Typically, the story of anyone’s study abroad experience is centered around their exciting adventures throughout cities unknown and places unexplored. And while my experience has followed that same narrative (traveling to Oktoberfest in Munich and celebrating La Mercè in Barcelona all in the same weekend), I would like to take a moment to appreciate one of the most often overlooked adventures of the study abroad experience: the homestay.
I have had the pleasure of being placed in the warm and comfortable home of Maria Dolors and Arman, my adopted Spanish grandparents, and every day they have welcomed me with the same vibrant enthusiasm that helps make Barcelona feel more and more like home. Their spacious apartment in the neighborhood of Les Corts has become my safe haven, and that is in no small part because of the immense kindness they have shown me. I am excited to come home every day, which is not a common theme amongst other study abroad students.
Our nightly dinners serve as my window into the Catalan culture and Maria Dolors and Arman’s story. In the most recent weeks our lively conversations have naturally been centered on the Catalan independence movement, as both of my host parents are heavily involved in and passionate about the fight for freedom for the Catalan people. And while my knowledge of the history and political context of the movement are severely limited, it is quite inspiring to see the emotion and passion that push my host parents to continue fighting. One evening my host mother told me, with a genuine sadness in her eyes, that they had suffered so much during the Franco dictatorship, and that although her age means she may not realistically benefit from independence, she refuses to allow her grandchildren to experience anything similar to what she lived through. She said that she fights for their future, not for her own. That statement demonstrated the love and passion that characterizes my host parents and the Catalan people in general.
I cannot thank my host parents enough for allowing me to enter into their home and for making me feel so comfortable in an unfamiliar environment. It is no easy task to open up your home to complete strangers, and I myself would not have the courage or determination to do it. Yet, in this apartment I am not a tenant or a renter, I am treated as a member of the family. I am so grateful to have been placed in this homestay, and I look forward to my time spent having lively conversations with my adopted family.
PS: The featured photo doesn't specifically apply subject of this blog post, but I thought the Catalan pride exemplified during La Mercè was very representative of that of my host parents. (Plus it was just a really cool moment)
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<p>I am a young Latina student who is passionate about travel, community empowerment, and celebration of diversity. I am the only daughter of Mexican immigrants and my life has been a colorful blending of Mexican and American cultures that has created a passion for the exploration of diverse cultures through travel. In all that I do, I try to learn about and immerse myself in worlds and communities unlike my own, because with each experience I grow as a conscious global citizen and will be able create bridges that can bring about positive social change in communities throughout the world.</p>