My mom studied abroad when she was in college. During that time, she lived with two sisters in Costa Rica. She always told me that she felt living with locals helped her gain a better understanding of the country’s culture and enriched her entire experience. She wanted me to have the same opportunity, so I am living with a host family while studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. Pretty hard to argue with that logic, right?
Here are just a few of the reasons why I have loved staying in a homestay while studying abroad.
1. Home-cooked Meals
I feel like this one is self-explanatory. It is nice not having to worry about making myself dinner, and all our meals are fresh and delicious! Our host mom is an amazing cook, and we do not go hungry! A traditional meal in Spain consists typically of three courses: a first dish, a main dish and a dessert. While I am often too full to eat dessert, we almost always have soup and a dish consisting of rice or pasta. Our Señora is originally from Argentina, so we also eat many traditional Argentinean dishes, such as empanadas.
2. Clean Clothes and Clean Room
One of the best benefits to living in my particular homestay is that our Señora does laundry and cleans our room for us once a week. Students who decide to live in an apartment are responsible for doing these things on their own. I am so lucky to be able to come home and have a clean room!
3. Opportunities to Learn about Culture and Practice Language Skills
Something that I appreciate is that my host family can answer questions about life in Barcelona or help out if I am having a problem. They have given me and my housemate(s) lots of advice about how to use the metro, places to visit on the weekends, and different foods to try. Additionally, they are very patient when I try and speak Spanish. This has been a great opportunity to improve my speaking skills and be corrected if I am making a mistake.
4. Helps with Homesickness and Culture Shock
Living in a homestay has helped to lessen my feelings of homesickness at the beginning of the semester. Coming back every day to a place that was lived in and felt like a home made it easier to adjust to life in Barcelona. Having people who were there to support me outside of the program was also great.
5. They Have a Parrot!
Okay, this one might be specific to my situation, but our host family has a parrot named Paco! He is very shy but likes to squawk and eat cheese sandwiches and yogurt. He was a fun bonus! If you love animals, it’s always possible that your host family might just have a pet.
Anyone thinking about studying abroad should seriously consider staying in a homestay as their housing option. It has made my semester so much better, and I am thankful for all that my host family has done for me!