Living with a host family in a foreign city, country, culture, and language is certainly one of the most challenging, and sometimes exhausting, experiences possible for any student. By the end of a term living abroad in Segovia, however, Proctor students almost without exception rank the homestay experience as one of their very favorite aspects of the program. Here students write of their experiences living with Spanish families and reflect on the deep learning that occurs from living life en español.
Preston with his host mother Carmen!
After we finish our lunch, we continue to sit around the table sipping coffee. I listen and do my best to grasp hold of the words flying off their tongues back and forth. They raise their voices, tormenting one another, but somehow the conversations end in grins and a sympathetic pat on the arm. They quickly turn their attention to me, my hobbies, my classes and my feelings about Spain. I am surprised with my ability to express all that I am thinking without receiving confused looks from my family. Once Sevillanas dancing is mentioned, Mario gets up out of his seat and attempts a sevillana step. I stand up only to correct his footing, and, before I know it, we are dancing around the kitchen, delicately spiraling our hands and fingers in circular motions, cocking our heads and holding them high as if we were the most famous dancers in all of Spain.
~ Charlotte Hadley
Mitch's parents visit from the U.S. and have lunch with his Spanish host family, María Ángeles, Victor, and Cecilio at Cándido near the aqueduct.
After lunch María and family lead them on a tour of the most impressive monuments of Segovia’s old town.
The following evening Cecilio prepared a delectable dinner for Mitch and his parents at their home!
I sit on the far end of a white table that is pushed against the wall of this corridor-like kitchen. When I say the far end, I only mean relatively speaking, as in it isn't very far from one end of the table to the other. All the space in the kitchen has been accounted for. Extra stools are underneath the table (which extends), under the counter is more storage, a washer, and the lavaplatos. The pantry pulls out from a space next to the refrigerator that you wouldn’t have thought existed, and there is a cabinet on the balcony to keep drinks cold when the fridge is full. All the room here has been accounted for, and yet these welcoming strangers have still found room for me.
I pour myself a glass of water. Primavera Fuente Natural. I do this every day, twice a day. I sit across from my padre as my madre finishes up la comida, distracting myself with bottle labels until we are all seated. Soon enough Paqui sits down with Antonio and me, pulling a seat from the stack under the table. That’s when the questions begin: how are you, how was your day, did you hear about this, how was your sandwich, do you like the soup? And then, all of the sudden, “¡Madre mía, el pan! Olvidé el pan!” The bread. How could one forget the bread? And that’s when our daily charade begins. She turns around with baguette and knife in hand, putting it on the table in front of me. She puts the knife six inches from the baguette end. “¿Así?” I wave my hand to indicate less. “¿Más?” I fruitlessly try to explain that less is more as she looks at me with the expression she uses when asking if I want Nutella or flan, or when she wants me to join in on teasing Antonio. When we finally settle on a knife positioning, she sighs and moves the knife a centimeter further back before cutting.
~ Gracie Hovem
Recently Greer and Juana practiced making tarta de queso together and Greer is excited to bring her skills back to the United States.
Frances and her mother with her Spanish family: Alejandro, Ruben, Conchi and Roberto!
I walked into the house the first night, and my new padre thought I was crying. Miscommunication. I sat down at the dinner table in front of me was a big bowl of grey worms. Miscommunication. My hermana said she just ate a jar of eyes. Miscommunication. Personally, I find these conversations hilarious but, day by day, the more I learn from my teachers and family, the less is lost in translation. Each day, my family teaches me more about their food, their traditions, their humor, and their lives.
At this very moment in time, I am sitting in la sala with my new family. The Spanish news buzzes in the background, the refraction of light from the chandelier reflects an array of rainbow prisms across the amber walls, and while everyone is evidently occupied at the moment, we all are together as one, a family. A short few weeks ago, these people were strangers but now I have become familiar with the way they operate as a family and feel almost as though I have become a part of their family.
~ Lindsay McCarthy
Preston with his five host siblings and host dad!
Twins Fabio and Mauro try Preston’s shoe on for size.
Brotherly bonding time in the sala.