If you’re going to live in Africa for a number of months either on internship, research, volunteering, holidaying or just passing through, then staying with a host family will offer the best experience. We start with the firmest cliché in the homestays industry…a home away from home.
1. African Homestays…Real Homes away from Home
Africans are generally warm and welcoming so your stay is bound to be great. But all the same, bouts of homesickness are normal during this period hence living with a group of people who keep you company and treat you as part of their family helps to kiss the blues away.
Add the small things like having to use public transportation to get home or sitting around a tally with good company as you laugh at the gags in the local comedy shows…nothing beats this atmosphere.
2. Learn Local languages and l don’t just mean “greetings”
No, you should definitely learn the greetings on civilities as Africans are generally welcoming and respectful but the greetings of your destination can be easily learned from a language book or with Google’s help. In a homestay, the learning environment is conducive as guests are exposed to the local dialects banter of their host family and at the same time have willing partners who won’t laugh at your weird accents…unless it’s a really funny one.
3. Prepare and enjoy locally cooked scrumptious meals with your host
If l might just digress and make a small confession, this is usually one of my top 3 activities when visiting a new location (and No, l won’t go into the other two) as it helps one familiarize themselves with the local cuisine.
But in all honesty, it’s a complete waste if you switch continents or countries and still eat the same mediocre grub that is present everywhere. Be a little adventurous and try a dish with a peculiar name like “ekipooli”…and if you do not like it, take heart since that is what trying out new foods is all about.
4. Explore Africa in Homestays
Your host family are a wealth of information which you can tap into to know more about other aspects of their culture, tradition and psyche; stuff which you can’t Google but better yet local unique sights away from the main tourist routes.
Bonus benefit, you have willing participants to include in your photos and there’s no need to tap strangers to help snap a photo of yourself next to the giraffes.
If you plan to make your own travel arrangements, skim through these transportation options in Africa and make an informed decision.
5. Make friends who will last for a lifetime
And after your stay is complete, your bags are packed and you’re seated at the table after tucking in another delicious dish, this is the time to deliver your heartfelt thanks to your surrogate family, extend an invitation to also visit you when they have the time and promise to visit them when you’re in the country again…all in local language. I concur, they won’t forget you too.
Compiled by: Abraham, Go Volunteer Africa