new (modern) will the house be?
  • Most houses in Boston are at least 100 years old and most are built of wood. Although all of these homes have modern conveniences, the houses probably will not have a modern design. In fact, most people in the Boston area consider old houses to be special. In addition, most families do not use professional interior decorators when furnishing their homes. Further, if you are planning to come to NESE in the summer months, please know that many host families don’t have air conditioning. Many host families have Internet, but please understand that not all of them do.
  • How clean will my homestay be?
  • Homestays will be clean and livable according to US standards. It is helpful to remember that these standards can be different from those in your country. You can expect to see clutter (books, papers, shoes and toys around the house and on the floor) in most homes. In other words, a typical house is clean, but cluttered. Host families don’t have servants to clean and manage their homes and the family itself is responsible for the cleaning and maintenance of the house.
  • What will my host family be like?
  • Most host families are busy working or middle class people. An American host family may consist of one or two working adults and/or older, retired people. The family may or may not have children of its own and may be of any race or religion, as Boston is a diverse city. It is also very common for host families to have pets inside the home. Finally, most families have more than one student living in their home.
  • Why is the family hosting foreign students?
  • Host families enjoy opening their homes to international students, and learning about the world from the students they host. The families also seek to add to their household income by hosting students.
  • How will my host family behave towards me?
  • Your host family will welcome you and enjoy getting to know you. They will expect you to follow certain practices that are common in the US and to be respectful of the family’s rules regarding meal times, water use, conserving electricity, etc. (For example, it is common in the United States to take one shower per day rather than two or three.) Your host family may also introduce you to their own extended families and friends and you will increase your understanding of the United States by spending time with your host family. It is also very possible that you will remain friends with your host family for many years in the future.
  • I am a parent and my teenager is coming to NESE. Will a host family take care of my child the way I would?
  • In the United States, adolescents are given a great deal of freedom and they are expected to be quite independent. Therefore, if you are a parent considering what housing your teenager should have, please know that a host family will not require that your teenager report what he has been doing in his spare time. The host family will not bring your teenager to and from school and your teenager will need to commute to and from NESE using public transportation. The host family will not stay awake if your teenager arrives home late (after 11PM) and will expect that he can take care of his own basic needs. NESE understands that if you are sending your teen to live in an American family, you trust that he will make intelligent choices for himself while living in Boston.



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