Here are testimonials from an undergraduate student, a graduate student, and three visiting scholars who have participated in the Solana Beach Host Family Program.
Dominik Walter, Undergraduate Student, Germany
"My name is Dominik Walter and I was a German exchange student at UCSD. And I participated in the Solana Beach Host Family Program. Knowing that I would be picked up from the airport by my host family and then be able to stay with them during my first few days in California helped me to feel more secure before I even left Germany.
The prospect of spending a year in a foreign country made me somewhat nervous in the beginning, but with the help of my host family I quickly adjusted to my new living circumstances. Also my parents were glad to know that there was someone who would look after me and who they could call in an emergency while I was abroad. With the assistance of my host family I was able to open a bank account, get a cell phone and buy all the things I needed for my new apartment. Furthermore, this assistance was not limited to the first three days. Even throughout the year I could always go to them and ask for whatever I needed. They also invited me to several occasions like holiday celebrations, family dinners or hikes together, which gave me an authentic insight into the American way of life.
I always enjoyed spending time with my host family and was sad when I had to leave California. Even now, after many years, I am still in touch with them and am looking forward to meeting them again when I’ll go back to San Diego. Without the experience of being part of the host family program, I would have missed out on one of the most valuable experiences I had while being abroad. I would recommend the program to every foreign student who plans to study at UCSD.”
Sara Zare, Graduate Student, Iran
“No doubt I could have survived in the USA without the host family program. However, with getting to know Americans through this program and spending time at American homes, experiencing Thanksgiving, Christmas, the 4th of July and other important American cultural milestones with them, I had an extraordinary experience in this country.
Not only did I learn a lot about America in particular, there was another part to my personal experience with these wonderful people. I always had a huge amount of interest in learning about religions other than Islam, which I have grown up with. My host family was very welcoming in letting me join their Sunday and small group worship. In addition to that, I have had chances to exchange ideas with some other international students with different beliefs, such as Christian, Buddhist or even atheist friends of mine.
This all together was a priceless experience for me. I can never put enough emphasis on how wonderful this experience was for me. I can encourage every single international student to enjoy the benefits of this program. I feel as if I have my second family here. I was part of their happiest moments, and they always had an ear to listen to and a hand to help me while I was dealing with different stages of the cultural shock or if there was any hardship in my life.”
Qingyun Yang and Yoyao Guo, Visiting Scholars, China
"A million thanks to The Solana Beach Host Family Program!
My name is Qingyun and my colleague is Yiyao. We were visiting scholars at UCSD in the fall of 2010. We two come from Beijing Normal University (BNU), China. This is the first time for us to visit America so we had lots of worries about the first hectic week before we land in the strange country. However, when we two are picked up by our host family at the airport, get together with all the family members, we two are relieved and feel so lucky to know our hosts. They are so kind and helpful to us. They have kindly invited us to spend the American festivals like Thanksgiving and Christmas and the church concert with their whole family and their friends. It is a precious chance for us to get insights of real American life, American culture.
Right now, we often share our experiences with our students. We now still keep in touch with each other and our hosts plan to come to China in two or three years. We are looking forward to seeing each other next time. Thanks again for the Solana Beach Program, our first week is not as hectic and difficult as we have expected. Thanks for the Solana Beach Program. We and our host family have such a good friendship!"
Henrique Machado, Visiting Scholar, Portugal
"I arrived in San Diego on September 2016. Just after I got married I moved to the United States to start a post doc research position and prepare for the arrival of my wife Klara.
Before I found the program, everything seemed to be going wrong. I was searching for an apartment online and kept getting caught in internet housing scams. That was when I came across the Solana Beach Host Family program and I decided to apply. When I got matched with a host I was so glad I was going to have a place to stay for the first days after arrival in San Diego.
Now we know that the opportunity I got to be part of this community gave me much more than a place to stay for a few days. My wife and I got so much help and support from our extended host family and from many previous participants in the program that we will never be able to express in words how lucky we feel.
We have found amazing people with whom we love to spend time, definitely a great family away from home that we hope will be a part of our lives forever!"