As my time with my host family draws to an end (I only have about a week left with them!), I want to write a post dedicated to my wonderful host parents, my host sisters, and their family members who have taken me in as well.
My relationship with my host parents began long before I landed in Spain. I spoke with them a few times over the phone, even receiving a virtual house tour from Roberto and having a Q&A session with Laura to resolve all our doubts. I remember the bus pulling into the station around 8pm on Wednesday, February 2, and they rushed into the station just as I stepped out with all my bags. Catalina was the first to spot me and she rushed to give me a hug with a mini-bouquet in her hand followed by Carmen seconds later. Roberto and Laura gave me the traditional Spanish two-kisses-on-the-cheek greeting and Roberto helped me with my bags as we made our way to the car. As soon as we got into the car, the first thing Roberto told me was that he intended to improve his English just as he intended to help me with my Spanish. We got home and Laura decided to make me a traditional tortilla de patatas that very night to kickstart my immersion in Spanish culture.
Over the months, these two people have taught me so many facets of Spanish culture. One of my favorite Spanish sayings that they have taught me is: Más vale ponerte una vez la cara roja que cien veces amarilla. Literally translated, this one would not make sense in English, but it refers to the idea of confronting the situation once and talking things out rather than acting awkward for a long time and creating an even more difficult situation in the future. This one is very practiced in this family (which I absolutely love), and they have been able to teach me Spanish customs and practices to apply to daily life to avoid acting like a total guiri (foreigner in Spain).
I say now that I’ve lived abroad, but there’s a lot more attached to the phrase “lived abroad”. For one, I wasn’t thrown into the deep-end of rural Spain by myself with no one for support. My past few and final weeks in Spain, my host family has continuously asked me if there is something else I want to experience or do in Spain. They have been so invested in my well-being and happiness since I got here. So when I say I’ve lived abroad, I’m really referring to the experience of having and growing with a family who’s helped me ease into the rough transition. Right from my first day, Roberto made sure that I was introduced to one of my classmates, and both Roberto and Laura have been extremely kind in letting me go out with my friends and have fun (even putting aside their own travel plans to let me have a birthday party).
Everyone featured in these pictures is part of the family, both close and extended family. Both of Roberto’s parents are featured in the pictures as well as his brother-in-law and his nephew.
Before I came to Spain, my host parents had written me a letter telling me that they wanted to take me to different places here like Mérida, Cáceres, Portugal, Seville, and Zafra. It makes me so happy and grateful to say that they have fulfilled their promise and taken me to every single one of those places. I also had the pleasure of meeting Roberto’s parents. His mother took me and the girls on a hike through the mountains of Zafra my first month here, and his father introduced me to fútbol. His family invited me to the Communion of one of his nieces, and they have been such fun people. From inviting me to make Indian food to going shopping with me, his cousins have been such inviting and kind people.
As for my little sisters, taking on this role in their lives has been such an unexpected joy. I’ve been picking them up from school everyday and we’ve been to so many places together. Given how young they are, I am so proud of them of coming with me on many long day-trips and walking the many miles with me as I explore the cities. They are such sweet and kind little girls. Since they are so little, I know they will change tremendously between my future visits, but I am so excited to watch them grow. I had the pleasure of watching their ballet performances last night, and they both absolutely knocked it out of the park. I will really miss hearing their questions about life in the United States and having our spa nights. I am sad to be missing Catalina’s Communion this summer, but I know I will come back to visit her with many gifts and such in the future to make up :)
I’ve already started making plans of coming back to visit this family. Roberto and Laura jokingly tell me that they think I’ll forget all about them and never return. We’ve also talked about how one day, they will come visit me in California.
To the best host family in the world, I want to say thank you for everything. I am so happy we were able to spend the last few months together. Thank you for introducing me to your beautiful culture; this is certainly an introduction I won’t be walking away from. I know I’ll come back to Spain many times in the future. ❤️
Wow . Your emotional post on your host parents say how much you got close with the family . Well done vismaya 👍