Living in a Homestay was the Highlight of my Abroad Experience
Emma, Spring 2024, Barcelona
April 16, 2024

My host mom and I during my birthday dinner

I’ve known that I’ve wanted to study abroad in Spain since I first started studying Spanish in 6th grade. I’ve always loved learning about Spanish culture, so when it was time to make a housing decision for my semester abroad, I knew that staying in a homestay was the perfect way for me to gain a deeper connection to the city and local culture while also improving my Spanish skills in a real-life setting. But I never could’ve expected the amazing relationship I’ve had with my host mom!

Throughout my 10 years of Spanish classes, my teachers shared heartwarming stories about their host families during their time abroad and it inspired me to stay with a host family. I knew I wanted to have the most authentic experience as possible and I loved the idea of creating a lifelong connection with a family in Spain. 

Even still, I had no idea how fulfilling staying in a homestay truly is until I moved to Barcelona. That’s not to say that I wasn’t scared at first. It’s intimidating to move into a family’s home halfway across the world but it has been the most rewarding part of my experience here. 

Luckily I have my own room in the apartment, so having my own private space also helped me transition to life here. It’s just my host mom, my roommate (another SAI student) and I in the apartment, so it has also been so nice to share this experience with someone else in my program.

Came home on my 21st birthday to such a sweet surprise from my host mom!

Every host family is different, but I got so lucky with my host mom. She is one of the most kind, understanding, and caring people I’ve met. She made my adjustment to life abroad so seamless with her insider tips on the city and culture. I’ve loved hearing her stories from someone who has lived in Barcelona her whole life! She is so patient and understanding as I try to speak Spanish and she is always eager to help me in any way possible. 

My host mom has truly made Barcelona feel like a second home. I was nervous about spending my 21st birthday so far away from home, but she went above and beyond to make me feel special by surprising me with gifts, balloons, and my favorite dinner. 

My favorite meal here: shrimp and salmon! I’m so lucky that I get to eat so much fresh Mediterranean seafood here!!

It also feels so good to come home to a smiling face and a nice meal after a weekend of traveling! My host mom is an incredible cook and I’ve been able to try so many Spanish dishes thanks to her amazing dinners! She provides breakfast and dinner every day! She is truly the sweetest, she knows my favorite dinner is shrimp with salmon so she always makes this meal when I come home from traveling or for special occasions. 

For me, staying in a homestay was also the most authentic and affordable way to experience life in Barcelona. My abroad experience wouldn’t be the same without my host mom, she has made me feel so at home. I’ll always associate my time in Barcelona with her kindness. Choosing to stay in a homestay was the best decision!

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

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