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Life with a Homestay

Alisa y Susana Alisa Wecker with her host Susana during Spring 2011 Orientation

Living with a Homestay: A Pleasant Surprise

By: Alisa Wecker (Brandeis University)

    Initially the thought of moving to a foreign country and living in a homestay was absolutely terrifying.  I couldn’t imagine anything more awkward than living in someone’s apartment for an entire semester.  As it turns out, living in a homestay has been an absolute blessing.  My anfitriona, Susana, is amazing.  She has showed me all around the city and I now consider myself an expert on the Spanish Metro System!  Rather than feeling all alone in a new city, it has been great feeling like I have someone who will help me with any problems I may run into during the semester.  Also, I can already see how living with an anfitriona will help expand my cultural horizons.  I’ve tried a ton of new foods since arriving in Spain and I’ve even noticed my vocabulary starting to expand. 

    It has only been a week since I moved into my homestay, however, in that time I have had the opportunity to explore the barrio around my apartment, and check out the cute stores, restaurants, and bars that I hope to frequent over the course of the semester.  One afternoon after orientation I even stopped by a little shoe store that was on my way from the Metro to buy a pair of flats.  Although it might seem unlikely, it is small tasks such as communicating with a shopkeeper that often pose the greatest challenges on a day-to-day basis.  The program directors and my anfitriona all speak slowly and clearly, and I am able to understand everything they say to me.  However, when I’m out on the metro or scoping out the amazing rebajas all over the city I am left to fend for myself.  While I have been able to handle all of this, it definitely serves as a constant reminder that I am in fact in a foreign country surrounded by a culture that is completely different from anything I’d previously experienced. 

    Despite my initial doubts about living in a homestay during my semester in Madrid, it has proved to be an extremely positive experience so far.  I hope that it will continue to allow me to learn and grow, as I become accustomed with the ins and outs of Spanish culture.


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