I have been staying with a Spanish family while in Madrid. Maria and Chicho are my Spanish parents, Jacki (from the USA) is my sister in Spain, and occasionally I see one of Maria and Chicho’s two children, Linbel.
Maria is a huge ball of fun. She is always full of energy, loves conversation, and is an amazing cook! She has such a big heart, which is why I felt so horrible that day that I didn’t come home until 4am without giving her any hint as to my whereabouts. I’m not used to having someone wait up and worry about me anymore. It is nice, though, and I’ll be sure to not worry that big heart of hers again. I could say so much more about Maria but she really is one of those people you just have to know to understand how amazing she is.
Chicho is a cool, calm dude. He used to play football (soccer), first in Argentina and then in Madrid. While I usually have trouble understanding his Spanish (the Argentinian accent maybe?), I enjoy his laid-back humor and observations on life. He is very welcoming (today he made sure I understood that “mi casa es su casa”) and tries to help me learn when he can. I want to have a conversation with him when I speak Spanish with better fluency.
Maria and Chicho have two children: a daughter who works for a cosmetics company in another city (she’s a certified nurse but nursing jobs are scarce in Spain), and a son who shows up at unexpected hours (the first time I met him, he arrived after midnight) and walks around shirtless. The latter is quite a distraction given his fairly attractive figure. Nonetheless, he’s a nice guy to have around occasionally. I’m sure he’ll be happy to have his bed back when I leave.
Jacki (my Spain sister) is another student who is staying with Maria and Chicho. She arrived the week before me and is staying much longer. I love her attitude towards and curiosity about life. She always has such a fun and contagious energy. From the first day, she welcomed me with her amazing group of friends and I’ve come to know her and some of them as my own friends. Jacki is a studious, hard-working student, as is evident by her choice to study medicine (an additional SIX years to her current bachelor degree). I respect that, while she’s so passionate about medicine and her life at home, she is able to explore this culture with ambition. She certainly knows how to have a good time (while she can 😉 ).
I spend my time at “home” attempting conversation and listening in on the conversations of others. Jacki speaks at a higher level than I, so I often enjoy listening in on her conversations with Maria. They’re usually pretty entertaining and every day I get a little better at being a part of the conversation.
Staying with a host family is the perfect way to learn the language and also learn about the culture, while meeting new people. I’m glad I’ve had this experience and especially glad that I was lucky enough to be placed with such amazing people.