Monday, July 20, 2009

Living With a Host Family by Kerry

Lodging for all of the students (and Kathy and I as well) was with host families. In many cases, the host family was just a host mom. Here is Kerry's assessment of her and Lauren's experiences with their host mom, Pepi.

Living with a host family is far and above the best way to delve deep within into Spanish life and culture. This account concerns the experience of living with a Spanish housewife for two months while studying abroad.

One of the first things I noticed about my Spanish home was the size. The flat is much smaller than the typical Texas sized home and everything must be stowed in its right place. My roommate, Lauren, and I share a room with bunk beds (she graciously took the top bunk) but we usually don’t stay in the bedroom for too long. Most of our time at home is spent with our host mom in the living room (el sal√≥n) where we have meals, do our homework, and watch TV in Spanish.

Our host mom is quite the character. The main barrier we have is language: she speaks absolutely no English. However, Lauren and I are up to the task and we have both improved our Spanish immensely since arriving here; we regularly have long, drawn out conversations with our host mom (she loves to talk). Although, when we first arrived, we were both pretty rusty and had to buy a bilingual Dictionary. Our host mom cooks us 3 meals a day. Breakfast (desayuno) is usually buttered toast, juice, tea, or coffee, and occasionally muffins. For lunch (la comida) around 2:30 pm, we usually have an appetizer, the main course, and fruit for dessert (and occasionally ice cream). After lunch my roommate and I take the famed siesta and nap for an hour or two before going to school at 5. Dinner (la cena) is much lighter fare and served very late (9:30 pm). If we decide to go out for lunch, our mom even makes us sub sandwiches (bocadillos) to take with us. She does a good job of figuring out what we do and don’t like, but we have our share of misfires and miscommunications. During one incident, Lauren accidentally told our host mom she wanted mango slices in her salsa when she really meant the salsa tasted sweet. Our mom came home with a mango the next day. Luckily, I managed look up the right words in our dictionary to correct the confusion.

A big change for Americans is the lack of air conditioning, and I have been no exception. Lauren and I leave our window open and use the ceiling fan whenever we’re home. It’s a different world when you can’t crank down the A/C to 60˚F and bundle up. Fortunately, our host mom takes pity on us and turns on the A/C in the living room when it gets really hot. For this reason, we get out of the house a lot and walk around the city in the shade. It forces you to go out and really see Sevilla instead of baking inside.

Overall, living with a family is a great experience and my Spanish trip wouldn’t be complete without it. Even though we have some occasional miscommunications, it’s worth it to experience the authentic Sevillan lifestyle. I hope to visit my host mom when I come back to Spain sometime the future.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the behind the scenes tour of life with Pepi.