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Embracing your host family

Filed in Blog, Spain by on August 28, 2017
by Miranda K.

Getting off the train station in Oveido, I had nothing but a small WhatsApp profile picture of my host sister who was picking me up. As I was looking around, I saw a young woman studying every person who got off the train searching for me. I gained the courage to go up to her and she smiled instantly and grabbed my gigantic suitcase. We got in the car and she started rapidly speaking Spanish. I could only pick out a few words, something about trip, train or car, maybe?

I was unbelievably overwhelmed and all I could bring myself to say was “si estoy bien!” She looked at me confused, and I realized that was not what she was asking and my years of high school and college Spanish have failed me and I have learned nothing! I needed to trust what I had learned and find courage, knowing this is how I am going to continue learning.

I asked Vanesa to repeat herself and a little slower. With a gentle smile, she said it was going to be okay and it’s only the first day. We drove to a modest apartment, which would be my home for the next month. In my host family I had Vanesa, who was a 30 year old veterinarian, her father Ricardo, who was retired, her older brother Adrian, who was 25 years old, and best of all, an adorable golden retriever, Luna. That first day I had no idea what kind of impact this family would make on my life. I was extremely lucky to have three people in my host family because that not only gave me the opportunity to practice my Spanish with more people, but I was able to learn more about the lifestyle and culture of three different people in Spain.

My “brother and sister” worked during most days, so Ricardo cooked for me almost every day. My new goal is to find a way for Ricardo to get his own cooking show because — wow — it was the most amazing food. If I had one complaint about my host family, it was that someone always ate the leftovers before I did! His food was so amazing that it didn’t last very long!

host family

My host brother Adrian and sister Vanesa took me to their neighborhood carnival in Oviedo

A huge piece of advice I have to offer to anyone studying abroad and living with a host family is: Do not feel bad about telling your friends “no” to going out because you want to spend time with your host family! I made some amazing friends through this program, but immersing yourself in the culture and getting to know your family is more important! I was extremely lucky enough to have Vanesa and Adrian who took me to festivals, fiestas and casual cervezas with their friends, which allowed me to practice listening and speaking Spanish and also gave me unforgettable experiences.

The end of this trip is near and I don’t want to think about leaving this place or these people yet. After one month I already feel like they’re my family. I can’t wait to come back and visit someday!

festival

My host brother Adrian (left), host cousin Pablo (middle), brought me (middle left) and my two friends Leah and Emma (right) to an annual Asturias street festival celebrating Saint Carmen

About the blogger

Miranda K. is studying abroad on the Spanish Language, Literature and Culture program in Oviedo, Spain.

 

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