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Homestays Abroad

Homestay Etiquette in Costa Rica

Although I hadn’t set foot inside a church for years, I remembered the ritual: genuflect, make the sign of the cross, kneel down to pray. Just to be sure, I watched my Costa Rican housemother. Since I was participating in a homestay, I wanted to do what my family did—shop at the market, watch TV and eat, and go to church together.

A homestay is an excellent way to contribute financially to a community. I enrolled for a language intensive with a homestay option at C.P.I. (Centro Panamerico de Idiomas), a warm and friendly language school in the small town of San Joaquin de Flores. The school offers classes at two other campuses—one in the mountains in Monteverde and one at the beach in Flamingo—so students can experience the diversity of Costa Rica as well as a diversity of family situations.

I chose to remain in one town and was placed in the home of a retired school principal and her aging father, with whom I became very close. Bringing a small gift from home is a way to say thank you in advance to your homestay family and friends. (A cassette recording of Latino world music was a great hit with the elderly father of my home, a retired musician who could no longer play.) Sharing photos of friends and family from home also helps foster closer relationships. A simple gesture such as offering to cook a meal is a simple way of giving something back.

For more information contact C.P.I. (Centro Panamerico de Idiomas);

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