What if I don’t speak a word of Italian? How will I communicate with my host family, especially in the beginning? We do our best to place students who have not yet studied Italian in families that speak some English. Don’t get frustrated in the beginning. You will be amazed how fast your Italian will improve. Remember that smiles and gestures often say more than words. Families that do speak English will help you out at the beginning but they are also told to speak exclusively Italian as soon as possible.
I have a very particular diet. How do I work this out with my host family? During your initial placement with the family you will be given a bi-lingual food list that you are encouraged to discuss with your family during the first full-immersion weekend.
I’m a ‘night owl’ and often like to stay out late at night. Can I do this with my host family?
There is no curfew. You will have your own set of keys and the choice to come home when you wish. It is critical however that you are respectful of your host family, and take care not to disturb them should you come home late.
I’ve heard Italians are very social and somewhat noisy. Will I have my privacy? It is true that privacy does not have as high a cultural value in Italy as it does in America? You will be expected to leave the door to your room open when you are at home and not lock yourself in. Also, your host mother may come to your room to mettere a posto (“tidy up”.) Some students find this a violation of their space. You need to remember that she is simply treating you as she would any other family member. That said, if you need private time, your host will certainly understand and respect your wishes.
I’m a very independent person. Will I be able to keep my independence? The homestay experience should by no means suffocate your independence. However, this does not exonerate you from common courtesy, such as informing your host family in advance if you are running late for dinner, etc.