My New Mom

Throughout the study abroad experience, I sometimes find myself feeling a little lonely. I came here completely by myself and moved in with a complete stranger I didn’t know, my house mom Helena (pronounced Elena).

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A picture I took of Helena on her birthday, February 20th, 2017

We only speak to eachother in Spanish, which has been the best immersion process for me. My Spanish has improved immensely, and I speak with confidence from practicing with her 24/7.

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Came home after school to all my laundry folded

Although Helena has helped me linguistically, I wasn’t expecting this woman to make such a positive impact on me. She makes me all my meals, cleans my laundry and folds my clothes, but most importantly has helped me become a better human being every day.

She tells me about her struggles and I tell her about mine. She’s lived a long life so far but it hasn’t been an easy one. After losing her husband at a very young age with a daughter, she was diagnosed with breast cancer at a very late stage. She has completely recovered, but what a traumatizing time. You would never know it, because everyday she gets up and greets me with a huge smile and a “Que tal Gracie?!” It amazes me that this woman decided to take students into her own home to help them grow, especially after she has gone through so much.

 

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The cake for my 21st

Last March was my birthday and at lunch (the most important and main meal in Spain) she brought me a cake with my name on it and 21 candles.

She made me feel at home without my family and made sure my 21st birthday was super special.

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Family, friends, and Helena came over for dinner!

My parents came to visit soon after, and we invited Helena over to my mom’s apartment for dinner. It made me so happy that they got to meet her because she has been such an important part of my life for these past four months. It was such a fun night, one that I’ll never forget. Seeing my family love Helena just as much as me made me so happy!

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Helena and I

Cheers to you Helena, thank you for making my abroad experience that much better!

Gracie D. is the Spring 2017 MOJO blogger in Madrid, Spain. She is currently a Junior studying integrated marketing communications at the University of Mississippi.

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