This Russian Student Calls Oregon Her Second Home Thanks to Her FFIS Homestay Family!

Russia Map

The Friendship Foundation for International Students (FFIS) provides short-term homestay programs at the beginning of the fall, winter, and spring terms.  Incoming University of Oregon international students stay in a local community member’s home for 3-5 days.  They then move to permanent housing in an apartment or dormitory.

This is what a Russian student wrote about her FFIS homestay experience:

Coming to Oregon from Russia all alone could be intimidating and challenging. I am so glad, lucky and grateful for the FFIS program! I applied to have a temporary host family in Eugene, because I didn’t know anyone or anything about the city when I was in Russia, waiting for my departure to the United States.

Paul and Susie were very welcoming and supportive and have become more than just “temporary hosts” or “volunteers”; they became my close friends and someone I can come to with questions or problems. I like to call them my Oregon parents. We have a lot in common and therefore there are always things we discuss, laugh about, and share. 

Susie and Paul have also hosted at least 18 foreign students before me and I got a chance to meet some of them who haven’t graduated yet. We are like a big international family. We meet every term for breakfast and catch up on happenings in each other’s lives, go shopping together, help each other if something is wrong.

It’s great to have this kind of support when you are in a completely new place, speaking a different language, away from your family and friends from back home. Thanks to Paul and Susie and our international family, I can call Oregon my second home. 

If you would like to host an international student in FFIS’ Homestay Program, contact Becky Megerssa, UO Liaison, at 541-346-1436 or

What International Students Say About FFIS’ Short-Term Homestay Program


The FFIS Homestay Program matches international students with local community volunteers for a short-term homestay when the student first arrives in Lane County. Volunteers open their hearts and home to young adults far from home, helping them to get oriented and settled. The friendships built during that brief period often last well beyond when the student has returned to their native country. Homestay families have created many fond memories for the students that they’ve hosted.

FFIS surveys the students after their stay. This is what some of them had to say about their host family and the Homestay Program:

What was the most rewarding part of staying with a host family?

  • My transition to a new country couldn’t have been smoother. I am still in touch with my host family and they’re amazing people.
  • They are warm and made me feel at home.
  • Making friends with my host and hostess.
  • Getting to know the American culture and lifestyle.  They made me feel at home.
  • Getting to meet new people and having support in the first few days (and also after that).
  • Their warmth and hospitality
  • It is very helpful for an international student who has no family In Eugene.
  • My host family always cares and helps me with various things.
  • They were so kind. They drove us to campus during orientation.
  • I still keep in touch with my host mother and we hang out together three or four times a month.
  • They treat me like family members so that I’m not lonely during my first term.
  • They always supported me and they invited me to their Thanksgiving dinner.
  • My host mum takes me on a lot of day trips and hikes to surrounding areas. Therefore, I am seeing so much of what Oregon has to offer. We are very similar in the way that we both love exercise and keeping fit, so it has been a great and rewarding match.
  • Forming a friendship with a local which has lasted throughout my time at UO.

What was the most challenging part of staying with a host family?

  • Joining the conversation was difficult at first, because I’m shy and not good at English
  • Can’t think of anything.
  • Language and cultural differences sometimes created different perceptions and conversational expectations.
  • I didn’t know what polite and natural conversation is like in the U.S.
  • None actually. I couldn’t have had a better experience.
  • I was initially a bit anxious to meet them, but it turned out great.😊
  • I can’t think of anything that stands out. I felt a bit homesick at first, but they made me feel very comfortable.
  • Understanding their culture and customs.

Did you feel safe and supported during your stay with an FFIS homestay family? 100% responded “Yes.”

There are usually more students wanting a homestay experience than there are available host families. If you’re not yet a volunteer, but are interested in learning more about the program, read the FAQ page or e-mail