All about homestays
Homestays are a form of independent housing that MLC supports and facilitates for future students. Many students, seeking to improve their conversational fluency, and longing for a first-hand view of the host culture, may feel that a home stay with a local family is the best way to achieve this. But there are many considerations to take into account when judging if such an arrangement is best for you. Homestays can indeed offer benefits. However, due to the inherently subjective nature of cross-cultural, home stay dynamics, many students find themselves dealing with some predicaments and challenges and this should not be ignored.
Advantages of homestays:
- Experiencing full language immersion outside the classroom.
- Improving one’s colloquial dialect, and acquiring an accent.
- Gaining an insider’s perspective on regional customs and experiencing Jordanian hospitality.
- Establishing lifelong friendships with the host family.
- Expanding one’s personal connections and ties in the region. This may be helpful if one has hopes and aspirations for future employment or residency within Jordan or elsewhere in the Middle East.
Possible challenges and disadvantages
Students opting for homestays must understand the dynamics involved in such a decision and the different factors affecting their everyday lifestyle while staying with a Jordanian family. Although home stays guarantee language, cultural and custom immersion, students must approach the idea with an open, tolerant and accepting mindset. It is a very educational and interesting experience where families and students will come face-to-face with their expectations and standards. However, clashes may occur due social, cultural, religious and economic differences.
- Students may face a potential loss of autonomy if the daily norms and traditions of the home’s residents impose what the student deems to be excessive restrictions on their independence.
- On another extreme end, students can find themselves being treated too much like a paying guest – closer to a landlord/tenant circumstance – if there is a lack of inclusion in the family.
- A clash of expectations may also come about if a student anticipates a greater variety of food and flavors than the modest fare found in many local homes.
- Depending on whether the family is conservative or not, they may place lifestyle impositions upon the student, such as limitations on bringing guests of the opposite gender to the home, prohibitions on drinking, and requested modesty of dress.
Advantages and disadvantages will vary accordingly and depend on whether the family is conservative, traditional, and reserved or more open and modern. So, it must be emphasized that a student specifies the type of lifestyle and the type of family he prefers to prevent problems from arising in advance, and MLC facilitates this through its research-based interview process with the future student and prospective host families.
We encourage all students to consistently strive to engage themselves with the local culture outside of class times. However, every student differs and MLC understands this so homestays could possibly be a bad option for you.
If you are a student who
We recommend living with roommates of similar interests or backgrounds for the first academic term in Jordan. A progressive and gradual immersion process are best for you to give you time to adjust yourself to a new culture and world and prevent inconveniences, accidents, and cultural clashes. One of the best ways for students to do this is by
- Slowly forming friendships or establishing a connection at least with your instructor or Arabic teacher or people you see regularly at MLC
- Extending friendships with local people outside MLC that you see regularly in the neighborhood, or by finding a language partner.
If you follow this advice, after the initial quarter or two, you’ll likely feel more confident about your growing knowledge of local mores and your Arabic speaking abilities, and thus be better prepared to embrace the homestay experience.
Costs and payments
Host families typically charge a student between 350 and 450 JD monthly, which most often includes amenities, wireless internet service, all utilities, and at least a couple of meals per day. So, in addition to buying any extra groceries for yourself, your other recurring expense will be the taxi fare to and from campus, which might amount to around 50 JD monthly. The distance and locations at which most host families reside relative to the MLC campus naturally vary, but in general, they are within a 10 minute cab ride away in reasonable traffic. MLC also has an administrative fee for coordinating home stay placements, which is discussed below.
Safety and precautionary tips
Perhaps the most important wisdom we can offer is to strongly dissuade students from making their own homestay arrangements with families who are strangers. We can share more than one story of an optimistic student who found a host family on the internet through a social networking website or an online real estate service offering rooms for rent, who – after an unsettling or even threatening encounter with their host – ended up coming to MLC asking for help to get out of the home and into more secure accommodations.
The well- being and safety of our students is the highest of MLC’s concerns. Therefore, amply aware of the potential risks involved, the institute follows a precautionary process which consists of:
MLC has a 100 JD facilitation fee for each home stay to cover a portion of the staff hours required in these logistics. It is a priceless value when one considers the steps MLC takes – such as coordinating with local partner organizations to avoid placing students into black-listed host families – which simply cannot be undertaken by students themselves.
Instances of harassment or harm arising while in a home stay are certainly not the norm, but it can happen. So we relay the possibility as a reality, not to create alarm, but to honor our responsibility of due diligence hoping you will not be one to whom it happens by making independent arrangements. The vast majority of home stays we facilitate are rewarding and culturally educational on a variety of levels, which is what we earnestly want yours to be if you choose that option.
Closing remarks and guidelines
We would like to remind students that homestays are actually a form of Independent Housing, in which MLC acts only as a facilitator for a student to meet potential host families. The responsibility for, and results of entering into a rental agreement with a host family rests solely on the student. That being said, you should also know that MLC will not leave you in the lurch in the unlikely event that something goes awry and you feel a need to move out. In such a case, to the extent that the institute is capable and within applicable legal processes, we will assist on your behalf to either resolve whatever issues have arisen or to aid you in finding new accommodations if needed.
As a closing note,
Please be aware that the availability of host families is limited, so if you feel strongly about pursuing such accommodations, please affirm that with us as soon as possible so that we can tentatively reserve a family for you.
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