“I don’t want to be mothered. I know friends who’ve been in homestays in other places and they had curfews and were expected to go to family functions. I don’t want any part of that!”
We know that you are apprehensive about staying in a new family’s home, especially a foreign family where the cultural norms are different. Rest assured that the homestay families are also apprehensive about bringing a stranger into their home. The families will treat you like an adult, and you are free to make your own decisions about where you go, what you do, and when you do it. No family will impose a curfew on you or require you to attend family functions. A family might offer you the chance to go on excursions or join in family functions, but you decide whether or not you wish to do so. Many past students have stated they have felt lucky to be offered the chance to share in a “normal Belgian life.” However being treated as an adult brings with it the requirement to behave as an adult. There are certain rules of behavior that you will be expected to follow when you are in the family’s home. These rules do not restrict your freedom in any way, but they do require you to act with courtesy and respect for the lives of the people with whom you will be living.
“I want to know who I’m living with before I get there so I can send things ahead/find the home on a map/contact my homestay family.”
Although the Housing Coordinator might contact you with information about your family before you arrive in Belgium, it is unlikely that she will do so. That is because last minute changes in the homestay assignments are always possible due to unforeseen circumstances. You will spend the first night in Brussels in a hotel with all of the other students on your program, and you will learn who your family is and meet them the next day.
“I am vegetarian/vegan/allergic/lactose intolerant/have dietary restrictions and I don’t want to be forced to eat something I’m not comfortable with, have to eat salad all the time, or want to make the homstay family feel weird.”
Most homestay families have offered their homes for several semesters – if not several years – before you arrive. These families have dealt with all kinds of different dietary needs and the students who have them. The Housing Coordinator takes this into account when matching you to a homestay. However, the Housing Coordinator cannot accommodate a dietary restriction if she does not know about it. Please explicitly state any dietary restrictions that you have on the housing questionnaire that you will complete after you are accepted to the program. Please also be prepared to answer questions from the homestay family so that they can make sure you are as comfortable as possible.
“I’m a Hindu/Atheist/Protestant etc. and don’t want to make me or anyone else uncomfortable.”
Just as each student is different, each family is different. Your homestay assignment is made based on what you disclose in the homestay questionnaire and the Housing Coordinator’s knowledge of each family. Therefore, when you complete your homestay questionnaire, please disclose as much information as possible about yourself so that the Housing Coordinator can make the right family selection for you.
“I want to live with another student on the program.”
Provided that there are homestay families available who have space for more than one student, this is a possibility. Both you and the other student must state your desire to be in the same home when you complete the homestay questionnaire. The Housing Coordinator will do her best to try to accommodate your desire. However, we cannot promise in advance that this will be possible.
“I want my own room.”
Each student on the program has his or her own room. Although another student might live in the same house, no one else will be in the same room.
“I would rather just not pay for a homestay and find my own place instead.”
This is not an option. Homestays are a key way to get to know Belgian life and culture from an insider perspective, and every student is required to stay in a program specified homestay.
Students often personalize their homestay room throughout their time in Brussels.