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12 Tips to Enhance Cultural Experience in Host Families in Nepal

cultural experience by volunteers in host family

Have you ever considered volunteering in Nepal and staying with a host family to enhance your experience? Do you want to learn the intricate details about your host country’s culture? Are you curious about how you can make the most of your volunteer experience in Nepal?

Living with a host family will give you an experience like no other. You’ll be welcomed into your new home as a member of the family, and you will learn details about your host country’s culture as you come to know these heartwarming people. Staying with a host family in Nepal will offer up amazing opportunities for you to grow personally, develop new skills, and enhance your overall abroad experience.

Furthermore, your host family will guide you throughout your abroad stay. They will support you as you adjust to a new way of life, provide you with a safe and secure place to sleep, and allow you to better connect with the local community.

We’ve compiled a list of 12 suggestions to help enhance your Nepal homestay experience:

Learn Nepal culture and customs before departure
You will feel much more prepared and able to deal with any chance of culture shock if you do research about your host country Nepal before leaving for your volunteer program. Look at a map - know where you’re going and where your Nepal volunteer project is located. You may learn about famous tourist attractions, the geography of the area, regional history and how it has affected Nepal’s economy, and what to expect in terms of religion, dress, and cuisine. Knowing a good amount of information before you depart will help you appreciate your experience much more.

Reach out to your host family ahead of time
Ask as many questions as you can to your Nepal in-country coordinator to learn about the people you will be staying with while abroad. Find out their religion and cultural background, as well as what kind of house rules you should expect as a guest. You should know whether or not you will have siblings, if there are children in the house, or if your family has pets. You may even see if you can be put in contact with your family before your arrival. This may make your transition to living with them easier.

Offer a gift upon your arrival
A great way to break the ice with your homestay family is to bring a small, meaningful gift for your host family, such as chocolates or a book. It’s nice to share something personal so they can learn a little bit more about you and where you come from, and they will truly appreciate the gesture. This can also open up a whole array of conversation topics, so you won’t have to make surficial small talk for too long.

Memorize local language keywords and phrases
Learning tidbits of the Nepali language can really pay off as it will help you connect with local people working on your project and your host family. You don’t have to be fluent or speak with perfect grammar to communicate with other people, and key words and phrases are a good place to start! You could also utilize a language learning app for help, or even sign up for our Nepal language and culture extended Nepal orientation to make the most of your abroad experience.

Then practice speaking local language 
Although it can truly be intimidating to try and speak a foreign language when you’re volunteering in Nepal program, it really shows local people that you are trying to connect with them. The truth is, you will only advance your language skills if you practice them. Have patience with yourself and speak without rushing. If you find speaking Nepali overwhelming or stressful after a certain point, take language breaks by listening to your home language in the form of music, television, or reading a book.

Know if there are any big festivals or cultural celebrations happening during your time abroad
Holidays are an amazing way to experience Nepali culture. We encourage you to know what celebrations will be happening during your time abroad, and to attend these celebrations with your host family. It will be a very fun way for you to bond with your local community! What’s more learning about these celebrations will help you understand Nepali cultural values and can be a great conversation starter.

Take part in Nepali cultural traditions
In addition to partaking in celebrations, you should also consider participating in routine traditions as they are the roots that keep people connected to their culture. Whenever you have the chance, embrace Nepali traditions and get involved, even if they’re outside of your comfort zone or beliefs. These can really give you insight to the mentality of the Nepalese people.

Embrace Nepali cuisine
As you spend time volunteering in Nepal try to keep an open mind with respect to new foods. Nepalese Cuisine can really help you come to understand Nepal culture and history. Trying new foods can also connect you with local people as they enjoy sharing their customs with you. You will also be sharing meals with your host family, and you should ensure they know how grateful you are for the food you’re being served.

Then go a step further and learn how to cook!
Embrace food further by using it as a tool to learn more about your host family. Offer to help cook or clean up after meals. See if you can learn new ways to prepare food in traditional Nepali style. Experiment with new spices and ingredients unfamiliar to you during your Nepal volunteer trip. View your homestay family members as teachers in this regard. This will really enhance your time abroad.

Share stories and ask questions
Don’t leave your conversation to surficial topics about the daily routines and weather patterns. Take a true interest into the lives of your Nepali host family. Trust that they want to learn about you just as much as you want to learn about them! They will love sharing with you, and this will give you a much more colorful understanding of Nepal culture.

Go where the local go
Everyone has heard of the popular tourist destinations in Nepal. Rather than going to visit somewhere crowded and full of tourist on the weekends, try joining your host family for an outing or visit a popular local spot. You’ll discover some amazing places and people you wouldn’t have come to know otherwise, and you’ll feel closer to the community because you are sharing in a well-loved activity or locally loved location.

Keep in touch with your Nepali host family
It will mean a lot to your local Nepal host family if you keep in touch with them after completing your volunteer program in Nepal and returning home.  What value to have international friendships! Think about them, and then text them when you do to let them know that you haven’t forgotten your Nepal home and family who knows, you may even return to visit them one day.

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Safety while volunteering
In country Support
RCDP Nepal Volunteer Team