Obviously every situation will be VERY different but I’ll tell you about what’s it’s been like for me. I’ve lived with people before, had a handful of places with friends, but I’ve never lived with complete strangers. The program finds your school placement, who then find you a place to stay. You do have the opportunity to select whether you prefer a family with kids, a couple, or a single roommate. You can read more about the logistics in the program details.
After first touring the school my host mom came to pick me up. She was very nice and spoke English pretty well! Within the hour I find out she has two lovely daughters, a husband (who’s speaks English almost fluently), and a cat. TOTALLY FORGOT TO MENTION I WAS ALLERGIC. It ended up being completely fine, because their apartment is clean and carpet-less. The apartment is like a 25 ish minute walk from school and one of the daughters goes there too so I ride with them in the morning and walk home after school, super nice!
My room used to be one of the daughter’s. It has some of her toys but it’s spacious and I have my own closet space. I have a separate bathroom right outside my room and they’ve given me a lot of space to keep things. They gave me a my own set of keys right away too! Where you’re staying should provide some food for you or the school/program will give you a grocery allowance. In my case, I usually do my own thing for breakfast and lunch but most of the time I’ll join them for dinner, which is sometimes at their grandparent’s or sibling’s house but the kitchen is open for me and they always tell me to eat whatever, whenever. They get together with family multiple times a week which is very different from me but it’s been so fun getting to meet everyone and enjoy all different kinds of Portuguese food.
They’ve been super eager to tell me all about their culture and city, show me different sites and even invite me to all their weekend getaways. They’re always super communicative about what they have going on ahead of time so that’s really nice. I think the only thing that took some getting used to was the feeling of a slight lack of privacy. Which is unavoidable when you’re staying in someone else’s home. But my room door doesn’t lock and at the beginning a few times the 3 year old would love to surprise stop by and show me something cool.
Overall, my experience has been fantastic. Didn’t expect to mesh so well with them and I’ve had a blast getting to know them! Some tips I have would be to stay open minded! Teach them about your culture! Do nice things for them once in a while, they are letting you stay rent free!! Make breakfast, bake, babysit, cook dinner, anything! It feels good to do something for others!
Hope you have a unique and pleasant experience too!