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One of the greatest parts of my study abroad experience was living with a host mom. She made my life easier in so many different ways, and as a result I could enjoy my semester much more!

Some of you may be wondering what living with a host mom entails. I lived in her apartment in the center of the city, where I had my own private room with a bed, a desk, and plenty of closet space. There was another American student from my program living with me as well, but he also had his own private room. She provided us with three meals a day, did our laundry, and overall gave us a deeper insight into Spanish life!

Food

One of the best things about my host mom was that she was a great cook. There was no better feeling than coming home from school and smelling the amazing meal she made for lunch. Some of my favorite things that my host mom made were croquetas, paella, beef stew, lentil soup, tortilla de patatas, and her cheesy penne pasta. Just thinking about it now makes my mouth water. She also made some of the best french fries I’ve ever had. She had a mini frialator and made them fresh for me, garnishing them with just a pinch of sea salt. When I say these fries were amazing, I really mean it. Some of you may come after me for saying this, but they could truly put McDonald’s fries to shame.

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Tortilla de Patatas that I made myself after returning home from Spain!

Anyway, our lunch always ended with a large bowl of melon. I haven’t been able to find it yet in the US, but it was called Christmas Melon, or Santa Claus Melon. The outside almost looks like a watermelon, but the inside looks similar to honeydew. After eating it each day, it slowly became my favorite fruit! It looks similar to honeydew, but it’s so much better. If you ever see it in an American grocery store, buy it! I promise you won’t regret it 😉

You will truly never go hungry when living with a host mom. I would be stuffed after each meal, and my host mom would still tell me I need to eat more. There were two separate occasions where I was laying in bed after a big lunch, and she came knocking on my door with a yogurt and plate of cookies because she said I still looked hungry! Even though I wasn’t, I graciously took the food and embraced the fact that my host mom really cared for me.

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After lunch my host mom knocked on my bedroom door and gave me this because she thought I was still hungry!

Learning Spanish

Another benefit to living with a host mom was that she only spoke Spanish. Yes, I consider this a benefit! It would have been easier if I could talk to her in English, but as a result I got SO much better at Spanish. English wasn’t even a backup option, because she only understood three English words: hello, thank you, and fork. Having to navigate my way through the day by only speaking Spanish was certainly a challenge, but it got easier as the semester continued. I barely understood anything my host mom said for the first few weeks, especially since we were in southern Spain where everyone speaks with a distinct accent.

The key was to not be afraid of making mistakes, and not being afraid to speak up when you don’t understand something. There were plenty of times where I had to tell my host mom, “I don’t understand, can you say it a little slower,” and she was more than willing to accommodate.

Family experience

Another cool experience I had while living with a host mom was that it really felt like a family. Even though it was just me, my host mom, and my roommate, I started to feel at home in that little apartment. I got to meet my host mom’s sister, who lived a couple floors above us. She was a huge soccer fan, so it was fun to discuss recent games with her. One of the directors of my study abroad program was actually my host mom’s niece, and she came over to our apartment with her children a few times. Small moments like this helped me feel more connected to Granada, and made me feel more at home.

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Immersion into spanish culture

Lastly, I want to talk about how living with a host mom truly immersed me in Spanish culture. Other than eating Spanish food, my host mom introduced me to many different Spanish TV shows. There was a small TV in the kitchen, and we would watch during every meal. During lunch, we usually watched the news. This was extremely helpful, not only because I was able to listen to people speaking Spanish, but it also gave me a better understanding of what was going on in Spain. During dinner, we would often watch a team-based trivia show called Boom!. I love trivia shows, like Jeopardy, and it was a fun challenge to answer the questions in Spanish.

Feeling like a spaniard

I was also able to learn some new things about Spanish culture simply by looking around my host mom’s apartment. The majority of Spanish homes don’t have air conditioning, so it can get a little hot in the summer months. Spanish homes also don’t have dryers, and instead you just hang your clothes on a line outside. Sometimes my host mom would take me and my roommate out to get some drinks and tapas, which is a common evening ritual in Spain. This taught us the social importance of mealtimes, where it’s all about relaxing and enjoying the company around you.

Overall, I am so glad that I was able to live with a host mom for the four months I was in Spain. I know people that studied abroad in other countries but lived in apartments without host families. They had to cook and clean after they came home from school, so they didn’t have as much time to simply enjoy their time abroad. I hope in this post I was able to show you how living with a host mom can enhance your experience abroad, and help to completely immerse you in another culture. I still try to reach out to my host mom once in a while, because she was such an integral part of the best four months of my life. If you have any other questions or comments about living with a host family abroad, let me know below!

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