Friday, March 10, 2017

Host Families!

Hey everyone!!! My name is Britney and I am studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. For my first blog post I wanted to talk about host families and home stays!

Before coming to Spain I was really clueless on where I wanted to live. The idea of living with a host family really sparked my interest, but I had heard from a couple people that they had had some weird experiences.

Regardless, I decided to choose the home-stay route to get the full Spanish experience!! I contacted my university in Madrid and asked them if they would help set me up with a family and they agreed. I filled out an application for what I was looking for in a family, sent it in, then waited........Weeks passed and I didn't hear back from the university. I sent out more emails and still received no response. After MONTHS I finally received an email telling me that my options were very limited and that I needed to pay a fee first before even being able to see those options. Well to that I said, NO THANK YOU, and took matters into my own hands. And I can honestly tell you I am so so so happy with my decision.

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT saying this will happen to you or that this is something that occurs often. I just wanted to share my story and let people out there know that if your university is not helping you, it may be better to just figure out accommodation yourself.

I used and found that it was cheaper, easier to pay, and had a WIDE variety of options and families to choose from.

It was on this site that I found my amazing host family. Not only are they the sweetest people, but their house is clean, I live with other really cool exchange students, and their home is a 5 minute walk from the center of the city. You can't get any better than that am I right?! I am also paying a significantly less amount of money than I would if I went through the university! Bonus!

For anyone that is studying abroad and wondering where they should live, I would without a doubt recommend living with a host family...10/10. There are endless amounts of benefits that come with living with a local. You have advice about the city at your fingertips. You get to see what kind of food they make and even learn how to make it for yourself. You have the opportunity of learning another language if your chosen country does not speak English. You feel like you have a home, and so much more. The list goes on and on! I couldn't be more grateful for my host family and how they have helped me adjust to living in Spain. They really are my Spanish familia.

With that being said, I wanted to share some stories and memories that I've had with my Spanish dad while being here in Spain. I hope you'll take time to read it and it might convince you to live with a host family when you go abroad! Here it goes:

Every single night Michelle & I come home from school & prepare dinner with our host dad. We take about an hour to make a 3 course meal which includes dessert always (: the meals are always SUPER healthy, have absolutely no salt added, & the dessert is always some type of fruit (pears, bananas,apples) or occasionally honey & cheese. While eating dinner we are only allowed to talk in Spanish & we sit for about 3 hours having the funniest conversations about random things until it's about midnight. Most of the conversations include Michelle & Miguel making fun of my terrible Spanish (lol). The other day Miguel brought his friends over for dinner & one of them brought a bag of Lay's Salt & Vinegar chips. Michelle & I were so excited to eat some but when Miguel saw us eating them he was mortified. He took them away from us & said were not allowed to eat that crap in his house. Only HEALTHY & NATURAL food hahaha. He also makes his own soaps & face washes & teas from all natural ingredients & makes us try them.

Last night we made a dish that is famous in Spain called Tortilla de Patata, also known as the Spanish omelette. The dish is so simple and usually only consists of eggs, potatoes, and onions, but is SO GOOD. When I first tried this dish my first thought was "Oh my gosh this is amazing, and it doesn't contain cheese OR salt?!" Crazy right, us Americans are so used to those two ingredients on everything. We loved it so much that Miguel taught us how to make our own. He always says that you have to put time, love, and care into whatever you're making: It's an art, he says. We turned on some Enrique Iglesias music and danced our way through the kitchen putting all our care into this dish. Later to find out Miguel knows Enrique Iglesias and can get us his autograph (say whaaaat). This was the first dish Miguel let us make ourselves and after coaching us from behind, it turned out delicious. I can't wait to bring this recipe back to California and share it will all my friends and family!

All in all choosing to stay in a home stay was seriously one of the best decisions & I can't tell you how amazing it feels to have someone in Spain that I basically call my dad & to feel apart of a little family. Not to mention my Spanish is slowly (& I mean slowly) coming along ! (:


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