Thinking about a homestay in BA? Think no more! Brilliant for cultural immersion and improved Spanish, it’s your chance to get to know the true human side of this city of 13 million people. But like anything in life, there’s a way to do it properly. That’s why we’ve prepared a short guide on how to have a healthy homestay in this wonderful city of ours. Read on!

Homestay in Buenos Aires — © Elebaires.
Homestay in Buenos Aires — © Elebaires.

1. Discuss rules and expectations

The best homestays involve good communication. And the worst? Well, a lack of communication! Keep in mind that while your host family in Buenos Aires might have welcomed many students into their home before, you’re bound to be slightly different! Tell them about your habits, your phobias, your allergies, and let them know what time you’ll make it home from Tango classes or wild weekends out! In turn, they’re bound to share their expectations with you, and, in passing, their rules. It’s a great way to get started!

2. Know EVERYTHING about your own country

Argentines have a relentless fascination with the outside world. Your host family will be no different, which is why it’s a good idea to become well-versed on your own country before you leave home. Know your politics, your economy, your country’s famous artists and writers. Most of all, be prepared to battle common stereotypes! Argentines are open-minded, but like everyone in this age of modern media, they’re not immune to generalizations — one of the first things you’ll hear asked of you is, “Is it true…?” Start getting your answers ready today!

3. Get involved in family discussions

The next item on the agenda at the dinner table is Argentina! A typical local family here is one that discusses everything that goes on around it. You might hear people in BA dissecting local politics or economic issues, or regional history and art, for example. Be prepared to get involved in the action by reading the newspaper or surfing the web to see what’s going on in BA or across Argentina more broadly! At the very least, don’t be surprised if your host Granny knows more about regional political alliance or inflation and foreign debt repayments than you do! It’s totally normal.

4. Don’t forget your host family!

Buenos Aires has two parts. There’s the City of Buenos Aires and the outskirts, Greater Buenos Aires. It’s estimated that 3 million people live in the city itself, and that this number swells during the day to up to 10 million! What will this mean for you? BA has an atmosphere of endless movement, of bus rides here and subte rides there, of late nights, of siestas when you can fit them in, of parties, of dinners, of everything! Mix this with a homestay setting and you’ll have a mountain of things to do. That’s why it’s important to remember to include your host family where possible and to allow yourself time to be included in their family! You won’t regret it.

5. Participate

Men beware! While there are hints of machismo in Argentine society, your host mother in BA (if you’ve got one) will be anything but your nanny! For the same reasons, act the gentleman and lend a helping hand in your home if you think it’s appropriate! Ladies too! By participating in your family’s home environment, you won’t just be leaving a good impression, you’ll also feel more involved in the realities of family life in Buenos Aires. What could be better than that?

6. Keep Sundays free

Tradition in Argentina dictates that Sunday is set aside for family lunches! Keep this in mind when planning your life in the city, as Sunday might be a great opportunity to experience something more authentic. In all of this, you might be asking what you’ll eat on Sunday. So:

  • If there’s any Italian blood in your host family, it’ll be a big bowl of pasta.
  • If your host father is a gaucho — or ever dreamed of being one — you’ll probably eat from a parrilla (the best beef barbecue of your entire life!)
  • And if it’s the 29th day of the month, get ready for gnocchi!

Finally… enjoy yourself! Living with a host family in Buenos Aires is a once in a lifetime opportunity best enjoyed with a smile.

Originally published on Ailola by Jayson McNamara on October 5, 2013.