When I committed to study abroad in Buenos Aires last spring, I filled out my living form and selected “Residence Hall” instead of “Homestay.” I didn’t have much logic behind this decision, but rather I referred to my imagination. I pictured myself living in a cramped apartment and sharing a room with multiple younger host siblings who would be running around me screaming in Spanish and my host mom would be insisting that I come home by 10 p.m. because it’s “her house her rules.” Needless to say I was wrong.
I got what I initially wanted and was assigned to a Residence Hall before I had a last-minute, nervous change of heart and contacted my study abroad advisor to switch to a homestay, worried that I’d be more lonely in a Residence Hall. I clearly had no idea what to expect in either option, and thus couldn’t make up my mind. Ultimately, I was placed in Mónica Garrido’s homestay with two other housemates named Natalie and Jade. My impulsive panic about a Residence Hall turned out to be a saving grace, for my homestay has been one of the best parts about my time abroad.
On a superficial level, the apartment is spacious and we all have our own bedrooms. We are provided breakfast every morning (usually bread and fruit) and a hot dinner 5 nights a week. We have Mónica as a resource to provide us with “insider’s information” about restaurants, transportation, and money exchanges. Living in a homestay has provided me with basic necessities like clean sheets every week and Wi-Fi access, but more importantly it has given me a deeper emotional comfort that has made Buenos Aires home. For one thing, I look forward to dinner every night from Monday-Friday. This is in part because Argentines eat at 9 or 10 p.m. so I’m always starving, but it is also due to the coziness of the four of us gathering every evening to share a hot meal and converse in Spanish about the day’s events. As someone who cannot eat gluten, I am additionally grateful for how accommodating Mónica has been about my dietary restriction—we all eat gluten-free pasta and Mónica serves me gluten-free milanesa (breaded meat) and alfajores (Argentina cookies) for dessert.
I’ll never forget how I felt a couple Wednesdays ago when I had class all day until 5 p.m. and I had to walk home for 25 minutes in the pouring rain. I rode up the elevator feeling hungry, wet, and defeated. However this changed when I entered the warm and clean apartment and Mónica and her helper were preparing dinner together in the kitchen. Mónica gave me a bowl of the hot and creamy casserole to try as an after-school snack, and we sat at the table together and conversed. I told Mónica about my hobbies of photography and watercolors, and once I finished my snack I showed her my work. This 30-minute interaction seems minimal, but it made such a difference to my morale. This Saturday, my boyfriend, Charlie, is coming to Buenos Aires and I am so excited for us to eat dinner together at my homestay on Monday night. Mónica has already asked me what kind of ice cream he wants for dessert.
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<div>My name is Lucy McNamara and I am twenty years old. I am from Bolton, Massachusetts but am currently studying <span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">history as a junior at the University of Virginia. I am the tenth out of twelve children in my family, thus I am an </span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">experienced arguer and am considering law school! I love to read, write, cook, and take photographs, and I could not be </span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">more excited to share all my new experiences in Buenos Aires with you.</span></div>