Sleeping with strangers
Dreams and nightmares in experiences of homestay
Based on narratives from Hong Kong students on one-semester programmes at universities in Australia, Britain and Canada, this study focused on the emotional charge of expectations and day-to-day realities of homestay. It showed how, for many of the students, this emotional charge was related to the adoption of imagined identities as family members within the homestay. It also showed how a corresponding sense of inclusion or exclusion could arise from recognition or non-recognition of these imagined identities. The students’ experiences of homestay were often shaped by an expectation that a degree of emotional intensity within a family environment would lead to a successful language learning experience. Paradoxically, emotionally disturbing experiences could also contribute to a positive overall experience from the student’s perspective, if they led to a stronger sense of emotional inclusion. The experience was least satisfying overall in homestays where students were unable to feel this sense of inclusion.
Keywords: study abroad, homestay, emotion, foreign language learning, family
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