A Home Among Strangers: Meeting My Host Family

After a five hour car ride to Miami, a nine hour plane ride to Madrid, a five hour layover, a one hour plane ride to Seville, and another two hours at the airport, you would think I’d had enough excitement for one day. But no. The real fun was about to begin.

It was finally time to meet my host family. The people I would be living with for the next three months who (did I mention?) don’t speak more than a few words of English. All I knew about them was that there would be two parents and three kids, ages 3, 5 and 7.

By the time I loaded my suitcases onto the bus and settled into my seat, my heart was racing. My profound lack of sleep was no longer an issue – I was wide awake with heightened nerves and sweaty palms, unable to believe that in the next twenty minutes, I would be moving into the home of five strangers.

With each passing minute, more and more students exited the bus with nervous waves, and I pressed my face against the window to watch them all give two besos to their new host family. And before I knew it, I was outside and staring at two of my new family members: a tan man with kind eyes and his 5-year-old daughter clutching his legs, her dark brown eyes peeking out from behind.

Hola, Melendi! Que tal!” said Alberto, and he grabbed my heavier bag to carry. I should mention that the entire family calls me by my last name – despite me telling them that my name is Crosby – but hey, they’re giving me three meals a day so they can call me whatever they please.

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The 15-minute walk to their tiny apartment was filled with me nervously stuttering whatever Spanish came to mind and laughing at Candela skipping down the cobblestone alley. When we finally arrived and lugged my bags upstairs, I was greeted by three foot tall bundle of energy – otherwise known as Tristana – who immediately flung her arms around my legs and began babbling endlessly in high-pitched Spanish. A minute later, her mother, Elena, appeared around the corner, rubbing her hands on her apron and pulling me in for a hug and two besos.

Are you hungry?” she immediately asked in Spanish. And before I could stop myself, I was nodding my head, suddenly aware that I had not eaten since the morning. Soon, my new family and I were huddled around the tiny kitchen table, inhaling delicious fettuccine alfredo with green peas and Iberian jamón, chatting about my travel day and laughing. Despite the language barrier, it felt natural. Like I was supposed to be here.

While I was initially overwhelmed living with a large family in such small quarters, it quickly turned out to be much more doable than I thought, especially once we all started back at school and work. Every day I look forward to crowding around the dinner table for la cena, having long chats with Elena as she washes the dishes, and listening to the kids wake up in the morning. I’ve lived here for over a week now, but I keep finding myself in awe of the fact that I’m actually here. In Spain. In Seville. In this home. And I couldn’t be happier.

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