Family Stay

Don't forget Language and Friendship's 6 Rules during the Family Stay!
Do not expect

Be an observer

Do not judge

Be aware 24/7

Be interested

Be interesting 


One of the Language and Friendship family-stay coordinators, an American who has lived in Europe since 1985, wrote up this helpful information.

1) Food: Try everything! Food and eating is an art, a family gathering, a daily festival. There are usually multiple courses, so don’t fill up on the starter, even if it’s good! Take one medium-size helping and, if you like it, take a second helping. ILY seiyc_yourself leave enough for ers. You may be served first since you are the guest. Often the mom will serve you. It’s an honor.

Try not to snack between meals. Europeans eat three meals a day and if you snack a lot, you won’t be able to appreciate the food at meal times. Those three meals will fill you up. Don’t worry! You will probably go to cafés with your host sister/brother. European teens love to sit at cafés, people-watch and talk.

Vegetarians are much less common in Europe than in the U.S. Try to minimize your vegetarian demands. Europeans eat a lot of vegetables prepared in fantastic, yet simple, ways. Try them.

2) Politeness is very important. Say often “please,”“thank you,” and “excuse me.” Be sure to say “good night” to everyone before going to bed and “hello/good morning” to everyone when you get up (bises/besos included).

3) Be on your best behavior if you have an opportunity to attend a school. Students are not allowed to eat or drink in class. Electronic devices (I-Pods...) are also forbidden in the classroom. Students are generally quiet and listen to the teachers. Try to pay attention, or at least look like you are, out of respect for the teachers who have welcomed you into their already crowded classes. Your behavior, of course, reflects on America. Remember this is a great opportunity to learn more of the language!

4) Set aside about 20 euros total for school expenses such as bus fare and school lunch. Take money with you to school. School lunch costs about 5 €. Ask your hosts about bus fare.

5) Some Europeans are still shocked by body piercings and tattoos. Leave nose rings, etc. at home.

6) Take it easy on hot water in the shower. Europeans have very small water heaters that usually heat up once a day. If you use a lot of water, there’s none left for the rest of the family. People turn on the shower, rinse down, turn off the water while they are soaping up, then turn it back on to rinse off. Don’t spend a lot of time in the bathroom.

7) Your family will be happy to see photos of you, your family, school, town, sports, and pets. It’s a good way to start that first evening when you may perhaps feel shy.

8) Bring a cookie or brownie recipe, or some other specialty you know how to prepare. Europeans are especially crazy about chocolate chip cookies. Ovens in Europe are in Centigrade so you will need to set it at “5” (medium) for cookies. Bring the measuring cups with you since measuring abroad is done by weight, not cups. Also bring chocolate chips as you won’t find them easily. You may want to take a little brown sugar as well since the equivalent is grainier than our brown sugar. You could leave your measuring cups and recipe with your family.

9) Come with an open mind and if you’re a little scared, stop worrying! These people are moms and dads with kids just like you. Let yourself go, and make up your mind to have a wonderful time!

Families at home:

Remember Getting No News = Good News!

Do not call or expect calls during the family stay. It is important that the entire energy of the student be focused on making this stay a success. It is difficult to be in a strange environment and in a strange home. Calls and e-mails often create homesickness where there was none before. Friends from home and relatives should not call either.


If you have any concerns during the family stay, you must call your teacher or another leader first rather than e-mailing or calling home. You do not want to worry your parents over something they have no control of. It is better to explain a situation calmly afterwards than get them worked up while it is happening.


Upcoming Travelers

posted Apr 16, 2010, 9:56 AM by Shannon Ruiz   [ updated Apr 16, 2010, 9:57 AM ]

Share what you're looking forward to the most/or are most nervous about on your trip.

Former Participants

posted Apr 16, 2010, 9:55 AM by Shannon Ruiz   [ updated May 4, 2010, 5:54 PM ]

Please share what your favorite memory from your trip is and include your first name and year of travel.

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