So I figured you’re probably wondering what host family situations are like: “Will they give me a curfew?”, “Will I have time for myself?”, “What if I don’t like the food they cook?”, “What if we don’t get along?” All these questions and more will be answered!
So when you first get here you’ll be greeted by the wonderful and welcoming program staff, and you’ll do a few days of orientation and on the last day you’ll meet your host family and like puppies be picked up one by one to go to your new home. It’s all very exciting, and a little nerve racking. But fear not, host families go through a lot of training to be sensitive to issues of race and culture, and most importantly to make you feel comfortable and welcome. For one Spanish people like to be really close when talking to one another, and will kiss on both cheeks and you’ll kind of think everyone is flirting with you, luckily the program’s orientation includes talking about these cultural differences, and families are even instructed to tone it down so as to make us Americans feel a little more comfortable.
Having a host family is great! You get an inside look into Spanish culture and home life, which is really cool. Most of you will end up with single-family homes, consisting of older women. My host mom, Amparo, I found out is a TV actress (super cool, even if she’s very nonchalant about it), she has a cute little Yorkie named Mr. Parker (adorable), and I also live with another woman who’s a medical student from Venezuela, Nervis. She’ll be wrapping up her program soon and Amparo and I will be joined by a student from China, who is eager to better her Spanish. Which should be very exciting.
I feel very much at home here, especially in my room. The food my host mom cooks is delicious and on the healthy side, and the pr
ogram will tell you that the Spanish culture really values honesty, so if there is ever a meal you didn’t enjoy, it’s perfectly acceptable, and actually expected of you, to let your host family know. They want you to be happy and well fed, and don’t have their feelings hurt as easily as some Americans might. It’s very indicative of how much this culture values sincerity. You will not have a curfew, because you’re an adult! *Woot woot* But you should still be respectful and courteous about how loud you are when you get in, and even asking if it’s okay to shower late at night. You’ll have plenty of time to yourself, but it’s still good to try to get out of your cave – I mean room – every once in awhile and, ya know, talk to your host family and ask them about their day. I’ve heard a lot of good things about host families, but sometimes you may not mesh well, and in that case the program will find you a new host family and it’s as easy as that.
Having a host family is fun and exciting, and you should gear yourself up to being opened minded, and also being kind and patient with yourself. It might be difficult to adjust to someone’s house rules, and all the small things they might expect you to do; unlocking the door to leave, and locking it behind you (their keys are also really different, but super cool looking!), cleaning up after yourself more than you’re used to probably, and sharing common spaces with new people. You may not get it all right on the first try and you might miss something or mess up, but you’ll get the hang of it. Having a host family is a wonderful opportunity and one of the best aspects of being here, and helps you to feel at home while you’re abroad.