Courtney in Spain
(Another in my series of interviews with people who have participated in homestays)
Courtney is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa seeking a degree in business and an International Business Certificate, along with a Spanish minor. She is writing about here experiences in Spain on her blog.
If you have done a homestay and want to share your experience write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where are you studying?
I am currently studying in Valladolid, Spain at the Universidad de Valladolid. I will be here a total of five weeks of classes, followed by a week of traveling in Spain. The program was actually offered by my school through the Iowa Regent’s Program which partners the three main Iowa universities, however, there are many other students from Pennsylvania and San Diego in my classes as well.
What was the family like?
My family is two adults named Rosario and Jesús who are an older couple. They have two daughters and three grandchildren. The daughters and grandchildren do not live in our flat, but we see them multiple times a week for meals and Rosario will often babysit. Rosario and Jesús are fantastic host parents, and have been doing this for over twenty years! They are incredibly wise and so thoughtful.
Did you do anything to prepare for the homestay?
Personally, I did not do much to prepare for the visit. For me, I knew it was going to be a completely new experience, so going in with an open mind was my number one goal. My housing information did not get to me until a few days before my trip. I found a little gift that I could bring to present when arriving, and that was just perfect. Also, I prepared a photo album of my family and friends to make the first day or so an easy transition of communication.
What were your first impressions? How have they been changing over time?
When arriving in Valladolid, I was immediately welcomed with open arms! I knew that I was going to have a wonderful host family. At first, I thought Jesús and Rosario would be a quiet couple. As time passes, we learn more and more about the two and they re hilarious! They tell stories all the time that have us laughing. The growth of the relationship has been a really positive experience for me.
Food is one of the biggest adapaptations during a homestay. Have you found a new favorite? Is there something you won’t eat?
Ah, Spanish food! For some people, it is definitely a different and difficult thing. I was in Spain last year for part of my summer, so I was given a preview of what the food would be like. I personally really, really enjoy most things I try! I absolutely love the tortilla española and garbanzo beans with onion. I have never been a huge fan of eggs, so a couple dishes that have an egg-like texture have not been my favorite, but I aim to give everything a try.
How has the homestay been affecting your language learning?
My home stay has definitely benefitted my language adaptation in many ways! We will watch the news or television on occasion. We are able to discuss different topics and such. It has been a way to integrate Spanish conversation into my daily life, and I love that! As I continue to live with my family, I surely see my language growing more and more.
Has the homestay affected how you see your own family?
In ways, yes. I have always been close with my family, but it is really interesting to hear how other families in different countries associate. Jesús and Rosario talk about the importance of eating together as a family and being integrated in each others’ lives. I hope to continue living this out when I am with my family and becoming really involved in every conversation.
If you were to do it again what would you do differently?
Absolutely nothing- I love the idea of a homestay and the way mine turned out. I really was blessed with an amazing family. I know many other students who have incredible host parents and I trust this program greatly!
Anything else to add?
Do not be afraid to get involved in their lives. One of the best things I have done so far is love their entire family. I absolutely adore the grandchildren and if I chose to be close minded, I wouldn’t have established those relationships. Additionally, talk as much as you can! Your host parents know the best about their culture and country. It is a wonderful resource and it is at your fingertips!
Courtney and her roommate made short video of their host family’s apartment.