Home Sweet Homestay: Seville
Living in a homestay was the only housing option I was interested in when I decided to study abroad. I always pictured living in a quaint, traditional home, waking up to voices speaking an unfamiliar language, and integrating into a new and truly different family. In many ways, my experience in a homestay has panned out to be quite similar to what I imagined.
Right now, I live in the center of Seville with Juan, Eloisa, and my roommate, Akhila. Our routine runs like clockwork. Our makeshift family eats lunch and dinner every day together at 3 PM and 9 PM, respectively. Akhila and I, relaxing in our room, are alerted to the approaching meal by a loud knock at the door.
“¿Comemos?” asks Elo.
Usually we have a main dish, a side of vegetables or salad, a basket of bread, and a bowl of fruit. The main dish is always different: pastas, soups, bean dishes, paellas, tortillas. Each day we experience traditional Andalusian fare, but with a slant: the usual meat-heavy meals are vegetarian. This is one thing that confirms my choice to live in a homestay. Since we have been able to try traditional food, my roommate and I have never felt that our experience was lesser for not eating meat.
Living with Juan and Elo is similar, I imagine, to living with my grandparents. Once per week, Elo washes our clothes, cleans our rooms, and changes our sheets. She greets us in the morning with a big smile. Before we leave the house, she reminds us to stay safe. Juan will point to our pocketbooks and warn us about pickpockets. (Seville is incredibly safe and I have never encountered a pickpocket or a sketchy situation.) The only difference from living with family is that we are able to come and go as we please; both Akhila and I have a set of keys to the house. Our homestay has all of the perks of living at home with none of the constraint.
At home, though, your family speaks the same language as you. Elo and Juan speak almost no English. This has been both a challenge and a blessing. It is often tricky to meet Spanish speaking friends because between travel, school, and socializing with the English speaking people I already know, I do not have a ton of time. Elo and Juan have allowed me to practice speaking Spanish every day. At dinner we talk about fútbol, local news, and the food on the table. They speak quickly and with strong Andalusian accents – dropping s’s and adding th’s and abbreviating like no one’s business. We exchange grathia’s and ha’ luego’s and we eat at trey. It is often hard to understand them, but I am definitely better off for trying.
I am very glad I decided to live in a homestay. Living in a foreign country can be intimidating, but here – because of Elo and Juan – I feel right at home.
Kelly M. is the Spring 2018 MOJO Blogger in Seville, Spain. She is currently a Sophomore studying Communication & Marketing at Clemson University.