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Gap Year Abroad

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My Sevillano Family

One of the hardest things about the weeks leading up to my flight to Spain was that I did not know who my host family would be and where in the city I would live. We filled out a survey when we applied explaining what we preferred and then our coordinator placed us with a Sevillano family.

 I got really lucky. I have the most understanding, kind, crazy, wonderful family I could have hoped for. When I got the email that I was living with Maria Eugenia, Jesus and Maria Eugenia(8) I was ecstatic. I began thinking back to when I was eight, trying to think of the perfect gifts for my new little sister. It was hard because despite knowing her name and age, I knew nothing about my new family until the day I arrived.

The way I was introduced to my family was quite interesting. I took a taxi to the address and my host mom was waiting for me on the street. “Estás Reilly?” I remember her saying; only no one here can pronounce my name so it was more like “reelly”.

 After we got my giant suitcase up to the fifth floor apartment, I briefly met my host dad in passing as he went to pick up my host sister, Maria Eugenia. I settled in to my room a little bit. This is a picture:

When I finished my room, Jesus came home and I met the energetic bundle of joy that is my host sister. Now, what I forgot about being eight is how absolutely random and crazy you can be. Maria Eu (as we call her) is both of those things. I gave Maria Eu a miniature “American girl doll” as a gift, and some of my favorite candy, sour patch kids. They were perfect. I loved watching her face light up when I gave them to her.

The first day I was very tired and didn’t learn much about my family, but as the first week has passed I have learned a lot about them. My host mom owns a store just downstairs that sells tobacco, paints, frames and other art supplies. She and her sister trade shifts so they can also do household things. My host dad works from the house, and he is also a photographer for Google Startup. He painted most of the artwork in the house and there are tons of photos on the walls of Maria Eugenia and Maria Eu that he took as well. It must be a coincidence that I love art and taking pictures. We will have a lot to talk about in the future!


The first morning my host family got up and left the house before I was awake. I went into the kitchen and found this:

 My host dad was so kind! I had even forgotten that I told him I couldn’t drink milk. I ended up having bread with butter and sugar and a glass of soymilk. It was wonderful!


Another thing that is really awesome about my host family is how much they cook. I’ve tried so many new things; Gazpacho, Paella, Caballa (mackerel), Tortillas de patas, and many other dishes. Both my host dad and mom cook. Jesus is from Valencia, so his paella is the best thing I have ever eaten. I have most of my conversations with my family over meals, so they are very important. I listen a lot when they talk, and Maria Eu talks to me all of the time. She puts on quite the show at the table. 

 Maria Eu, I have decided, is worth the craziness.  She talks about the most random topics, which is really really good for my vocabulary. I’ve learned that the word for bugs is “bichos” and that the word for puzzles is “rompecabezas.” We had a conversation about her sleepwalking turtle and about cooking pigeons at the park so now I know that to sleepwalk is “ser sonámbulo” and pigeons are “palomas.” Despite how much I can pick up on, there are some instances where I can’t follow her thoughts at all. One time she said a whole story and then turned to her mom and said “no entiende un pata” which means, “she doesn’t understand a potato.” I think it’s an idiom that she just made up on the spot, but it was hilarious. 

I also got the opportunity to go rollerblading, “patinar,” for the first time in my life. I wore so much padding: elbows, knees, and even hand/wrist guards. I was not about to get scratched up in my first week. Luckily, I didn’t fall! I had an awesome time racing against Maria Eu, but I always lost because she ended the race whenever she was ahead of me. (:


This is my host sister and me rollerblading at Parque Maria Luisa. I live only about 10minutes walking distance from this beautiful park! 



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