Why hello there!
On May 24th I left Barcelona to travel south the coast of Spain to Alicante, where I was to be placed with a host family for my time there. Come along and join me on the East side beach shore for this memory!
Today is the day that I get to meet my host family! Only a 6 hour bus ride down the coast of Spain, and then I will see the family I will be taken in by and cared by for the next week! I initially felt very excited throughout the bus ride, but the minute the bus pulled into the meeting location all the students and me began to feel nervous and start to question our appearance and smells (we were on a bus for 6 hours after all, many of us had bed-hair from sleeping on the chairs, and the breath of potato chips and coffee). I actually was so nervous, that I stayed on the bus for several minutes scanning the faces of the families on the ground trying to figure out who would be my mine for the next week. I eventually mustered up the courage and was the last person to exit the bus.
I waited on the side quietly, trying to ignore my nervousness by focusing on the comforting heat of the day, and the way the sun was shining through the windows of the apartment buildings that were resting atop the shops of small cafe’s, restaurants, and markets. It was during this focus time, that I also realized that it was about 80 something degrees Fahrenheit and I was wearing a long-sleeved turtleneck. Hello there self-consciousness….. It was seconds after this wardrobe awareness that I was tapped on the shoulder by my professor and was introduced to my new Spanish mother. Two customary greeting cheek kisses were done, and next thing I knew we were walking down the streets of Alicante towards my new home, away from all the people I knew. While I probably should have felt nervous about this, I was now starting to feel excited and comfortable, besides my rising body temperature, and faucet like perspiration due to my out of place turtleneck sweater wearing outfit choice in the middle of a Spanish cost-side summer (but we’re just going to overlook this little tidbit, and focus on my excitement).
While we walked and talked, I began to feel extremely grateful for the Spanish I knew. While I admit my speaking ability is broken, I am able to understand about 98% of everything said to me.
- Insider’s Background Context Tidbit: My family is Cuban which is why I “know” the Spanish language, but to make a long-story short… While I learned Spanish and English as my first languages growing up, for various reasons my parents stopped speaking Spanish to me which is the reason why I have a hard time speaking Spanish, but am able to understand and read it.
While there was definitely times that I needed to pull out my Spanish Dictionary app and translate my lengthy paragraphs of replies to her, for the most part our conversations were made with ease. We walked for about 15 minutes until we reached a corner street we turned on… and then I saw.. I saw the beach… My host mother lived on the beach in Spain. I was going to live on the beach in Spain *insert screech of joy here*.
After entering her (our) home, I was introduced to my new quaint room which was graciously sized with a comfy bed with wonderfully soft blankets. I was able to finally get that wrongfully worn turtleneck off, shower, and put on some more weather appropriate attire on.
Being a Cuban in Spain, I felt like I was going to share a lot of cultural traditions and food dishes with my host family. I was feeling excited to know that I was going to be eating authentic locally cooked Spanish food, just like I always eat when I visit my parents.
Man I have to say I was surprised when she brought out a burger. I couldn’t help but hold in my laugh internally because all I could think about was how she probably heard she was going to be placed with an American student and was going to try to help make them comfortable by serving them a “traditional” American dish. We both were able to share a laugh together when she found out I was actually Cuban-American and was use to Spanish styled food! Our night was kicked off by this bonding moment, and after dinner we spent the remainder of the night watching Spain’s version of the TV show ‘Survivor’.
All in all, it was a great day getting to know my new Spanish mama and overlooking the beach while watching TV.