Last Updated on June 21, 2019 by Matea Manterola
After two months of studying and living in Salamanca, I am here to tell you about my experiences in a homestay! When going abroad, you have the option of living in a homestay, an AIFS-provided apartment, or an apartment that you find on your own. These options are very beneficial and allow each person to choose the best fit for them.
I struggled with choosing whether I wanted to do a homestay or live in an apartment. After going back and forth with myself for a while, I chose to choose the apartment lifestyle, however after submitting my housing application, something felt off. I was so torn; I thought I would love living in an apartment and having full-on independence, but I was nervous about not fully immersing myself into the culture and normal lifestyle of Spaniards.
After all the confusion, I woke up one morning and something clicked: I had to do homestay! I ran to my computer and quickly emailed my advisor asking if I could submit a new housing application. Luckily, this was no problem, so I filled out a new application and submitted it… No going back now!
Upon arriving in Spain, I was so nervous and did not know what to expect from my new home and family. After arriving to my new family’s apartment, I saw my host mom run downstairs with the biggest grin, so eager to meet me. Of course, this warmed my heart and settled all my nerves.
She welcomed me into my new home and gave me a tour of everything. I was pleasantly surprised with how my home was. Life in Europe is very different than in the United States. They don’t have extravagant homes or material things here. They have what they need, and that is enough for them. It is a much simpler life.
Life in a Homestay
The first and most important thing that I will talk about is food! I am the least picky eater around, but one of my roommates is super picky. My host mom is very accommodating to each of our preferences and will not serve us something that we don’t want to eat. They understand that not everyone likes the same food that they do, and they do not get offended by that at all. The first day we arrived, our host mom asked us what foods we do and don’t like. We told her that we don’t eat red meat, and two months later she has yet to serve any red meat to us. Trying typical Spanish dishes is something that I love. There have been some that I don’t like, but it hasn’t been a problem. If you experience this, just kindly tell your family and they will likely understand. It’s amazing — you basically have your own chef, and who wouldn’t love that!?
If you are worried that you won’t have freedom by living in a homestay, you can cross that worry off your list. You still have all the freedom in the world! I have found that my host family is not here to tell me what I can and can’t do, they are simply there to provide a home, cook me meals, and take care of me. My host mom always says that she is our abroad mom, but her house is our house and we are free to treat it as if we were in our own home.
Meals are a time where we all get together and reflect on our day where we can just talk and relax. This is great because I am forced to speak the language, which is so helpful. However, if I want to eat out with friends, or just don’t want to rush home for a meal, all I do is send a simple text to be considerate, saying that I won’t make it and they understand. My host family really just wants me to have fun and live the life that I want while abroad.
I can’t imagine how my life abroad would be if I didn’t choose to live in a homestay, but I can say that it has been the best decision that I have made. I officially have a second mom in Spain who I can go to for anything and treats me as a daughter of her own. She has a very special place in my heart and is someone that I will be able to rely on the rest of my life.
This post was contributed by Matea Manterola, who is spending her spring semester studying abroad with AIFS in Salamanca, Spain.