Be a Part of an Intercultural Exchange
Living in a Homestay arranged by DIS puts you in direct contact with locals, as you will be matched with a host(s) in the greater Copenhagen area who is interested in inviting you into their home.
A Diversity of Hosts
DIS has a diversity of Homestay hosts, including families with children, single parents, couples, LGBTQ households, non-ethnic Danish families, etc. Your hosts may have young children, grown-up children, or none at all; they may be young, middle-aged, or retired. Prior to your arrival, all hosts have been visited and approved by DIS staff.
- An opportunity to contribute to an intercultural exchange, and a chance to engage yourself in local culture and traditions
- Living with a host that is committed to you and your experience provides you with a support network outside of DIS
- You can potentially gain a lasting connection to people in Denmark
- While you will have a home base, your hosts will respect your personal freedom to explore and be social
This housing option is right for you if, you are willing to:
- Balance spending time with your hosts and hanging out with friends. You will be a real, contributing member of their household, not just a visitor
- Live in a private house or apartment in the metropolitan area
- Commute from home to DIS using the many choices of public transportation available in Copenhagen
- Have your own room or share an adequately-sized room with another DIS student
- Share most dinners with your hosts and prepare your own breakfast and packed lunch
- Share a bathroom with other members of the household
- Share cleaning responsibilities and help with household chores
What this Housing Option Provides
To find out what is included in each housing option, go to Comprehensive Housing and Student Affairs Inclusions.
You will preference your housing choices during the registration process.
As part of your housing application, you must write a letter to your potential hosts. In addition to introducing yourself to a potential host, this letter is also an important tool used to match you with the most compatible Homestay, so be as honest and detailed as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q / Why do DIS hosts choose to have DIS students live with them?
A / There are many different reasons, but most likely because they…
- Value the intercultural exchange
- Are interested in your culture and traditions
- Want to improve their and/or their children’s English
- Want to add something new to their everyday life
Q / How can DIS match me with a compatible host?
A / The DIS Host Team will match you based on the personal letters we receive from you as well as from your registration form, so please be as honest and clear in your descriptions and requests as possible. Include any personal items about yourself that you feel we should know. Everything from lifestyle choices to if you are an early bird, or if you like to play loud music in your room can be good for us to know to better match you. We receive the same kind of information and wishes from our hosts and match you accordingly.
Also, if you have preferences of what kind of household you would like to live with, you will have the opportunity to include wishes during registration. However, note that making placements is a complex puzzle, and our hosts are as different as the students who join them in terms of lifestyle, interests, routines, age, and composition. Therefore, please understand that we are not able to accommodate all requests.
Curious to hear more about how DIS matches you? Read this interview with the Host Team here
Q / Will living in a Homestay limit my freedom?
A / Your local hosts will be down-to-earth and will treat you as an adult son/daughter in their home. You are free to go out with your friends during the week and travel. However, ‘it takes two to tango!’ If you plan to travel many weekends or go out a lot, living in a Homestay may not be the right choice for you. You should be excited to spend some evenings and weekends with your hosts as they are genuinely interested in devoting time to you and introducing you to their lives – and they want to get to know you, too!
Q / How are hosts approved by DIS?
A / DIS vets all Homestay hosts before accepting them into the program. We do this by having a team of trained “visiting consultants” who pay all interested hosts a visit to their home. These visiting consultants are all experienced hosts themselves and are trained in this vetting process. The full time staff of the DIS Host Team also visit host families.
At the meeting in the host’s home, the visiting consultant sees the apartment/house and especially the room the student will be living in to make sure it contains everything DIS requires. They also have a conversation with the host, during which they go through the host’s expectations to ensure they align with DIS’ standards.
After the visit, the visiting consultant writes a profile with important information about the host’s interests, hobbies, and wishes for the semester. This profile also contains information about the hosts themselves, their motivation for hosting, the physical surroundings, and other relevant information. The Host Team uses this profile (together with all the information the Homestay host has put into their profile themselves) to match them individually with a student.
Q / How do finances work when living in a Homestay?
A / All hosts receive a basic subsidy from DIS to cover your living expenses while you are in their household such as groceries for three meals a day, utilities, and laundry expenses. Living expenditures vary from Homestay to Homestay, and the subsidy is calculated to cover expenditures in an average household. If you prefer to snack between meals, you will most likely buy your own snacks, and if you join your hosts for an excursion with an entrance fee or are out for a meal together, you should offer to pay your share of the bill. If your hosts insist on paying, accept with gratitude as this is not covered in the DIS subsidy and is a gift from them to you!
Q / How does the food situation work?
A / Three meals a day are provided. However, you are expected to make your own lunch and to prepare your own breakfast. Most Danish households eat dinner together and consider this a prime time for discussions, laughs, and bonding. Dinnertime is a great time for you to spend with your hosts!
Q / I have dietary restrictions. Can I still sign up for a Homestay?
A / Many hosts prefer to live with students who do not need any special accommodations when it comes to diet. So please be aware that dietary limitations limit the number of hosts you are compatible with. If at all possible, it might be in your best interest to be flexible in your diet during your time abroad.
If you have dietary limitations that are not flexible (e.g. religious restrictions, health needs, and/or food allergies), please convey this to DIS when registering so we can consider what practical implications it would have for your potential Homestay. If living with a Homestay is your top preference, the Host Team is happy to hear from you once you have registered so we can get started on finding a compatible match for you.
Q / Do Danes speak English well?
A / The Danes generally speak English very well, though fluency varies. At least one person in your Homestay will speak English, but you will most likely be able to communicate with everyone in English, with the exception of small children. Games and mimics are great supplements to words! And no matter how good your hosts are in English, there are always language misunderstandings. Treat them with a sense of humor and take the time to talk through situations in which misunderstanding occur.
Q / I have heard that the Danes smoke more than Americans. Is this true?
A / The percentage of smokers in Denmark and the U.S. is the same. About 16% of all Danes smoke, and this figure continues to decline! DIS is happy to be able to place more than 90% of our students in completely non-smoking households. If hosts do smoke, they will only smoke outside. As a guideline, DIS asks our hosts to refrain from smoking in common areas of the home while they have a DIS student living with them.
Q / I have read that students in some of the other housing options automatically get to know each other because they live side by side. If I choose a Homestay, won’t I risk feeling isolated from other DIS students?
A / When ranking Homestay as one of your preferences, you make the decision to prioritize building meaningful relationships with you hosts. This takes time, so there might not be as much free time to hang out with other DIS students as students living in other housing options have (i.e. in a Residential Community). However, you will get something else out of your housing that your peers will not have the chance to experience:
- By living with locals, you can have in-depth conversations about culture, identity, traditions, and more
- Many Homestay students and hosts develop long-lasting relationships and visit each other in Denmark and the U.S. after the semester
- You have the chance to bond with other Homestay students in your area with the DIS Local Homestay Networks (see next question)
Q / How do these local Homestay networks work?
A / During the Arrival Workshop, you will meet students in your local Homestay network who live in neighborhoods close to your Homestay. In the past, students in the same network have built friendships, explored their neighborhoods, and even commuted to and from DIS together.
- The first weekend in Copenhagen, DIS holds a Jump Start Event for your local Homestay network, where you will meet other students and their hosts
- During the first month and a half, you will also have the opportunity to either host or participate in a dinner with other DIS students from your network
- Throughout the semester, both students and hosts in the Homestay network can initiate other events with the social budget that DIS provides
Q / Can I live with another DIS student in a Homestay?
A / 25% of all Homestay students share their Homestay with another DIS student, as quite a number of hosts would like to welcome more than one student into their home. If this is something you are interested in, be sure to include this info when you register. The Host Team will try to accommodate you.