Life in a Homestay: Sevilla
Finding housing in another country can be pretty daunting as the regulations vary by country, and you may not have a familiarity with what is considered good pricing, location, etc. One of the great benefits of studying abroad with CEA is that all housing accommodations are taken care of before arrival in the host country. If you’re looking into studying abroad in Sevilla (which I can’t recommend enough), there are three different housing options you can choose from, based on what you want out of your experience: apartment, Casa de Sevilla, or a homestay.
During my experience in Sevilla, I lived in a homestay and had a great experience with my host mom and roommate. From my own personal homestay experience, here is some advice that I feel will maximize your own experience:
Personalize your room
When you’re studying abroad, there will undoubtedly be a period of time when you feel homesick. Sure, endless tapas, paella and gelato are wonderful – but even those savory tastes start to dull when you’re missing family, friends, and your own room at home. Bring your favorite photos, personalize your laptop and water bottle with your favorite stickers, bring some little trinkets and keepsakes from home to put on your desk. Anything that reminds you home isn’t so far away. Remember, a semester flies by much quicker than you expect!
Communicate with your host parents
Since your host parent cooks three meals a day for you, it’s super important to always touch base with them! If you’re not going to make it home for lunch or dinner, make sure to send them a message in WhatsApp. I also highly recommend finding a weekly activity that you can do together with your host parents and roommates. My roommate, host mom, and I would would watch “Tiempos de Guerra” every Wednesday night with bowls of popcorn and predict who was going to fall in love or die next. It was a great bonding experience that allowed me to open up with my host mom.
Be aware that your host family sees the world through a different lens than you do and challenge yourself to let go of your own assumptions and preconceptions and be open minded. That’s why you’ve taken the step to study abroad in a new country, to grow and learn to be culturally competent. This crosses over to the kitchen too. Spanish food is so delicious and its taken seriously as a social activity. Try everything at least once. You’ll probably be surprised by what you like. I had never eaten rabbit before I went to Spain, and honestly…I thought it was just chicken.
Practice, Practice, Practice
There is a very good chance that your host parents will speak little to no English. Don’t view it as a challenge, but instead as an opportunity. Practice speaking to them a little every day and you will be amazed at your improvement by the end of the program. ¡Viva la vida!
Amanda P. is the Fall 2017 MOJO Blogger and international intern in Seville, Spain. She is currently a Senior studying Global Studies & Communications at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.