First Impressions of a Homestay


Abigal Swinney is a student at the University of Central Missori and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Sevilla, Spain

One unique aspect of studying abroad with ISA is the ability to participate in a homestay experience. As I was getting off the bus after just arriving in Sevilla, I was excited yet a little bit anxious to meet my señora. What if I could not understand anything that she says? What if my stomach cannot handle Spanish cuisine 24/7? What if I just didn’t like it there? I had heard nothing but great things about studying abroad in Spain and homestays, but of course every experience is different. Still, before I knew it my roommate and I were in a cab with our host mom and we were off to our apartment.

This is a picture of my host family. From left: My roommate, Carrie; my señora, Matilde; and me.

The first few days of the homestay experience were eye opening. Some moments were difficult and often there were obstacles that arose, but there were also many moments filled with laughter and many times when I was glad with the housing choice I made. Here are several of my first impressions from the homestay experience:

  1. It was difficult (and at times overwhelming) to understand my señora’s Spanish.

There are a variety of reasons why at first it was so difficult to understand what my señora was saying. Part of it was the Spanish and Andalusian accent, part of it was the speed of her talking, and another part was simply my knowledge of the language. At first, comprehending my señora’s Spanish was difficult and overwhelming, but after several days I started to understand more and communicate with her better.

  1. My señora’s food is amazing.

One unique detail about my señora is that she worked as a chef in a convent for about ten years. Needless to say, she is a great cook. Every meal that I have had so far has been delicious and I always leave the table with a full belly. Even though I walk everywhere, I’m pretty sure I’m going to gain weight by the end of the semester from all of the delicious meals.

This is a meal that we had for lunch. In Spain, lunch is the biggest meal of the day and typically includes the most food.
  1. Spaniards live a simple life.

In Spain, most people live in relatively small apartments and simply do not have the space for a lot of stuff. When I first walked into my señora’s apartment, I immediately noticed that it was tiny compared to what I am used to yet had all the necessities. This observation gave me a totally difference viewpoint on life and it was refreshing to see that living simple can be very manageable.

All in all, I am very glad that I chose to participate in a homestay. My señora is very precious and has welcomed me with open arms. Furthermore, I have learned so much through this experience and have grown a lot both with my Spanish and my perspective of the world.

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