Lost in Spain: Host Family 101

Dispatches from the Road, Spain, Studying Abroad, Walking — By on December 30, 2009 at 6:16 pm

By Molly Gallagher

LG International Correspondent

Host Family

Living with a host family is not an easy task. It is never 100 percent comfortable, because their house will never feel like your own. However, there are ways to make your stay the best it can be. After living with a host mom for almost four months I want to share my advice with you all:

1. Give a Compliment to Make a Request
Most host families want to make your stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. This does not mean you can inundate your host parent(s) with complaints every day. If you have a complaint, request or question try to buffer it with a compliment. For Example: “Manuela I loved that chicken you made last night! I also have a question for you. I was wondering if you could do my laundry a day early, because I have a friend visiting?”

2. Clean Up After Yourself
This is not your college dorm room, apartment or fraternity house. Put your toothbrush away, put your clothes away, don’t throw things on the floor and your host parent will like you that much more.

3. Tell Them What Food You Like!
My señora loved it when I tell her what food I like that she makes. She says it makes it easier for her. If you have the option of telling your host parent(s) what foods you want for breakfast tell them in the beginning! If you never tell your host parent(s) you hate tomatoes there is no way they will ever know.

4. Ask Them Questions
I have learned so much about Madrid and Spanish culture from my host mom. At dinner, I have asked her questions about Spanish culture and politics. She has given me advice about what restaurants to go to. Your host family lives in the city that you are staying in. They most likely have great advice about where to go, what to do, and can answer questions about culture, history, and politics. Don’t forget to ask them questions about their family. My señora loved when I asked her about her daughters and granddaughter.

5. Take a Walk with Them
Early in the semester I asked my host mom to take a walk with me around our neighborhood. She showed me a few grocery stores, drugstores, and a park close by. Without her showing me around it would have taken me a lot longer to find these places in my neighborhood.

Most importantly remember that your experience most likely won’t be perfect. If it is, great! Most students have a hard time adjusting to the different foods, smaller apartments and rooms (in Madrid), and sharing a house with a completely new family or individual. Give yourself some time to adjust and ask your host parents questions when you have them. Safe travels and home-stays!

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