This week I moved into my homestay in Valencia and I met my host family! I am staying with a couple named Jesus and Loyola. They are so sweet, so accommodating, and we get along so well! I am very happy with my location because it is less than a five minute walk away from the school. My homestay is an apartment-style home with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchen/dining area. I have my own room and it is so adorable!
Jesus and Loyola do not speak English so I am only able to communicate with them in Spanish. At first, I was nervous to speak as I worried I would say something incorrectly or not know how to say something. Although there are times that I do use incorrect grammar or I forget how to say a certain word, my host family is so understanding and patient in order to understand me and make sure that I understand them. I work hard to convey what I am trying to say, even if that includes describing what I’m trying to say with other Spanish words that I know, using hand gestures to paint a picture, or pulling out my English to Spanish translator when necessary. They tell me frequently that I speak in Spanish very well so I feel confident that my communication-skills have been improving during my time in Spain. I speak in Spanish so often now that I find myself sometimes thinking and dreaming in Spanish as well. Living with them has given me confidence in my Spanish-speaking abilities and has enabled me to learn new words and phrases as we talk with each other about different topics like politics, pop culture, and traveling.
Something that I was not expecting was living in a homestay without another student. Most of the students in my program were paired up with another student to be roommates, however, a few other students and myself were not given roommates. The homestay assignments were based off of living preferences but I could not control whether or not I was living alone or with a roommate. At first, I felt disheartened knowing that I would not have a roommate because I had hoped to have a go-to person to explore the city with, walk to class with, and help me navigate living in a foreign country. However, I believe that I have made the best out of my situation because living on my own in an unknown country has allowed me to grow my independence and self-reliance. I have had to solve problems on my own such as finding my way around the city, communicating with my host family in Spanish, and discovering the best activities to do in Valencia. I have also made a strong effort to reach out to other students so that I do have someone to hang out with or walk with if I am planning to go somewhere. Everyone has been so nice and many of the students often invite me to walk with them or even walk me home when it is late at night. I am proud that I have been able to be self-sufficient and make the best out of a situation that I thought would put a damper on my trip.
I spent the first week of my program exploring popular cities such as Madrid and Toledo, but I have to say that Valencia has been my favorite city so far. Valencia is a very tranquil city right on the beach and although it is serene, everyone here also knows how to have a good time. I have learned so much about the culture here and have pushed myself to be fully immersed and to try new things. Check out my blog post next week as I will be sharing my experiences with the culture of Valencia such as the food, the customs, and the language. I will leave you with some beautiful Valencian sights!