I have been staying with my host family for five weeks now. After thoroughly embarrassing myself the first couple of days while I adjusted to the cultural differences, I now feel like I am part of the family. I would highly recommend this housing option if you want to practice your language skills, watch fun Italian game shows on TV with actual Italians, and eat the best dinners of your life.
On the day of my arrival I was picked up by my host mom in Siena. On the drive home we picked up the oldest daughter, around my age, from school. They were both very friendly to me and asked about my flight. We talked in Italish--50% Italian, 50% English. After the short drive home they helped me pull my fifty-pound suitcase up a VERY steep hill to our apartment. Once there I got to meet the dad and the younger daughter. They showed me my room, gave me a quick tour of the house, asked me what I wanted for future dinners and breakfasts, and left me time to rest and unpack. Later in the day when I had to meet with the other IES Abroad people, the two daughters walked me to the piazza, even though it is two minutes away, so I wouldn’t get lost.
The day after I could not figure out how to open the front door to leave for school! I accidentally stumbled into the daughter’s room, waking them up in the process, and they showed me how to open the door. They also thought some of the ways I ate food was a little strange. For example, they pick up their cake slices and eat it with their hands, but they always make sure I have a fork.
As for my accomodations, I have my own room, but share a bathroom. Every week my host mom does my laundry for me, even though I tell her I can do it myself. When I go away on weekend trips, I always come back to a clean room with fresh sheets and towels. At the end of a long day, it is comforting knowing there will be someone to greet me with plenty of delicious food on the dinner table.
During dinner, we often watch TV. First the news, where I can ask about the political situation in Italy and their never-ending protests, and they can ask me about Trump. Afterwards, game shows come on. The people on the TV talk so fast that I sometimes have to ask what exactly is happening, but the shows are always so entertaining and it helps facilitate good conversation while we eat.
I love living with an Italian host family. It’s nice to have the privacy of my own room, but still have people checking in on me right to ensure I eat enough and get to class on time. My family has cooked me some amazing pasta, lasagna, and pizza, and I never have to worry about going hungry. I feel immersed in this beautiful culture and confident in the fact that I am not missing out on an authentic Italian experience.
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<p>I am 19 years old and am a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin. I am working towards an anthropology degree because I am fascinated in all the different cultures, religions, and languages around the world. My hobbies include sewing, reading, hiking, camping, and traveling. Every summer I go backpacking with my family. Our most recent trip was to Rocky Mountain National Park. I am very excited to study abroad in Siena, Italy so I can practice my Italian and become immersed in a new culture.</p>