Deciding to home stay has been a most interesting experience to say the least. When I was trying to figure out what kind of housing I would do while in Florence, I very vaguely thought of homestaying. Not knowing a word of Italian, I didn’t think I could survive. For whatever reason, when the time came to actually pick a housing option, my mouse glided over to “homestay,” clicked, and it was a done deal. What in the world had I gotten myself into?? I kept trying to reassure myself that this would be one experience I’ve never had, and I’m all about putting myself into uncomfortable situations on purpose. My philosophy’s always been, even if it’s not the best time, it’s still a chance to learn and grow.
The closer I was to finally arriving in Florence, my nerves really started acting up. It didn’t help matters when other students would ask me where I was living and I’d respond, “Oh, I’m homestaying.” “Oh wow, do you know Italian?” “Uh no… I can’t even say what my name is…” “Oh wow…. You’re really brave…” I didn’t really think that much about what it would mean if I was unable to communicate with a family I was to live with for 4 months.
Now that it’s been about 2 months and I’d have to say, I don’t regret my decision at all. Homecooked Italian meals every night, an insider’s look into the lives of “real Italians,” a chance to experience things like visiting a wine processing plant to purchase a year supply’s worth of wine and going to an olive grove to make your own olive oil… Those were some of the things I had wanted to explore when coming abroad; not staying in a little NYU bubble which is so easy to do in a campus with 400 other students. The language barrier hasn’t been too difficult since the entire family speaks English very well. I do get a little flustered when they speak only in Italian but my understanding of the language has grown tremendously.
Yes, I’d have to say, it has been a very rewarding semester so far and I would recommend homestaying to anyone who’s not afraid to be stretched a little and isn’t afraid of a little challenge.