ZACH ARNOLD- Families are hard to understand. Families aren’t usually drawn from a hat, you are more or less stuck with what you got. However, family grows on you and you love them unconditionally no matter what. The same method of picking families is used with the Tufts-Skidmore Spain program; they stick you with a family and hope for the best. However, the families are not as random as in real life, they are vetted and usually the students love their families. Students get a family that shows them the Spanish culture and how important family is in Spain. Sometimes in the United States I forget how important family really is, I try to distance myself from them on occasion and try to be more independent. However, as I have grown older I have realized that family is there for a reason: to help and be there for you. They help you grow into the adult you want to become and tend to not leave you in the dust trying to solve all of your own problems. This is something I have learned in Spain as well. Family is one of the more important values, with food coming in a close second.
My family consists of my host mom, Marisa, and my host brother, Mario. Both are wonderful people and are always willing to crack a joke. The two always seem to be bouncing off each other as I try to keep track of the sarcastic comments flowing by while I also try to eat my dinner. Unfortunately, I tend to not have much time to spend with my family since I am usually out at class all day or so tired that I have to take a nap as soon as I get home. So, dinner is the most important time for me, because I get to spend time with my family and I get to learn about them and just feel like I am a part of something bigger. I think that this is an important part of this program because many students abroad do not get the chance to live with a host family. These students get the freedom that is the norm for many college kids, but they don’t get the loving two kisses on the first day of class or a big hug after a long hard day. This makes my day. Without my host family, the transition into the Spanish culture would be so much harder. We always have someone to talk to and to give us a sneak peek into the Spanish family.
Although I miss my real family, my Spanish family makes the homesickness better. I sometimes struggle to make connections, with friends and even my family. When I was thrown into this family, I was a little nervous that I would not be able to show my appreciation. I always hear stories of my friends telling stories about their families, both American and Spanish, and I get a little jealous. However, I do not think I realize what I have a lot of the time. I tend to compare myself to others and compare my situation to theirs. This puts a damper on any situation because if you are not able to realize what you have then you will not be able to enjoy it. Turning away from comparisons is important because many students do not get this chance to be with a host family and it is better to enjoy what you have than compare yourself to others. Everyday with my host family we grow closer, this makes me happier, and I am glad that I was chosen to be with them.