What are homestay programs, anyway?
At first thought, ‘home’ and ‘travel’ may not seem exactly synonymous. The very sound of the word ‘home’ conducts a delightful sense of warmth in hearts and evokes the sentiment of belonging, love, and comfort. ‘Travel’ also generates warmth in our hearts, but does so by awakening a sense of excitement and wonder of the unknown that never fails to get our blood pumping.
So what happens when you mash these two ideas together? You get homestay programs! Living with a local family as you travel abroad is the best way to immerse in your new culture, make new connections, and –ultimately– get the most out of your time abroad. So really, ‘home’ and ‘travel’ complement each other beautifully and the product is manifested as any one of these nine hella rad homestay programs abroad:
Alternative spring break homestay programs for teens
Instead of spending spring break sleeping until noon and binge watching Friends AGAIN, opt into these alternative spring break homestay programs.
1. Spanish and Surf in Costa Rica with Nosara Spanish Institute
Immerse yourself in the warm waters and knowledge of expert instructors on the beaches of Nosara, Costa Rica. Whether you're a novice or advanced-level surfer and/or Spanish-speaker, this program combines one of the best surf breaks in Costa Rica with an intensive Spanish program.
Pros: You get to spend spring break on a gorgeous beach in Costa Rica. Nowhere is quite as beautiful inside and out as the land of pura vida.
Cons: With all the English speakers running amok, it will be easy to revert back to your mother tongue instead of practicing your new Spanish skills. You just have to commit! This will be easier to do in your homestay program.
Ready to travel? See all homestay programs in Costa Rica
2. Conservation in Thailand with Projects Abroad
Get your PADI diving certification and use it for good off the shores of Thailand. Observe and study the extent of reef damage and its impact on fish populations, work to conserve a marine ecosystem, and assist with beach cleanup and reforestation work.
Pros: Thailand is brimming with adventure. When you need to dry off, there will be plenty of on-shore adventures with your name on them!
Cons: Much of Thailand practices the Buddhist religion and follows a conservative way of life. Be respectful of beliefs and customs and, even though it’s hot, try to keep your shoulders and knees covered whenever possible.
Ready to travel? See all homestay programs in Thailand
3. Volunteer in Ghana with OGVO
Volunteering in Ghana will open your eyes and your heart as you fall in love with vibrant cities, coastal beaches, African wildlife, and the lives you touch as you make your positive impact. Get ready to hear: Akwabba! Welcome to Ghana!
Pros: Often called “Africa for beginners,” Ghana is considered one of the safest and most stable countries in Africa. Be sure to hit this selling point hard when you petition to get your parental permission slip signed.
Cons: There is nothing quite as eye opening as volunteering in a place where the people are dealing with very real challenges. You will undoubtedly hear stories and see things that will break your heart, but will teach you about true resilience. It will be incredibly hard, but you will go home more open-minded and appreciative after a homestay in Ghana.
Ready to travel? See all homestay programs in Ghana
[KEEP READING: Living with a Host Family: Homestays 101]
Summer teen homestay programs
Didn’t we just convince you not to spend spring break sleeping late and binge-watching? Why spend your summer that way, too? Instead, opt for any of these summer homestay programs abroad.
4. Peace Studies in South Korea with The Experiment in International Living
Journey through Korea’s past and present during a summer of peace studies and cultural immersion. The program includes language instruction, visits to historical and cultural sites, a community service project, and numerous opportunities to experience Korean food and popular culture.
Pros: The food. Oh, the food. Kimchi. Bibimbap. Noodles. Dumplings. Stews. Your host mother will hook you UP.
Cons: Adapting to your new surroundings while you study abroad in South Korea may be challenging at times, as you will be in the midst of an entirely new culture and language. Put your best foot forward to assimilate, however, and you will fall in love with the country.
Ready to travel? See all homestay programs in South Korea
5. Exploration and Service Learning in India with Where There Be Dragons
Explore India by getting the skinny from scholars, climate scientists, and Buddhist philosophers as they dig deep into the traditions and culture in India. You will also visit herding camps, volunteer on environmental projects, and do some seriously amazing trekking!
Pros: India offers a beautiful opportunity to let go of rigid Western schedules and busy-ness and simply live life day-by-day (no wonder yoga originated here!).
Cons: Western amenities, such as hot water, Wi-Fi, and flushing toilets may be sparse. However, you may find it refreshing when you realize how little you actually need.
Ready to travel? See all homestay programs in India
6. Language Immersion in Italy with SPI Study Abroad
Study the Italian language, culture, and history, while experiencing la dolce vita. You will take your Italian classes in the morning, participate in afternoon activities, enjoy excursions around Italy, and get to experience local festivals and events!
Pros: Eat up the beautiful scenery with a side of handmade noodles lathered with Nonna’s love-infused tomato sauce.
Cons: Italians don’t have the greatest reputation for fluency in other languages. It’s best to try and pick up as much of the language as you can before you go. Good thing you’ll have a host family to help you!
Ready to travel? See all homestay programs in Italy
Semester-long homestay programs
Another year wandering through your high school hallway might be starting to sound a little dull. Instead of listening to the will-they-won’t-they of your fellow classmates (will Johnny and Emily ever make it official? WHO CARES?!), broaden your educational horizons with these long-term homestay programs abroad.
7. Experiential Learning in Japan with AFS Intercultural Programs
Aspiring samurai warriors and young geishas are invited to be students in Japan with experiential learning. Learn the true meaning of wa (group harmony) when you fully immerse yourself in Japanese home and school life.
Pros: Japan will blow your mind. While the Japanese place a lot of emphasis on tradition, the aesthetics of the country are ultramodern and almost futuristic.
Cons: Japanese society highly values education and students are expected to work hard. Slackers need not apply.
Ready to travel? See all homestay programs in Japan
8. Be an Exchange Student in Australia with Greenheart Travel
Take part in a high school exchange program in Australia! You will get the opportunity to take part in exciting school-based activities, such as music, adventure trips, and weekend sports, all while immersing yourself in the Aussie way of life.
Pros: Sun. Sand. Surf. Good vibes. What more could you ask for in homestay programs?
Cons: So, you thought you were getting off easy choosing a homestay abroad in a country that speaks English? Well, Aussie slang may as well be a different language, but your new mates will be keen as to teach you the lingo.
Ready to travel? See all homestay programs in Australia
9. Spend a Semester in Cuba with Carpe Diem Education
Learn Spanish and how to dance with some serious rhythm when you do a homestay abroad in Cuba. You will also get to work side by side with Cuban farmers and learn about sustainable agriculture between classes and outdoor adventures.
Pros: Cuba is referred to as the safest island in the Caribbean. The strict laws and extra friendly people have created a very secure atmosphere.
Cons: Transportation of goods in and out of Cuba is quite strict. Make sure you double check on the gifts you plan on bringing your host family before you go.
Ready to travel? See all homestay programs in Cuba
*Home sweet homestay*
With homestay programs abroad you’ll get an up close and personal look at daily life in your host country, with the added comfort of a host-mother’s love. This isn’t about finding a home away from home—it is more like adding on another room to the home that dwells within you— HGTV style. As you step into your traveling prime and crave to set out on a voyage of independence and curiosity, a homestay program abroad is just the cure for your wanderlust!
TLDR: Homestay programs are the BOMB. They make the world smaller and your family bigger!