I chose to live with a host family during my study abroad experience so that I could have more chances to work on my speaking skills and learn more about the culture. Many of my advisors back home suggested this option, especially because I had never been abroad. They told me that it was the best way to make sure that I practice every day, and I believe that they were right. My host parents speak very little English, which has pushed me past that comfort zone I’d been living in back in the States.
It also helps that my host parents are incredible and caring people. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about coming to live with people that I never even knew existed. I was afraid that I would accidentally disrespect their culture, that I wouldn’t be able to communicate well, you name it. But very much of the opposite has taken place. Of course, I have made mistakes, but the cool thing about the world is that courtesy and understanding is a language we all recognize. They are always patient and take the time to explain the different meanings of things in the Spanish culture versus that of the United States.
My comprehension of spoken Spanish has grown way beyond my expectations. What has also exceeded my expectations is the fact that I feel like a member of the family. My host mom and I are Facebook friends. My host dad has the funniest stories. They also do typical parental things like look out for us when we are sick and tell us to bundle up before going out, remind us to pack our bags the night before a trip, ask about our grades, suggest places for us to go around the city, and insist that we get out and enjoy the things that Granada has to offer. They really have become my family abroad, and we have had many good times together. Unfortunately, in addition to the good times, we have had to go through some not so great ones with them in relation to a few tragedies in the extended family. But this has kept us grounded, reminding us that family is the most important thing, no matter where you are or who makes up that family.
My roommate and I have had many conversations about how excited we are to be able to go home, but how sad we are going to be when we actually have to say “see you later” to the people who have been our family for the past three months. I’m going to miss the jokes and laughing, talking with their daughters who are around our age, and sharing candy with their grandchildren who are only three- and six-years-old.
My entire study abroad experience has been one of the best (if not the best) experiences of my life, and a grand part of that has been due to the fact that my host family has taken the time to make it so. If you have never been abroad, are going alone, want people to connect with and teach you about the culture, and want some of the best home cooked meals you’ll ever eat in your life, then choose to live with a host family and choose to do it through AIFS. They do a great job matching you to the family and roommate(s) that you will be most comfortable with. Everyone that I have talked to in my program that lives with a family loves their Granada home. I am so glad that I chose the homestay option. So to the parents back home wondering – don’t worry, we are more than all right.
Learn about your options to study abroad in Granada, like Dyimond, in addition to study abroad destinations around the world with AIFS.