Q / Can I live with a Homestay during COVID-19?
Yes! Many DIS hosts are eager to welcome students despite the realities of life during the pandemic. Please note that some elements of the Homestay program may look a little different (e.g. our start-of-semester Jump Start event for Homestay students and hosts). Take a look at our Student Bloggers to see what they’ve had to say about living with a DIS Homestay during COVID-19. Read Kiki’s blog and Elliot’s blog
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
In addition, Career Connection hosts…
- Want to mentor a student who is interested in learning about Danish working life
- Are interested in showing a student their life and work 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. If you are applying to live in a Career Connection Homestay, DIS will also take into account your shared professional interests, where applicable.
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 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! In the Career Connection Homestay, a degree of independence is also required, as your hosts will most likely be busy professionals themselves with some evening and weekend plans.
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 (however, in the Career Connection Homestay, you will receive a partial food stipend from DIS to assist with covering most meals yourself). 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 in a Homestay. 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! In the Career Connection Homestay, your hosts most likely will make dinner for you a couple of times a week, while the DIS food stipend will assist with the cost of most of your other meals.
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 and you have complex dietary restrictions, the Host Team encourages you to email firstname.lastname@example.org once you have registered for your housing, 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, work life 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 / Even before Arrival, you will have a chance to connect with other DIS Homestay students who live in neighborhoods close to your Homestay, through the DIS Navigate app. 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.
Q / I am considering signing up for a Homestay together with one of my good friends from my university. Anything I should have in mind?
A / Please consider whether both you and your friend are able to and interested in both: 1. Maintaining a relationship with each other and 2. Putting time and effort into getting to know your new family. Aim at fostering relationships with all family members – and remember that you and your friend are two different individuals, who will also most likely create different relationships with different family members. With such a mindset you have all the best conditions to create a great, shared Homestay.
Q / What if we don’t hit it off?
A / Living with strangers can be hard at times, especially when there is a language barrier. If you feel that you are entering into a conflict with your host that you are unable to solve yourself, we encourage you to contact the Housing Team. All team members have experience with conflict resolution and are here to assist you.
In rare cases, a conflict in a Homestay can escalate to the point where either the student or the host feels that there is no other option than a move. The Housing Team is here to assist both parties through the conflict and we will give you tools to work with.
If we come to the conclusion that there is no other option than a housing move, you are required to let your host know that you are moving. So, bottom line, you will need to communicate your frustrations and difficulties in a civilized and proactive manner to your hosts at some stage. It makes a lot of sense to do this early on in the process – and not wait until it bottles up and you see moving away from the conflict as the only solution!