Being away from your family an entire semester can be really difficult, especially if you’re a family-oriented person like me. From day one, my host mom has made me feel so welcomed and like I was truly a part of the family. Even when we have found it hard to communicate (because my Spanish is a work-in-progress), she has been nothing but kind and loving. Every day when I get home, Mama Angeles is in the living room ready to ask me, “¿que tal tú día?” and wait patiently while I speak very slowly in her native language and tell her all about my day.
My host mother has three children, but only one is in the house this semester because the other two are also studying abroad, a daughter in the United States and a son in Italy. So to some extent, I have received all the love that she would be giving her own children if they were here. My “host brother,” so to say, has also become a close friend to me during my time here in Seville.
Every night, we all have dinner together as a family and it warms my heart to know that I will have family on another continent for the rest of my life. They have been the family and support system here in Spain that I was so sad to leave behind in the United States, and I couldn’t be more thankful.
I can confidently say (and I think Mama Angeles would agree) that my Spanish has gotten significantly better throughout my first month in Spain. As I tell her about my day and as we converse over dinner, she is constantly teaching me new words and showing me how to make my sentences flow better.
Sometimes, we sit in the kitchen and laugh at the things I’ve said wrong and the words I’ve gotten confused. For example, just last night when Mama Angeles offered me a second serving of dinner, I said, “no gracias, estoy llevar,” which means “no thanks, I am carrying.” Blink. Blink. I immediately knew what I had said and we laughed as I corrected myself and said, “no gracias, estoy llena,” (no thanks, I am full). Though I make many mistakes when I am speaking Spanish with my host mom, I never make the same mistake twice because I learn from them each time.
My favorite part about living with my host family is the friendships that I have developed with them. Mama Angeles is always so excited to hear about where I’ve planned my weekend travels so that she can tell me all her favorite places to eat and visit while I’m there. She encourages me to “estar en la calle todo el día,” or “ to be in the street all day long,” so that I learn the language, the culture, meet natives, and experience all that Seville has to offer.
My host brother is always telling me cool places to go to meet other young locals and get better at my Spanish. We also both love to run, so he has literally drawn out routes for me on where to run along the river to see the most beautiful sites. He has introduced me to some of his friends and I’ve gotten to spend time talking with them (in Spanish – yikes!) about everything you could think of. They have given me countless restaurant recommendations, names of beautiful parks to visit, and many other locations such as museums, stores, tapas, etc. throughout Seville.
Living with my host family has been the thing that made my 10/10 experience in Seville an 11/10. Highly recommend.