Thursday, July 25, 2013

What it's like living with a host family

First off I should say that this is only an account of my experience with my host family, which I imagine will be a little different for each person depending on them and the family. But there are some general benefits of living with any host family while abroad, which is why I think it's a terrific choice!

Even though I have only been with my family for less than a week I already feel as though I've known them and been with them a lifetime. They are seriously the most incredible people I've ever met. But I mean to be willing to let a stranger that may or may not even speak your language into your home to stay for four months is pretty brave and kind to begin with.

My host sisters Sofy and Paloma and I!

My family is my host Mom, who is the next best thing to having my real mom here with me (I wish she was!!!), Pamela and host Dad Osvaldo, who loves Candy Crush. Their daughters are Sofy (12) and Paloma (8). They are the kind of family you would see on a commercial as the perfect happy family. And all that love they have for each other just radiates on to whoever is around them.

At first the girls were shy but they've definitely warmed up to me. Even though they only speak Spanish I'm learning words by pointing at pictures and objects enough to talk with them. Plus we can bond over things like cute boys on TV and their love for One Direction (they LOVE 1D). I also showed them some 90s Backstreet Boys and they didn't quite think Nick Carter was as lindo as I did.

We got silly pretty fast

I really like that I feel comfortable enough with my family to just hang out with them for the evening rather than feeling like I need to go do something every night. But at the same time I am welcome to leave and do whatever I want, as long as I'm home for dinner.

Dinner is a big deal in Latin culture even though in Argentina it's almost always at 9PM or later. It's the time that all of us students stop what we are doing and head home to sit down with our families and share a meal. At my house, English is allowed at the dinner table, but because only my Madre speaks English it makes much more sense for me to try and say as much in Spanish as possible. After we've eaten we sit and talk for a while till we feel up for dessert, which usually involves Dulce de Leche or ice cream. Last night it was these fantastic thin pancakes covered with Dulce de Leche and sugar. I may just get diabetes while I'm here from all the sugar.

One of the greatest benefits of having a host family is not only that I get to have a family here, but also that you are forced to speak Spanish. And more Spanish than just, I want a coffee and thank you. Because you're living with them you want to be able to communicate with them that much more. I think it inspires a greater passion for speaking the language when you are surrounded by people daily, that you have difficulty communicating with. I know the girls have already helped me a ton.

A family also gives you the opportunity to experience life here the way they do. You eat food they would typically eat and you listen to their music and learn to shop at their grocery store, etc. It gives you an insider's perspective that would be impossible to get otherwise.

Even though living with strangers for four months sounds like a scary prospect at first, it's incredible. It's so rewarding and challenging and hilarious, all at the same time. I couldn't be happier living with anyone else while I'm here. So if you ever going abroad and have the option of living with a family, do it! And choose ones with kids because they will teach you more than anyone!

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