Jasmine Garcia is a sophomore studying public relations at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She is currently in Spain for winter quarter. Follow her on Twitter: @JasmineRGarcia
Living with a new family for an extended period of time can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to help ease the process of adapting to life in another country while abroad.
Communicate. If you are studying to learn a language, you are not going to learn by sitting in silence. If you have a question, just ask your host parent. The whole reason they signed up to be a host family is to help you. The best way to learn is to make an attempt to talk and be corrected. Your host family can’t help you communicate if they don’t know what you have problems with.
During meals, my mama would give me little vocabulary tests about objects in the kitchen to help me learn words. It was a fun way to learn some Spanish and spend time with her.(Re-enactment)
Rules. Just like at home, it’s their house so you have to play by their rules. In Spain, they conserve a lot of energy by turning off lights as soon as they leave a room and taking short showers. Be mindful of this and make an effort to use less energy. Your host family will definitely appreciate it, and I know I feel like I’m making a little bit of a difference.
Try all the food they give you. Even if something looks questionable, at least give it a try. If you don’t like it, it’s a good story to tell later. If you are a vegetarian or don’t eat certain types of food, whip out that English to Spanish dictionary and let them know. If you don’t tell them, they will continue to make food for you that you may not like.
Help out. Even though it may seem like you are on vacation, your host family is not your maid. Offer to help clean up after a meal, help with the laundry or just general house cleaning. Don’t leave things lying around the house and clean up after yourself.
They are people too. Even though they may not speak the same language as you, they are still people. Don’t treat them as inferior just because they do not know English and the customs of the United States. If you give them a chance, they may want to learn about the United States just as much as you want to learn about the country you are traveling too.
My host mom and I 🙂