One of the many wonderful things about studying abroad is the option to stay with a host family. I am lucky enough to be placed with a lovely family that includes my two host siblings: Jorge and Irene. Like my biological siblings, my host brother and sister are sources of support and laughter. My host sister, Irene, is 10 years old and keeps herself busy with a unique set of interests and hobbies.
Though I have only been living in Spain for a little over a month and a half, she has taught me what it’s like being a girl in Spain and numerous other things. Here are my favorite things Irene has taught me so far:
- Girls like to have fun – It’s not a surprise that girls all over the world like to have fun – I mean, who doesn’t? Irene personally enjoys practicing the guitar, playing on her school’s co-ed basketball team, and riding horses (her favorite sport!). One of the first weeks I was in Spain, I overheard a familiar song coming from the next room. I rushed over and realized it was the same song my sister and I liked to sing at home. Although I am thousands of miles away, I have found that some of the simple joys – like dancing to a silly song – are universal. What are some things you like to do for fun? Are they similar to Irene’s interests?
- Practice makes perfect – As previously mentioned, Irene’s classical guitar music can be heard throughout the house on a regular basis. She masters each song by trying again and again until it comes naturally. I’d like to think that I have been working on my Spanish as much as she works on learning a song. Our daily conversations at lunch have helped me improve my Spanish with someone willing to take the time to listen and correct me. Though we often make mistakes in our respective skills, continued practice has helped us improve – little by little.
- Enjoy the people around you – Inviting people over to your house is not as common in Spain as it is in the United States. In fact, it’s quite rare to have people other than family members over! Occasionally, Irene invites her best friend from school over to eat lunch since they have a break in the middle of the school day to go home to eat and rest or catch up on some studying. Whenever her friend is over, the two are always having a good time laughing and watching their favorite television shows. I was lucky enough to be invited to my Spanish friend’s house last weekend to eat a “typical Spanish meal” and get to know each other better. While I was there, I could not help but thinking how truly special it was to be able to enjoy a meal with a friend – like the meals Irene and her best friend share. Spending time with people (whether it be your family, friends, or mentors) is a great way to learn more about people and appreciate the relationships you have on daily basis.
Though are plenty of other things Irene has taught me (like how to eat certain foods or what television channels are the best) these are the things I am most grateful to learn. I feel her everyday actions and care free spirit have encouraged me to try new things, continue working on my Spanish, and make new friends while I am abroad. As you can tell – she is definitely strong, smart, and bold!
Classmates Connecting Cultures