Anna Perminova, Year 13 student, Caxton College
I want to tell you about my experience of living quite a long time with a host family abroad. I should mention that before I had no idea how to speak in Spanish, and how I was going to survive in this country without even knowing the bases of the language! Luckily, my parents found for me an amazing host family (who didn’t understand English by the way).
It all started on a lovely Sunday, when my mum told me that I should move to a new family (here I got a kind of a heart attack) to learn Spanish language and culture from the inside. Well, that was quite the obvious choice after receiving my Spanish term grade. But then, I got to thinking about it a little bit more. I liked my independence quite a lot. I didn’t want anyone, especially complete strangers, to get into my personal space. I get used to dance like mad to Miley Cyrus songs and watch Russian TV programs at full volume. Moreover, remember, my knowledge of Spanish was little less than nothing. So my first reaction was just – GOD, NO.
However, my opinion wasn’t a priority and soon enough I found myself in a completely unfamiliar world with strange people who I didn’t understand. And the game started. I was even thinking about making up an allergy to those 4 dogs that they had. The culture, traditions, way of life were completely different from my own. Later, when I started to recognize Spanish speech, I understood that my host parents weren’t arguing – they were just discussing the menu for dinner. Wow. Imagine how that sounded to me before…
Sounds scary, right? Not at all. Living with a host family means getting very familiar with each other and spending time in each other’s personal space. You can’t stay apathetic if they try to care about you and surround you with love. That was exactly my situation. I tried to hold the distance between us at first. However, as time passed, I started to know them well and got the ability to talk with them, have fun and feel myself as a part of their family. My host mother still tells me that I have two mothers now – Russian and Spanish. Isn’t that cool?
Even though I got quite comfortable after a couple of weeks, I still had some mistrust towards them. It probably was a part of the Russian mentality. However, the day came when I got ill. Honestly, I never thought that someone except my parents or close friends would care about me that much. From that day on, I really felt that I was a member of the family. I would joke at dinner, spend hours just sitting and talking to my host parents, and watch TV and play games with the dogs. I have never felt so welcomed and comfortable in a situation before.
If you are as lucky as I was to have stumbled upon a warm, welcoming, and fun host family with adult children around my own age, you’ll find that it is very easy to fall into a routine. My host sister was quite a lot older than me; we had nearly 5 years between us. I was ashamed to talk with her because I thought that my Spanish was too bad for having a conversation. So I spent nearly a month, missing out on the opportunity to practice. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes or saying something goofy. ¡Abre la boca!
Despite all the initial shyness and cultural differences, I fell in love with my host parents. I bawled my eyes out when the time came to say goodbye. We both literally couldn’t let each other go.
They’re my second family now! How lucky am I?