When I was 21, I traded campus life in the U.S. for a four-month “study” abroad program in Paris.
My host family, 53-year-old Madame Sheps and her brown-eyed poodle Zelda, kindly invited me to stay in their chic two-bedroom apartment just steps from the Eiffel Tower. Score!
My French accent was funny and I had a tendency to come home late (c’mon it’s Paris), but they didn’t care; the stipend they received via my tuition was their meal ticket and then some. M. Sheps told me so. The supplemental income helped pay rent, groceries and Zelda’s organic kibble. The only thing she asked of me was to finish my plate when she cooked and to limit my showers to five or ten minutes. Occasionally I’d be handed Zelda’s leash. Oh, and no English, s’il vous plait.
WANT A FEW HUNDRED MORE A MONTH?
While inviting a foreign student to live in your home is not a new concept, for American households who’d never considered the idea but are feeling a bit strapped these days, it may offer a way to earn some modest additional income in a tough economy. “It’s not a get rich quick plan,” says Anji Viola, a home stay coordinator at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, Wash. But, she continues, any leftover money from the stipend—which is meant to help the host family pay for additional food and utilities—may come in handy. You might even pick up on some German or Mandarin, depending on who pays you a visit. And the inflow of foreign students is noticeably on the rise, says Viola. “I am overwhelmed at times to the point where I don’t know if I’ll have enough homes [for the students],” she says, noting most of her applicants are from Asia this year. And no doubt the weak dollar offers one incentive to foreign students wanting to explore the states.