Having lived in an American host family some years ago, I decided to settle down in a Chinese host family for my two month internship in Chengdu. What I expected was a large family in a tiny apartment – what I got was totally different.
I am now living with my 28 year old host-sister Sophie and her mother in a luxurious five room apartment in the south of Chengdu. The flat is part of a huge fenced-in complex. Once you enter it, a green garden, friendly staff and some melodious Chinese music welcome you home. Since my right finger print helps me into the apartment, there is no need for a key and also none to lose or forget =). Every time I open the door to the apartment a recorded voice greets me friendly “你好”!
My room has a western en-suite bathroom and direct access to the conservatory. I can also use a separate room to study. So far I have not used it very often =). A few minutes by foot from my apartment away are shopping malls, an international supermarket with 70 cash desks and the subway. And there is even an IKEA around the corner.
As amazing as the apartment I’m living in is, as warm and friendly is my host-family. Since my luggage was lost the first two days after my arrival, they helped me out with everything. For my upcoming birthday they already started to plan a party. My host-sister Sophie likes to talk with me about handsome boys, delicious food and Chinese culture. Last weekend she took me out to meet her classmates. We had some really spicy hot-pot food and ended up singing together “I’m a Big, Big Girl“ at the KTV next door.
Since, frankly speaking, I would not consider my Chinese the very best, it is funny how we communicate at home. With my host-mother I can only “speak” Chinese as she does not know any English. But we always find a way to get our meaning across. Body language can help a lot and there are a number of useful apps to get around with my still-needs-some-improvement knowledge of Chinese. So far though, I can say that living with a Chinese family helps me pick up the language quicker.
Homestay in China is definitely an adventure! There will always be some adaptions you have to make and every hostfamily might have their own peculiarities. But: it is such a great chance to get an unveiled insight into the way of life in China, improve your language and build up friendships with Chinese people.