True Tell All of Living in a Homestay

Chirlien Pang
October 30, 2016

Hey guys! I briefly mentioned in my first post that I am living in a homestay, and I've seen that there aren't many posts about living in a homestay abroad, so I figured that I'd fill some of that void by describing my month-and-a-half experience of living abroad.

First, I want to say that every experience is different, depending on the place, the person, and the host family, so my experiences will be similar to and differ from other people’s. A little information about me: I've never lived abroad before, and I've never lived with another family. For most of college, I had my own room in a suite with my friends. I don't really have any food restrictions and am for the most part open to trying new foods and meeting new people. The reasons that I chose to live in a homestay was because I wanted a genuine experience of the Spanish culture, some authentic Spanish cuisine, some advice about Spanish culture and sites, and as an added bonus, it was little cheaper than some of the other living options.

I know I said this in my first post, but I still stick by it: living in a homestay is one of the best decisions that I have made so far while being here. I was lucky with the family that I got paired with in that I live with a really caring and charismatic older woman and her son. I share a room with my roommate who is also in this program, and a Kenyan woman who is in a master’s program stays in another bedroom. My room is relatively big, and includes two closets, two desks, a window, and night stands. My roommate and I also share our own bathroom. One of the best things about living in a homestay is that I get a taste of some typical Spanish foods, and I also save a lot of money by not having to buy coffee, breakfast, or dinner every day. Additionally, I don’t know about anyone else, but one of the most dreaded parts of college was doing laundry and cleaning on my own. My host mother and the cleaning person do my laundry, as well as clean the bathroom and my room weekly. IES prepared me for how eco-friendly Barcelona is and how some families may be strict about when they clean, but I have not had any issues. While I take quicker showers than normal, I never feel rushed. My host family also respects my roommate and me a lot and never enters our room or goes through our stuff without permission. In addition, my host mother has cleared out some space in the refrigerator for our groceries, and she has given us advice and new insight about Barcelona and what it has to offer.

Now onto some not-so-great parts about living in a homestay: the first thing that I have to mention is the food and the meal schedule. People eat a lot later in Spain than in the U.S., and I have to follow that schedule while living in a homestay. While I have gotten a little used to it, eating dinner at 9 or 9:30pm is definitely something I still struggle to cope with. My advice is to have some snacks around to eat at 6 or 7pm to curb the hunger. Next, the portions are a lot smaller than what I am used to at home. The food may also not be what you like or want to eat. While I have had some great Spanish meals at my homestay, there have also been some times when the meals left me a little astonished. It can be hard not having access to the kitchen to cook food on my own, either. Finally, especially because I speak very little Spanish and my host family eats dinner altogether as a family every night, it can be a little awkward at times. I have definitely struggled through some dinners, completely confused by the conversation (but I got through it—Google Translate is my savior). Lastly, there are a lot of limitations because I am living in an actual home. I have to be conscientious and respectful when going out and coming back at night, and I usually cannot have friends over to hang out. Certain parts of the house can be less modern than what one is used to, such as the Wi-Fi not always working.

The only guidance that I can give is to be open-minded and to get your head out of the American perspective. Studying abroad does not last forever, so try to embrace and adapt to what may be new and uncomfortable in the three and a half months here. If there is something you really cannot deal with, I would suggest respectfully talking to your host family (it’s really not that hard; I did it in my broken Spanglish!). IES provides a lot of support with BCCs (similar to RAs) and advisors to talk to, as well. If nothing works out, at the end of the three and a half months here, you will have some good stories to tell back home :) .  Hope this was helpful! Talk soon!



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Chirlien Pang

<p>Hi! My name is Chirlien and I am a native New Yorker, going to school at the at the University of Rochester. While I am a science student, I also really enjoy writing, photography,and journalism. I am so excited to be studying abroad in Barcelona this fall. Come with me on this journey as I try to learn the ropes of Barcelona&#39;s unique culture and people-hopefully I don&#39;t get too lost!</p>

2016 Fall
Home University:
University of Rochester
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