The host family experience can be one of the most nerve-wracking and intimidating elements of an NSLI-Y program. However, as Russian Summer 2016 students Alex, Michele, and Grace quickly discovered, Russian host families have a special knack for making students feel welcome as soon as they walk through the door. After enjoying their host families’ warm hospitality in Moscow, these participants hope to bring some of those customs back to their families in the U.S.
Alex: “Having ‘tea’ at my house in the U.S. will never be the same. I love how in Russia ‘tea’ entails cakes, chocolates, cookies, candies, and so much more. When I first arrived, this made me feel very welcome and at home, and it helped ease a little bit of my homesickness. Not only for tea, but this is also the case for all meals. Every meal is thought out and intimate, with the entire family helping out and coming together. I want to bring back this tradition because I always want people to feel welcome and cared for in my house.”
Michele: “I have absolutely fallen in love with the Russian culture and have enjoyed every minute of my stay. During my time at the host family, I have picked up many habits that I enjoy and plan to take back to my life in America. These include the never ending supply of food to satisfy your guests when they may be too polite to ask, the punctuality and planning ahead of time for each minute of the day, the home and lounge clothes, the weekly farmers market, the constant supply of “chai”, family that is not technically family but can be considered family anyway, and the complete directness and nonexistent hesitation to say anything on your mind. I have loved every minute of these loving and appreciative people, allowing me to study and feel at home thousands of miles away.”
Grace: “One of my favorite things about the Russian culture is the tea and little sweets that go along with it. I remember when I first got to my host mom’s apartment I was super nervous and afraid to mess up. I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to food and other common cultural concepts. However, as soon as I walked through the door, my host mom was already offering me tea and small little snacks and treats to go along with it. This was immediately calming to me and really made me feel accepted into her home and family. Before each meal I always looked forward to the occasion. I definitely would like to bring this tradition back to my own house and allow my guests to feel as welcomed as I did.”