The Host Family Experience
This family was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Everyone is always incredibly friendly and welcoming and from day one I really felt like I was part of the family. One particular strength of the family was their ability to communicate cultural norms and appropriate behavior in a very positive, constructive, and effective manner. SITA student 2010
Each South India Term Abroad student is placed in a host family. They will stay with their host family for the semester. (Academic year students may choose to move to an apartment for their second semester.) SITA students are treated like regular family members by their hosts. They are expected to dress and act in ways appropriate to the context of Madurai life. In keeping with local traditions, they are also “protected” in much the same way as Indian youth of their age. Host parents usually ask to be kept informed of daily activities, and prefer that family members return home before dark unless some scheduled event keeps them out later. This parental watchfulness, along with close social relationships within the community, goes a long way to ensure students’ safety.Thangam, SITA Administrative Coordinator, matches students with host families based on student applications – their backgrounds, interests, diet, and transportation preferences.  Most host families’ homes are within cycling distance, or an easy walk or bus ride, from the SITA Center. Students eat breakfast and dinner with their families.  A stipend is provided for lunches at local restaurants and refreshments are available at the SITA Center during class breaks. Living with a host family is a true cultural immersion experience. The families offer insider views on local customs and beliefs, and encourage students to take part in family religious and social activities. Students find the process of adapting to Indian family life difficult at times, yet most students feel that living in the midst of a Tamil family is one of the most valuable learning components of the SITA Program. The homestay experience will be an unforgettable part of students’ lives in Madurai.