My favorite part of Spanish culture that I’ve gotten to observe firsthand is their focus on family, which is something I see every day living with my host family. When I was applying to study abroad I was really wondering whether it would be better for me to live in an apartment or with a family, but if I knew then what I did now there wouldn’t have even been a contest.
The family I live with has two little kids, which has been really fun for my roommate and I, but it also means that our host parents are always busy. Luckily, they live in the same building as my host mom’s parents, who take care of the kids on a pretty regular basis, and cook dinners for the family if the mom is too busy to cook. It’s a really sweet arrangement and it’s so fun to be a part of because there are always extended family members coming over and spending time here.
Living with a family has helped me see first-hand why Spain doesn’t have more social problems although the unemployment here is at about 25%, with about 50% for people in my age group; It’s that the family life here is so strong. People in Spain live with their families much longer than people in the U.S., often until they get married. They seem to generally put more emphasis on familial connections than the typical American family.
Growing up, I usually spent two or three days a week with my grandparents, but I was really lucky that my family lives so close together. Here, my host grandparents house is the hangout spot for everyone in the family it seems, and it’s great; They have lunch and visit each other almost every single day. It’s really sweet to see how much they all help each other and how much time they spend together, and this seems pretty typical for Spanish families.
I think this system is much better than in the U.S., where it’s practically stigmatized to live with your family after graduating from college. It’s really cool here that there’s no stigma to living with your family until you’re a full-fledged adult, and that people here stay close to home even after they’re out of the nest.