The idea of hosting a student in your home always seemed strange to me. It goes against the American idea of the home. Unlike most of the world, the typical American house is only home a single generation, and the children are only there until they are 18. Most other societies live with three or four generations in the same household. In America, we tend to have older generations living by themselves in retirement homes.
I couldn’t understand what type of family would open their home up to me for four months. Would they be ultra-low earners and taking me on for the money? Would they have kids? Would they be taking me on because I speak English?
Since I have gotten to know my host family and heard stories about other host families, I have realized that the proposition of taking on a host student is much more honest than I previously thought. Maybe some of the host families do host students because it helps ease economic strain, or to practice their English. But, their motivations have no negative effect on the housing, care and love that you receive from these families. Perhaps my host family has taken me on because the mother struggles to find consistent work, but I would not know that if it hadn’t come up in conversation. The apartment is adequate, the bathroom is recently remodeled, I get plenty of food and she has never seemed overly concerned about money. I think the real reason families host students is not for the money or the service we might provide, but as a way to keep their lives interesting and to hear about our lives and our country. I think it is a way a traveling when you don’t have the time or money to leave home. The host families get to meet and form bonds with students from literally all over the world.
I probably wouldn’t have such an optimistic view of host families if my relationship with my host family had not worked out so well. My host mother is a caring mother with a great sense of humor and the ability to never taking anything too seriously. While it has never happened to me, my host mother and her daughter often get into animated disagreements, but I have never seen someone go from shouting match to affectionate so quickly.
When I leave Seville, as much as I will miss the amazing sights and sounds of this city, I will miss my host family. I will miss the jokes and misunderstandings that have left us laughing. I will miss how comfortable I feel around these people after knowing them for such a short period of time. If you ever find yourself lost and helpless in Seville, make your way to Los Remedios and ask for Carmen, she is a saint and would undoubtedly get you back on your feet.