Are home stays an option?

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 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.

Home stays can indeed offer advantages, like experiencing full language immersion, improving one’s colloquial dialect, and acquiring an accent. They can also afford an insider’s perspective on regional customs and, sometimes, even lead to lifelong friendships with the host family. These personal connections may be helpful, too, if one hopes to broaden one’s ties in the region with aspirations for future employment or residency within Jordan or elsewhere in the Middle East.

However, home stays do present possible challenges too, which should not be ignored.

Due to the inherently subjective nature of cross-cultural, home stay dynamics, many students find themselves dealing with one of two extremes. On one hand, they 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 the other hand, a student may also find them self 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. Also, because Jordanian society can be somewhat conservative, there may be lifestyle impositions placed upon the student, such as limitations on bringing guests of the opposite gender to the home, prohibitions on drinking, and requested modesty of dress. So, all of that to emphasize that, if a student does opt for home stay accommodations, the rules of the house should certainly be clarified in advance.

Generally, if this is your first time overseas, or if your proficiency in Arabic conversation is not yet at least at an intermediate level, we suggest living with roommates of similar interests or backgrounds for the first academic term in Jordan. We encourage all students though to consistently strive to immerse themselves in the local culture outside of class times. One of the best ways for students to do this is by forming friendships with local people that they see regularly in their 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 home stay experience.

Regarding costs, host  families typically charge a student between 350 and 450 JD monthly, which most often includes, 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 Qasid campus naturally varies, but in general they are within a 10 minute cab ride away in reasonable traffic. Qasid also has an administrative fee for coordinating home stay placements, which is discussed below.

We like to remind students that home stays are actually a form of Independent Housing, in which Qasid 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 Qasid 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 need be.

On that note, perhaps the most important wisdom we can offer, is to strongly dissuade students from making their own home stay 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 Qasid 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 Qasid’s concerns. Therefore, amply aware of the potential risks involved, the institute follows a precautionary process for finding, vetting, scheduling, and interviewing host families, while also interviewing students to find the best fit for their personality and expectations, and negotiating rental terms between the two parties. Qasid 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 Qasid 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.

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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