If you remember fondly a cultural exchange program you participated in as a student, or if you envy your or other people's kids who engage in such arrangements, you may be interested in new cultural exchange and language immersion programs for adults of all ages. They are offered by a Florida -based organization called Foreign Language Study Abroad Service, http://www.flsas.com/, and they cover many different countries.
These are not particularly inexpensive programs--there are cheaper ways to travel. The cheapest cultural exchange program, in Costa Rica, still costs more than $100 U.S. per day for room with a family and two meals. Similar programs in expensive countries like Sweden and Denmark cost $1950 U.S. for one week, which works out to about $270 per day.
Until last year I had never stayed with locals in many years of travelling, aside from renting the occasional room in someone's home or bed and breakfast. But having the chance to participate in a home exchange in Russia showed me that it does provide more insight into a country than you can gain any other way.
The language immersion programs are even more costly, but then you get 10 hours or more of language instruction by your teacher host, three meals a day, and some other perks. On this basis, the cost for one person for one week is $1900 in Italy, $2360 in France, $1990 in Russia. If you stay two weeks the per week cost usually drops, for example in Russia it costs $3090 for two weeks.
These opportunities are available year around, and for all levels of students including total beginners. However, the Website material warns that if you are a complete beginner you may not get much out of a short total immersion course, since you won't have time to learn more than absolute basics.
These programs sound like a wonderful idea to me. I am considering trying one in Russia myself, since I have wanted to study that language over there for some time. Based on my experience as an adult at the Goethe Institut in Berlin, I wondered whether the highly-regarded courses at Moscow State would be right for me.The classes were good at Goethe, but I had too much unstructured time which I tended to fill with reading or watching TV in English. More personalized instruction like this and total immersion could be just the ticket.
To learn more about these opportunities, check the Website or telephone 786-216-7302.