Life in a Homestay

Categories: Uncategorized

By Jacob Henry

A homestay experience can be pretty daunting to think about if you are doing it for the first time. I was a little nervous and anxious too, but I almost immediately realized that I had no reason to be. I recently did a study abroad trip to Santander, Spain and stayed with a host family, a sweet older lady named Maria. Getting to Santander we flew into Madrid and from there took a bus to Santander. In Santander we met all of the host families outside of our university where from there they took us home. Before arriving in Spain, I had very little contact with my host mom, pretty much just a few texts just introducing ourselves and that was it so I was a little nervous about meeting her in person. She greeted me with a huge smile and a quick hug, grabbed my bags and we went back to her apartment.

Once there she showed me around, introduced me to her dog Piro and helped me unpack. She already had a meal prepped and ready, so we ate and talked for a little to get to know each other. She told me all about her past students and how much she enjoyed having people like me come stay with her. I was her first from North Carolina, so she asked a lot about what it was like, and I did the same asking her about Santander in Spain. She told me all about the city, its history, secret spots, and best restaurants. Then after that she jokingly kicked me out the apartment and told me to go explore, so I did that for a while. Day to day life was very enjoyable, she made me three meals a day, all three always very good, and we would sit and talk during lunch and dinner.  Throughout my time there she was very adamant that I travel as much as I could. She said that she had housed past students that never went anywhere outside Santander and missed out on a ton of new experiences.

I took her up on her advice and she even helped me pick out places to go to and what to do there. I ended up traveling about every other weekend and my only regret is not traveling more. Without my host mom’s recommendations, I would have missed out on so many new memories I got to make. If I were to ever study abroad again, homestays will always be my number one choice. You get to meet and form relationships with locals, become part of a new family and if your program is language oriented you get firsthand practice constantly. The opportunity to be able to speak Spanish with her at home honestly helped me more than the classes at the university. I became more comfortable with normal daily conversations and learned a lot of new things from her, language wise and also food wise. Overall, it was a 10/10 experience, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again!