When I was filling out my application to study abroad I decided to live in a homestay with a host family rather than an apartment with other American students. Living in a homestay is a great way to practice Spanish and have a relatively authentic view of the Spanish lifestyle. Besides, all of my friends who had studied abroad talked about how much they loved their host families!
About two weeks before I was leaving for my semester abroad ISA (International Studies Abroad- the program I chose to study with) posted a profile about my homestay. I was going to be living with a single woman, Lola, who was in her seventies and her little dog, Mae. I couldn’t wait to meet Lola and Mae! With only a couple weeks before meeting my “mama española” I set out to find the perfect homestay gifts to show her my appreciation!
Fast forward to our arrival in Sevilla: My roommate and I met Lola the first day we got to Sevilla, which was an event in itself. Our bus was driving through Sevilla when it turned down a street, stopped in the middle of the road and opened its doors. The sidewalk was crowded with a lot of people, which turned out to be everyone’s host families. Once my roommate, Hannah, and I found our host mom we were on our way to our new home- Hannah in Paco’s car (Lola’s family friend) and Lola and I in a taxi (we had to take two separate cars because of all of our luggage). Once we arrived to our new home we talked to Lola and Paco for a few minutes and then Hannah and I unpacked our suitcases, which was followed by dinner.
After the first couple days Hannah and I started to feel uncomfortable at Lola’s. We decided to make a list of the reasons why our current homestay was not working and talk to the housing department at ISA. On a Friday morning we headed to the ISA office to meet with Martin with the letter in tow. Martin was more than happy to address the problem, although he did not want to read our letter, instead he just asked what our main concerns were about our current homestay. By the end of our meeting we had resolved that it would be best if Hannah and I moved to a different homestay.
Making the decision to leave our current homestay was not easy. While Hannah and I were both unhappy we also felt bad for wanting to leave- it was definitely a Catch-22 situation: spend the next 4 months unhappy or offend Lola with the decision of moving out. Luckily I had Hannah to go through this less than pleasant experience with- I cannot imagine going through this situation alone.
The following week Hannah and I met with Manulo, also with ISA, to discuss our options. We were told that there were three possible options to choose from but if we waited until the following week there would be another option for us. Upon reviewing the options Hannah and I decided to wait a few more days, and I am so happy we did!
The following Monday was moving day. Manolo and Martin told us that one of them would call Lola the morning we were moving to tell her about our decision. On Sunday night Hannah and I packed our suitcases since we had class on Monday and we wanted to be ready to leave as soon as ISA came to pick us up. Hannah and I arrived at Lola’s that afternoon about a half hour before we to be picked up. When I opened the door Lola was sitting in a chair in the living room. When I saw her I said “hola.” When she saw Hannah she got up from her seat and walked towards her and asked why she did not tell her we were moving. Hannah said sorry and thanked her for her hospitality and we went to our bedrooms to finish packing the last of our items.
At 5:15 Manolo arrived to pick us up to take us to our new home. We said goodbye to Lola, thanked her and returned her keys. With our luggage in a taxi for a second time we made our way to our new home in Los Remedios. When we got to our new homestay we met our new “mama española” Rosario! She is so amazing! She is very kind and outgoing and was so excited to meet us! Rosario is also a phenomenal cook and loves her kitchen. Rosario also likes to talk a lot-which is awesome- because there are a lot of opportunities to practice my Spanish. It is a completely different experience than my first host and am so happy that Rosario will be my “mom” for the next 3 months!