Fast-Forward the Recession on a Homestay

I've got this friend, Greg. His story is not unique, especially in the recent months. He graduated college last June with a new degree in business and decided immediately to inject himself into the job market and build a nice foundation for his career. It was all planned out, just like the high school guidance counselor said. Greg made no mistakes; worked hard; excelled; had a set of goals. He was a lean, mean, job-candidacy machine. Unfortunately, the job market was nothing but a hole. The job hunt was like walking through the desert, and swiping your hand in a futile attempt to catch the delusion-induced mirage in front of you. By winter, most motivation was gone. It was like all the jobs were in a little box and no matter how long you clawed at the lid there was no way to break it open. For the thousands of recent graduates in the same circumstance, there may be no other alternative to insanity than to hide from the economy.

Though the first instinct that may kick in after that sentence is to sit on your couch with a carton of New York Super Fudge Chunk Ben & Jerry's, and flip the channels between Maury and World's Strongest Man, it won't give you anything to look back on. In fact, you will probably be much worse off than before (jobless with 15 extra pounds). There is, however, an option that can release you from the burdens of unemployment and reveal a brand new world of experience and learning. A homestay abroad might be your answer. Tons of hosts around the world are ready to accept students into their homes to provide free housing in exchange for a few work hours a week. Cultural immersion will allow you to learn more than you ever would on an ordinary vacation. An extended hotel stay will cost thousands of dollars, and what you get is nothing more than that - a tiny hotel room. It leaves you isolated from the cultural, social, and financial opportunities outside.

A trip like this doesn't allow you to grow as a person because you are not really living in the culture. On a free homestay you save all the money you would otherwise be spending on housing, commuting, utilities, and groceries. You can be free to search for a rewarding job abroad (in most place native English speakers are in high demand) without dealing with the headaches or the financial burden that comes with the logistics of living abroad by yourself. While you may be teaching English lessons to your host family as part of the payment, you will be naturally getting a free education in their language, as it is all you will hear during your stay.

Every interaction you have will force you to learn, and learn quickly. Of course, whenever you are in a new country, there will be the period of awkwardness, discomfort and culture shock; but with a host family by your side, you have a home base to fall back on and support you - much better than a hotel bed. So under all the stress and pressure that comes with an economic meltdown, and with all the frustrations that come with hopeless unemployment, don't you wish you could just press fast-forward Traveling with a host family can be the escape that you're looking for, and you will find opportunities that never would have come about otherwise.

Lidia Nash, CPA, CITP is the Founder of Host & Care - a global community that connects students, singles, unemployed and travelers looking for free accommodations with families and seniors looking for care. Young people provide few hours of free child care, tutoring, elderly or home care in exchange for free accommodations.