For all of you prospective study abroad students that plan to live with a host family next semester, heed this one word: communication!
Overall, my experience with my host family has truly been invaluable. By living with my host mom who was born and raised in Florence, I have been able to learn much more about Florentine culture and to navigate around Florence than I probably would have were I not living with a host mom.
However, just like with my actually family, living with my host family has included both some good days and some bad days. There are moments when trying to talk express something in Italian to my host mom has been frustratingly difficult and moments when our cultural barriers are perhaps to strong to try to understand what the other is experiencing. For example, although Florence is a great city with so much to explore, there have been some weekends when I wish to simply relax in my room and listen to music or watch TV, as I normally do in college. However, this seems to be difference between Italian and American culture. In Italian culture, most people almost always spend the weekends outside.
Also, having three courses is common during an Italian dinner and sometimes at dinner, my host mom has a habit of trying to force to me eat all three courses. This I am not at all used to.
However, since I have been here, I’ve learned that no matter what differences you have with your host family, communicating with them will be helpful. Sometimes, just having simple talks with my host mom about my food preferences and my daily habits have helped her become more understanding of my typical routines, and allowed me to better understand hers.