Here I am on a bus with broken wifi driving through the curvy roads of Cantabria watching the fields of la España verde, teary-eyed.
I had the privilege of spending a few days with my host family in their summerhouse in a small town in the north of Spain called Pechón. It was an exceptional experience that truly brought me closer to my host family.
Pechón is a small pueblo, or village, that I would describe as something like…Heaven. You are just a few miles away from Picos de Europa, a mountain range, and walking distance from the beach. In Europe, people tend to choose their vacation spots between the beach and the mountains. Pechón offers both.
However, more importantly, life in the pueblo is an experience that I think is almost impossible to have in New York City. You feel a sense of perfect safety in the pueblo: everyone knows each other and is united by the pueblo they belong to. As someone who lived in Pechón for only a few days, I noticed that one participates in the life of the pueblo in two ways: First, you arrive at your home as a family, proud of your summerhouse, as a very close and excited unit. Then, once you arrive, you are automatically part of a community of people who are like one big family. Families make plans to have lunch together in nearby towns or at the beach and children can play in the streets alone until midnight or later. If my host family isn’t out with the townspeople, they usually play cards together or watch a movie. It is kind of a paradoxical phenomenon: everyone is entirely themselves, individually, and at the same time, completely part of a larger community.
I was already familiar with what it is like to live in a pueblo because my Italian grandmother lives in a village (it’s bigger than Pechón but the sense of community is the same). Yet, I can never stop being enchanted by the sense of belonging to a warm, safe, and welcoming pueblo that envelops everything. It is a pleasant change from living in New York City where I can often be entirely surrounded by people, and yet feel completely alone.
Anyway, here I am teary-eyed on this bus because I am gradually realizing that my time here in Spain is not going to last forever and it is always painful to leave people who love you. The experience I am having with my host family is truly something exceptional that I never would have imagined. I am like another daughter to them, meaning that I am loved no matter what and also expected to help out with things that I would be expected to do in my biological family in New York, like clearing the table. The most remarkable thing is to see that through simple every day life—small gestures like my host mom making my favorite tortilla for dinner, or me buying sweets for my host family—I am growing to love my host family as I love my own.
I have go back to New York in a bit, and yet I am sure that the experience of my semester in Spain will stay with me forever because it is changing me every day and helping me grow and discover who I am.
Enjoy the pics!
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Sofia--perhaps Sofía is more fitting in this case--is a third year Philosophy and Spanish Literature student at Fordham University. Some of her interests include photography, translating, singing, learning foreign languages, and cats--specifically red chubby ones. As the daughter of a Milanese mother, and New Yorker father, with a passion for Latin America, Sofia often finds herself lost in translation sipping on her favorite drink--yerba mate. She wants to spend her semester abroad in Madrid, Spain with her eyes wide open to live the experience to the full allowing you to take a step into her life. ¡Ven a ver!</span></p>