A few tips for a positive homestay experience

May 2, 2017

Living with a host family will allow you to enjoy a real immersion in Brazilian culture.

Sharing in the customs of a local family allows you to speak Portuguese daily and promises rich cultural exchanges with your hosts.  It’s the best way to be in contact with the Brazilian way of doing things and to learn fascinating things.

Nonetheless, a period of adaptation is necessary.  How to live with new people in an unknown universe is not always obvious, even though Brazilian culture is considered warm.  Here are some tips to make your stay the best it can be so that you can take full advantage of it.

Bringing a present for your host family can be a good idea if you want to bring them a bit of your own country, and if you want your hosts to have something to remember you by!

Communicate and learn to get to know your family!  Be open to discussion, try to participate in the activities your hosts offer, and know how to accept differences!It’s likely that Brazilians are looking forward to talking with you.  They can learn about your culture just as you can learn about theirs.

Brazilians are not used to criticism and they may be offended by comments which seem harmless to you.  In your family, avoid negative comments!

The dietary habits of the majority of Brazilians may be different from yours.  Most people eat rice and beans every day, accompanied by vegetables (salad, tomatoes, onions) and what we call mistura (meat, fish or eggs).

It’s normal to miss your own country and to be a bit destabilized!  This is called culture shock, which is all the emotions felt after arriving in a new culture.  There are three stages: the honeymoon, when we interpret the culture through a romantic lens; suffering, when we feel like outsiders to this culture; and adjustment, when we learn to adapt to the culture.  Keep in mind that this process happens to everyone and remember why you chose to take this trip.

Houses and apartments in Brazil do not have heating.  We advise you to bring sweaters and/or sweatshirts and warm pajamas as nights can be cold, especially in July and August (as cold as 10ºC or 50ºF).  It’s overall colder in São Paulo than in Rio de Janeiro, due to the city’s relatively high altitude.


Follow the list of recommendations from your country’s consulate. You have been forewarned about safety in Brazil and some recommendations may seem worrying.  However, it is easy to avoid risks and move about the city soundly!  We quickly become accustomed to this advice which allows us to avoid 95% of problems!

Remember to inform your host family if you will arrive home later than normal; this will avoid them worrying for nothing.

Showers are heated with electricity.  You need to be careful with the flow of water, which must be strong enough to not burn out the system.

Throw toilet paper away in the waste bin and not in the toilet.  Pipes are narrow and throwing toilet paper in the toilet can easily clog the pipes.


« The host family was very polite and friendly toward me. The meals were really good.  My stay in the house was agreeable.  It was interesting to learn about Brazilian history.  I was surprised by the cultural mixing in the country and the impact of these mixtures on the Brazilian population.  It wasn’t difficult to adapt.  I would like to repeat the experience! » Alejandra, Argentinian, stayed in Rio de Janeiro.

« My stay in Rio de Janeiro was incredible.  Staying in a family’s home was a very good experience that I liked a lot.  The first day was difficult, as adapting to a culture different from my own is hard, but over the course of days this diminished.  It was hard to adjust to Brazilian cuisine, as it is very different from Argentinian cuisine.  Everything was good.  Staying with a family I didn’t know was very significant.  I was able to learn a lot and I would go back without a doubt. » Maria, Argentinian, stayed in Rio de Janeiro.

« I loved my experience with a Brazilian family.  What struck me were the constant good humor and the incredible hospitality.  The family I stayed with made a lot of effort to make me feel at home.  Brazilians are very curious and always like to know more about how things are in your country.  I was able to learn about how their customs are different from ours, especially during meals.  In Brazil, we put everything on the table and people serve themselves.  Family is also much more important.  They live with their brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts… To sum up, no one ever gets upset! » Audrey, French, stayed in São Paulo.


All the families are selected by the school aprenda² according to their hospitality, their friendliness, and the comfort of their homes.  They are also followed by a professional from the school.


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