Mi Familia Anfitriona (Host Family)

When looking at the various options for study abroad, I always knew I wanted to do a homestay.  However, I did not realize how pivotal this decision would be until actually being 10,000 miles from my own home and family!  Here’s a little look into my homestay in Santiago, Chile.

Mi mamá lives in an apartment in Santiago with her 30-year-old daughter.  In Chile, it is very common for young adults to live with their parents until their late 20s or early 30s!  Even universities do not have dorms or on-campus housing, so the majority of students commute to university while still living under their parents’ roofs.

The IES staff picked me up from the airport and took me directly to my host home to meet mi mamá. Within minutes of walking into the door, mi mamá insisted on taking a selfie to send to her daughter!

Host parents not only cook your meals (mi mamá happens to be an incredible cook… sorry, Phelps Dining) and do your laundry, but they are your support system and a dependable resource while abroad.  This is only my fourth night in my host home, but I can always count on a warm greeting with “un beso” on the cheek when I enter the door, a heating pad full of hot water to warm my feet at night during the cold Chilean winters, an invitation to watch a soap opera in our pajamas, and good conversation over a cup of tea or maté.

The seasons are opposite here in Chile as they are United States. Although Chilean winters are significantly milder than Michigan winters, energy is very expensive, so the majority of homes do not have central heating. Luckily, mi mamá makes my bed with 7 layers of sheets to keep me nice and cozy at night.

 

Host families are great at accommodating for your dietary preferences, but they will always introduce you to the local cuisine, too! Here is my first dinner: cazuela (a traditional Chilean stew with beef, potatoes, and other veggies), leche de almendras y ensalada. Muuuuuy rico.

As thankful as I am for the way mi mamá has welcomed me in and provided for me already, I am more thankful for the immense grace and patience she gives me!  She stays attentive in conversation as I wrack my brain for the English to Spanish translation, explains over and over how to get from our apartment to the bus stop, and is quick to forgive when I forget to unplug the space heater (again).

Here’s the kitchen where all the magic of Chilean cuisine happens! It’s a bit tight and surely nothing extravagant, but I love the coziness of our apartment!

It certainly is a transition to go from living in dorms and with friends to entering into a family’s home, but it is the only way to fully experience the warmth of South American culture!

This is not to say that I am not missing my own mom back home, but what a gift it is to have a mamá here, too!

My Weekend Homestay

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written a post. Life in Berlin is crazy busy! With classes, excursions, church, friends, babysitting and traveling, it’s hard to find time to sleep! Nonetheless, I’ve been having some really great experiences; one being a weekend home stay with a German family.

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Stephanie, Me, Zoe and my friend Chelsey : ) (the wind was really blowing)

Everyone in my program had the option to spend a weekend with a German family in Berlin to see and experience their everyday life. Living with a native family gives you a completely different experience compared to only living with students, so I knew I had to take advantage of this opportunity.

I stayed with Stephanie, an artist, and her 15 year old daughter Zoe in their flat by the East Side Gallery. As soon as we met, Zoe asked me “Sprechen sie Deutsche?” (Do you speak German?) After I admitted that my German was very basic, (I really need to do better with German) we had plenty to talk about in English and I knew we were going to have an amazing weekend. Here are the highlights!

Berlin is that you?

Stephanie and Zoe showed me so much of Berlin! I honestly felt like I was in a different city. We took a bus around the city which allowed me to see new sites and really soak all of Berlin up. I usually take the underground train and didn’t realize how much I was missing! Some of the things we did were go to a movie in English and one in German, visited a mall that was connected to the zoo where you could see monkeys while having a coffee, and went to an opera concert and an art gallery. The weekend was full of new experiences!

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The opera concert was at this beautiful church.
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The view from the double-decker bus!
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So many interesting things around the city!

Live like a Berliner

Stephanie and Zoe showed me how to appreciate Berlin. We went to an outdoor market, sampled and brought things that we enjoyed, and Stephanie even had a bouquet of flowers made for their flat. Then we explored the city while always stopping for a mid-day coffee. It was great to actually relax and enjoy myself. So often we get caught up trying to have the perfect plan or save money when we just need to simplify and enjoy life a little.

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The flowers at the market were so beautiful.
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You can’t forget the midday pick me up!

Food

Stephanie is an amazing cook! I was eating gourmet food all weekend and am sure I had a third helping at every meal.

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Stephanie was so sweet and made me a German Easter baked good 🙂

Stephanie and Zoe

Stephanie and Zoe were great hosts! They were so open sharing their life with me and showing me a good time. It was nice to have a girl’s weekend. They even invited me for Easter and we had a great day going to a photography exhibit, grabbing a mid-day coffee and cake, and eating a delicious dinner afterwards. They always made me feel so welcomed : )

I’m very glad I did the home stay weekend! It’s nice to have a host family when studying abroad so you can get that sense of a home away from home. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience and look forward to many memories to come 🙂