Do all GLA travel programs offer homestays?
No. In fact, more of our students stay at the Home Base for the length of their GLA program. You can learn more about our Home Base model here.
However, we do offer homestay extensions on select GLA Language Immersion programs, where students can add on a homestay experience and live with a local family for a week. This is an add-on only experience available to students who attend the regular session of the program.
What is a homestay extension?
The homestay extension is an opportunity to have the most immersive abroad living experience imaginable.
Students who enroll in the homestay extension will first participate in our standard language immersion program, where you’ll live with fellow students at our GLA home base and volunteer in the surrounding communities. This will be your chance to become familiar with the region and its unique needs, as you become accustomed to the Costa Rican or Spanish way of life.
On the day your fellow students depart for home, you’ll say your goodbyes, and then you’ll begin the next part of your adventure. You will meet your homestay family at this time, and will have the opportunity to broaden your experience past the home base by spending time in a local town within the same region. You’ll spend the next week living with a Costa Rican or Spanish family in their home as you build deep connections, cook and eat local food, and explore the area.
How It Works
GLA partners with local organization and/or local families that work within communities in the regions we operate in, in order to promote cross-cultural exchange and immersion. With these established, strong bonds in the communities in which our homestays operate, GLA and our partners make sure the local families that host student volunteers in their homes are a good match.
What are the criteria for homestay partners?
Host families are vetted and meet strict criteria developed, including:
- Family must have previous experience hosting students
- Maintain a clean home with a working shower, hot water and a bathroom
- Be responsible, trustworthy and organized hosts
- Provide a gender-segregated sleeping area and lock on the door for student use
- Serve good, tasty and healthy food (can accommodate most student dietary needs)
- Have a phone for student use
- Access to laundry in the house
What are the benefits of a homestay experience?
This is a unique chance to live in tightly-connected communities that are grateful for your presence, even for a short stay.
You’ll work with a staff coordinator and connect with any other students participating in homestay extensions with other local families on the program.
Living with a local family is also an exceptional opportunity to further build cultural bridges in this region on a personal level. You’ll be connecting with real people living their day-to-day lives, and sharing a home with a family that is excited to have you join them for family meals, conversations, and more.
Students also frequently stay in touch with their host families after their homestay experience!
What is the language immersion component of the homestay extension?
After taking a few weeks of Spanish language courses on your GLA program, you’ll be better prepared than ever to spend your homestay with warm, friendly people who speak Spanish as their native language.
You do not need to speak fluent Spanish to participate in the homestay. In fact, one of the best reasons to participate in the homestay is to further your Spanish language learning. No experience is more rewarding for language development than living and volunteering alongside people who speak a language different than your own. Most students can expect your Spanish skills to take a big leap forward after the time you spend on your homestay.
What does a typical homestay week look like?
During most mornings of your homestay, you’ll participate in community service projects or activities in the local community. You’ll have a break mid-morning, and have lunch at noon. In the afternoons, you might visit a nearby nature spot, head into town, or go for a hike. You’ll spend evenings at home with your host family, sharing meals and getting to know one another.
Sample Day-to-Day Itinerary
Day 1: Move to homestay after departure of program students and meet family. Your local staff contact will lead an orientation and introduce you to your host family.
Day 2: Begin the first full day of your homestay experience.
Days 3-6: Continue your local immersion and participate in afternoon activities & excursions.
Day 7: Celebration day. Enjoy the rewards of your experience and spend extra time with your host family.
Day 8: Say your goodbyes and depart for the airport.
What do I do if I’d like to learn more?
If you’d like more information, you can speak to one of our expert Enrollment Specialists by calling us at 1-858-771-0645 , who will be happy to walk you through the details of your stay, and answer any questions you may have.