Opinion editorials, reviews and personal essays
By Ryan Strong
Perhaps one of the most polarizing aspects of any competition is homestay, in which competitors are forced to stay in homes that belong to families at the school they are visiting. I admit that when I first had to do this, I was really concerned about having to stay with some people who I did not know. However, after experiencing it several times, I admit to have changed my opinions entirely about homestay, and I feel that it is the optimal arrangement for competitions.
There is essentially one other option other than homestay: staying in a hotel. At first glance, this sounds far more appealing than staying in someone’s home. After all, it offers privacy, and there is no need to interact with strangers. However, I ultimately find that several factors outweigh these alleged benefits ( we’ll get back to them later).
First off, I have generally found that homestay generally offers more ability to see the city in which I am visiting. The reason for this is simple: in a hotel, there are less adults to take students. Thus, it is a lot harder to get around, while a homestay the family will generally have a means of individual transportation, allowing competitors to go out every night with ease. Furthermore, in my experience, a homestay family offers a chance to get to know people from other schools, allowing new friends to made. At the same time, despite the point about privacy made above, I have generally found that homestay families are very willing to respect your privacy, as they recognize that staying with strangers may be hard for you.
Homestay offers several possible benefits, such as allowing competitors to see more of the city which they are visiting and the possibility of making friends from different schools. This second point is especially important, as one of the major reasons for the existence of these sorts of competitions is to create relationships in between people at different schools. Thus, schools should continue the policy of homestay, rather than putting competitors into hotels.