I have TWO Chilean Moms... Why? Well because everyone marches to the beat of their own drum and I wasn't exactly happy with my first homestay situation. While I did love my family, I just didn't feel at home and I wasn't happy. So with a heavy heart, a lot of guilt, some tears, and a little bit of sorrow I moved host families and couldn't have been more happier with the decision!
After living on my own for my freshman, sophomore, and junior year I was REALLY hesitant to want to live with a host family but even more overwhelmed with the idea of trying to find my own housing in a foreign country in a different language. I remember the day I received my host families address and an information sheet about my family. Anxiety set it... um, I haven't lived with my parents for three years now - do I really want to move back in with the 'rents? What if I don't have my privacy?
All of those questions raced though my mind and I seriously considered withdrawing from my agreement to live with a host family and trying to find housing on my own. I ended up sticking with my decision and moved in with my family in August and I'm so happy I did!
I know what you're thinking, she changed host families, how could she have been happy with the decision? I didn't change because my family wasn't welcoming or hospitable but more because I just wasn't comfortable living where I did, so close to the street and the morning traffic of horns blaring at the stream of one car in front of the other.
I also didn't like the fact my host mom worked an insane amount of hours, leaving me home alone a lot and eating at odd hours of the day and night. I expressed my concerns and unhappiness with our CEA program director and she immediately helped me change host families. While it was heartbreaking to say goodbye to my mom and host sister, I was SO much happier at my new house and my new living conditions. I had a roommate who spoke English, which something I missed was having roommates, and a new mom AND host dad! I was thrilled!
I ended up LOVING living with a host family. It gives you not only gives you the opportunity to practice and learn Spanish but it also forces you to. I admit, it was a little aggravating at times coming home, exhausted from school and having to constantly think and communicate in a different language but I wouldn't have traded having Anita, my host mom for anyone. It's heartwarming, while at the same time annoying, having someone ALWAYS ask you if you have your keys and to be careful when you go out!
My point is that if your having any doubts about freedom and living with a host family to not worry. My host mom explained to me she's had a ballpark number of around 50 host students all whom have took part in cultural things and not so cultural things... she even told us numerous stories of former host students! Living with a host family is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and has made me appreciate my parents so much more than I once did. I will forever have a friend and a Mom in Chile and it will break my heart to say goodbye to her in the upcoming days remaining in my study abroad.
¡Salud! Danielle Banks is the Fall 2013 CEA MOJO in Viña Del Mar, Chile. She is currently a senior at Texas AM University.
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