Two weeks ago, I went to Haslemere in Surrey to visit my British host family whom we've been contacting through email ever since last December. I hopped on the train early in the morning and arrived the station just to find out that my host was waiting and she hugged me so tight the first time we met.
I was like, awwww this is such a warm welcome for me. We keep on talking in the car and she brought me to a mansion for a visit(sorry, I can't exactly remember though the name) but it was such a beautiful place indeed.
After the visit, we went to Angela's house for a long chat and lunch. I was welcomed by her dog( but I was sooo scared that I ran in the house). Luckily, Angela understood that as a Muslim I am not allowed to touch dogs(actually I can, provided that I can only touch with dry hands) and I can only say hi to her dog from afar. The conversation was interesting, we were talking from Malaysia,religion, classical musics and my future plan. To be fair, they asked about my future plan if I am planning to have a family in the future since Angela herself is unmarried and her friend does not have any kids. Of course, I do have a plan to have my own family, but its still a long way to go. I am happy on my own and unwilling to leave the freedom that I have as for now.
She prepared good foods, ensure that the foods are made up of halal ingredients and get me stuffed the whole day with abundance of desserts. My oh my, I am not a good cook and I barely cook properly when in Queen Mary - thus free and proper foods are very much welcomed!
I'm guessing that such experience of having hosting international students within the British families and communities is a golden experience to understand culture and religion, while at the same time to find the common values and toleration that we have in between.
Before I could join this programme, my university did background checking on me (and even Angela!) to ensure the safety and security - so worry not people! I hopped on the train to a place where I have never been, to meet a person who I may not know what is her intention - but all that we have to do is have faith, take risks sometimes and believe that it will turn out to be a good experience.
I will definitely join this again this year with another family.