When I stay for a long time, how can I help the family?

First of all, you will want to do as much as you can to take care of your own responsibilities. For example, if you stay more than several days as a guest, you may need to wash some clothes. It would be rude to simply ask the lady of the house to wash them for you. It would be much better to say, “If you don’t mind, I’d like to wash a few things. Could you show me how to use the washing machine?” If she volunteers to do them herself, persist a little, saying, “I don’t want to trouble you, If you’ll show me how, I can take care of them.” If you are a house guest for several weeks, then at the very least you will want to take care of your own laundry.

You will also want to keep your room neat. Make your bed first thing in the morning, keep your clothes either in the drawers or in the closet, and leave your other possessions arranged on the chest or table. In other words, your hosts may tell you to “make yourself at home,” but be neater than you would at home.

Second, as a long–term “guest” you should show from the beginning that you want to minimize the burden on your hosts. You can do this by helping with everyday chores, such as washing dishes, offering to prepare a meal, offering to take out the garbage, running errands such as to pick up something at the store, washing the family car or helping out in the garden.

Thirdly, by adapting to the family’s routine, you show a willingness to participate as a temporary member of the family. If you are normally a late riser and your hosts are early risers, do your best to get up at the same time that they do. They may invite you to sleep late, but if you get up later than they do, your hosts will have to fix breakfast twice or delay their own breakfasts until you show up at the table. Also, if the family goes to bed early and you are not sleepy, lower the volume on the TV or radio.