For me this was an easy thing to decide. I hate being around people 24/7. I need my space. There are only two people on this earth that I can handle being stuck with at every waking moment: my mom and my best friend Laura. Obviously the thought of staying in some rando's house for a month was not too appealing to me.
I mean it really just depends on your personality and how far you want to push yourself. Madeline and Parker stayed with host families and they loved it. Most of us ended up meeting Madeline's family and they were pretty fab! Jennifer didn't have such a great time with her family though. They were rude to her sometimes. Okay, most of the time. One day they asked her if she liked George W. and Jennifer being a Republican said yes. Well, unfortunately for her that was a bad decision. Most of the world thinks he's a total douchebag so it's better to avoid the question if you like Bush, or lie. There's always the risk of getting stuck with rude nasties like Jennifer did :(
If you're really, really wanting to improve your language skills a lot in the time your there, then the host family is probably for you. Then again, you can always find a hot foreign lover that doesn't speak English. Nothing can make you pick up a language quite as fast as the goods can. Brandon swears by it. I have to say I agree with him since the boy is from Tulsa and sounds like a native French speaker. Europeans (the non native english speaking ones at least) aren't as used to the casual romantic flings as us crazy American college students. They take things a bit more seriously, which can be good sometimes. However, if said foreign lover starts telling you they love you after two weeks....it's prob time to bounce. I'm just sayin.
|Danielle, Derrick, Foreign Lover, Brandon, Travis|
Anyway, I'm definitely for the dorm option. I loved that I had my own space, but when I wanted to socialize everyone was on the same hall as me. They pretty much grouped everyone in the building by nationality, or so it seemed, except for Brandon who was stuck on a different floor. Diana was at first too but she got out of it. We all ate lunch and dinner, grocery shopped, watched Glee, and partied together every day because of the dorms. It definitely brought us all together and made us a big old happy fam. But, even if you have a host family you can still go chill with the students living the dorms. Jennifer and Madeline were over all the time!
|Me, Diana & Madeline|
The only real con I can think of about the dorms is having to cook for yourself. I'm really lazy and since I have yet to live in an apartment, I've never had to really cook. Oh, and being in Europe didn't change that if that's what you were thinking. I can recall an entire week where I ate yogurt and Pringles for breakfast. Actually, I kind of miss it. So if you're too much of a baby to live off dairy products and chips every now and then, then don't live in the dorms...or learn to cook. We did have kitchenettes in our rooms, so I mean it was always an option. Diana whipped up freaking 5 star meals in her room everyday. The hallway always smelled lovely at mealtimes because of her. She even fed the rest of us sometimes because she's a fab mother goose like that.
|one of D's delicious meals!|
Basically pick the dorm option if you: like your space, hate being around people all the time, want to speak English in the evenings after class, don't like following other people's rules, don't like having a curfew.
Pick the host family if you: are really social, don't mind speaking another language all day, want home cooked meals at all times, want to see the daily family interactions of that culture.
You may wonder why I titled this "Livin in the Hood." Well, another thing OU study abroad failed to mention was the fact that we would be living in the ghetto. And by ghetto I just mean the "poor" part of town, which was still really nice and pretty. I mean it wasn't that big of a deal, but it would have been nice to know we weren't in the best part of town. It's always a good idea to know where you're living. Good thing I have crazy street cred....not.
That is my wisdom for the day. Choose your living situation wisely, my children.