SAI’s My Local Family Program Impact
Sydney, Spring 2024, Barcelona
June 11, 2024

My mom lived in a homestay as a study abroad student in France. She marvels about how it was her most treasured experience abroad. Through the opportunity, she was able to more easily assimilate into a new atmosphere.

When I decided to study abroad, I was unable to do a homestay. After I found out about the SAI My Local Family Program, I knew I had to be a part of it.

My family and I at CosmoCaixa!

I took Spanish classes all throughout secondary and high school. Still passionate about the subject, I wanted to advance my speaking abilities abroad. I felt like I was somewhat fitting into Spanish culture, but I was excited to take my journey to the next level with a hispanic family.

SAI matched me to my family based on my interests and attributes. I am a communications major and the mother and father both work in that professional realm. Their two children are inquisitive and high energy – similar to myself.

A photo at the dinosaur exhibit in the museum.

I visited their apartment biweekly throughout the semester. We played all types of games and ate typical Spanish and Catalan dinners. We spent plenty of time joking around, and more earnestly querying our pasts and plans for the future. We delved into our extended families, upbringing, heritage, and personal beliefs. I spoke Spanish to them almost every chance I got.

In Catalunya, El Día de Sant Jordi is the region’s biggest and most significant yearly celebration. It is similar to Valentine’s Day, though celebrated in April. People exchange books and roses. My family took me into the city with them to celebrate. This day was very special to me as it’s typically celebrated with close loved ones. I truly felt like I was part of their family.

Looking at the fish at the aquarium section of the museum.

During our last visit, we took a trip to CosmoCaixa Barcelona: a science museum and one of the city’s lesser known attractions. I brought along Cassie, my highschool friend who did a semester abroad in Greece. It made me happy for her to meet my family and observe my relationship with them.

Because of my family I know I will always have my home with them in Barcelona. It has almost been a month since we last saw one another and I miss them dearly. We are planning to video chat soon.

I would highly recommend this opportunity to every student studying through SAI. There is no better way to fortify a special connection to the community as a study abroad student!

Written by: Sydney, Spring 2024 Barcelona student from University of South Carolina

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