A Day in the Life of a Homestay Student

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Adam Smith
November 13, 2023
Street in Old Neighborhood of Barcelona

I slink out of bed between nine and ten in the morning; unless I’ve had a particularly long night, in which case I would be asleep until the early hours of the afternoon. Almost every day, the allure of lying back down into the warm embrace of the sheets is too tempting to resist. I lie there for another five or ten minutes thinking about how I really need to get up and start my morning routine. With a surge of willpower, I’m finally able to suppress my longing to return to sleep, and I get myself up. I kick on my slides and lumber into the kitchen. Breakfast consists of roughly the same thing each day, but I like to switch up the rotation to keep life interesting: scrambled eggs, white bread with cheese and ham, a yogurt, or cereal (strictly either Special K or Corn Flakes). I have a shot of espresso from the Nespresso machine and mix it with a splash of milk; the irritatingly loud sound that the machine makes while it pours the espresso is usually what really wakes me up as opposed to the caffeine. Sometimes my host—Ana—will come into the kitchen, having herself just woken up, and we exchange a “Buenos Dias”, but neither of us are sufficiently awake to say anything more. On the few occasions that she does say something else to me at this moment in my day, while my body is active, but my ability to speak Spanish is not, I stumble through a response that usually leaves her with a look of either concern or complete incomprehension, or both.

            After getting ready, if I have time before class, I will do any last-minute homework and make sure I haven’t entirely missed an assignment or majorly important reading that’s due for the class that I’m about to set off for. My first class of the day is always at the IES Abroad Center. Given my host’s apartment’s close proximity, I always walk, cherishing the fifteen minutes where I can just let the city buzz around me while I listen to music. There’s a catharsis in the simple exercise, the familiarity of the route, the scenery and, up until recently, as fall has finally come to Barcelona, the beautiful weather. If I have my Tuesday-Thursday schedule, I stop along the way to buy a sandwich to-go as I don’t have time to go buy food in the break period between my classes. Sometimes I will leave the apartment particularly early in order to stop at a café and read a few pages from a book written in Spanish I bought about Che Guevara’s travels around South America before he became a revolutionary. This small activity gives me a rush of confidence in preparation for my back to back Spanish classes. After class I tend to go somewhere to eat or study with a friend or a group of friends. The IES Abroad Center in Barcelona is right in the heart of the city, so there’s a plethora of options. My two classes at the local university- Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF)- begin at either 4:30 or 6:30 in the afternoon, so I don’t usually go back to the apartment during the day. I’ve always found myself getting easily distracted when doing work in my bedroom, so during the day if there’s homework that I urgently need to get done I’ll go, by myself or with a friend, to a coffee shop with internet. For a Travel Writing class that I’m taking at IES Abroad, we went on a class-mandated fieldtrip to a literary café called LAIE a few blocks from the classroom. It’s the perfect environment to be studious, and I’ve been visiting it frequently ever since we went as a class.

            I take the metro to UPF every day; there and back. I spend two hours in my class and then hop on the metro and take the exact same line I take to get there but in reverse. On my way back sometimes, the metro is packed; annoyingly, the ending times of my classes coincide with rush hour. It is really like a tin of sardines on some days, and I find myself without any space to move. Fortunately, there are only three or four stops in between the metro near UPF and the one I need to get off at to transfer lines. On my way home after my Cinematic Creativity class, ending at 8:30, I always pass the same busker playing the harp outside the platform that I need to get to; actually, I often find myself running past him, as by this time in the evening I’m pretty hungry.

              Eating dinner with Ana and my roommate is one of my favorite parts of the day. First of all because Ana is a great cook and being able to have homecooked meals has definitely helped me in avoiding homesickness. The standard meal plan is some kind of meat accompanied by rice or pasta. However, Ana serves dishes that I would never eat at home, not least because normally I’m a picky eater but because the cuisine in Spain is clearly unlike what I’d be used to, dishes like Paella, Tuna Empanadas, or platters full of chickpeas, green beans, chorizo, and beef are some of the most noteworthy. But most importantly, dinner is the primary occasion that I get to practice conversational Spanish and actually spend time with Ana. With the demands of schoolwork, our highly differing schedules, and me keeping time for myself, I don’t get to see much of her, or my roommate for that matter. Around the table we can share laughs, exchange anecdotes, and with every passing meal I spend at the apartment I feel more rewarded by my homestay experience, and by extension more acclimated to my life in Barcelona. Dinners at the apartment are, as I mentioned the place where I can really practice speaking Spanish, so having the time to try out what I’ve learned and get used to how the language is spoken naturally, is extremely valuable.

            After we’ve finished eating, my roommate and I thank Ana for cooking and go off to our separate rooms. She has refused to let me help her clean up on numerous occasions; stating, “No, you’re on holiday.” I take the time after dinner to do some extra work, albeit languidly, as by this point, I’m worn out by the day and just want to collapse on my bed and turn my brain off. I usually give up on work around ten-thirty or eleven, depending on how fast-approaching the deadline is, and clock out for the day around midnight.     

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Adam Smith

I have a passion for storytelling, I like to spin mundane thoughts and pass-times into narrative spectacles on paper or in my mind. I think everything we do is part of a story and there is no such thing as a boring life.

2023 Fall
Home University:
Drew University
Media/Media Studies
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