Friday, March 25, 2011


By: Alicia Fowler
Augsburg College
            This has been a busy week for us students as we have started to transition ourselves from living among one another in Casa CEMAL and Verde to living with our familias Mexicanas (Mexican families). Before the move students expressed a variety of emotions but, I’m glad to say after one week we are feeling happy, welcomed, and comfortable in our new environments. I am excited to hear about all of the wonderful stories which will be brought back to Casa Verde and CEMAL upon everyone’s return.
            For many of us doing homestays are new experiences. The homestay experience provides us with an opportunity to live with a Mexican family for a month. During this month we will continue to learn more about the Mexican culture and all of the beautiful aspects it has to offer. This experience is also a way for us to challenge ourselves to put aside our way of life and let others introduce a different way of life to us.
            Personally I was feeling very overwhelmed and nervous about doing a home stay because I am in the beginning stages of learning Spanish and was concerned about language being a barrier of me getting to know my family. Although, I have only been living with my new family for a little over a week all my fears and doubts about this homestay are gone. I have learned so much about my family in the small amount of time that we have spent together. I have been able to use and practice my Spanish daily and I can already see improvement and increased confidence. My family is doing a wonderful job of helping me learn and better understand the Spanish language. They are very understanding of where I am at and take the time to explain things to me without making me feel like a burden to them. I am falling in love with speaking Spanish and it saddens me that this experience is a temporary one. I can’t express enough how valuable and important I know this home stay will be and has been thus far.
Students who have done homestays before have always said that those experiences in the homestay were most memorable to them and I understand why now. When I return back to Minnesota I can’t wait to encourage others to study abroad and take advantage of the wonderful programs their Colleges and Universities have to offer. Experiential learning is such a beautiful way to learn and gain new insight about a different culture and those different from ourselves.
To those with fears and doubts about studying abroad I would ask, “What is really holding you back?” We are given once in a lifetime experiences and they don’t last forever. There will be a day when you go back to your home community and are welcomed home by friends and family. You will go back to work, school and the same old routine you once left. But those memories abroad will stay with you forever, and will forever have impact on your future and how you view life.


  1. Hello,
    Thanks for the post. It is very encouraging to students and it will bring less fears to those who wants to go to Mexico. In a way, it made me wanting to come Mexico and have the same experinces as you did. Also, people might be a bit scare of a new environment such as having a new family and trying to learn new things. I hope you'll learn more from your family in Mexico.

    SWK 280
    See Thao

  2. Hello Alicia,
    I am happy to hear that you and everyone else is having a great and safe time. While reading your post it was interesting to read about the "homestays". I would be very nervous myself, going into some other families house and living with them. Not fully being able to understand or communicate with them at all times. I am happy to hear that you are getting use to your new family. It's crazy how much we can learn by being put into a situation and not only observe but live in a way we are not use to. How fast we mold ourselves to fit in, or I should say to understand someone else's way of life.
    I am happy to hear that your enjoying your time and using your Spanish. I hope all is well with you and everyone else.

    Amber Weissinger

  3. Alicia,
    I am so happy to hear that you are doing well and all of your initial fears have given way to this new sense of confidence. I am so excited to hear all of your stories. It is great that you are encouraging others to be brave and walk through their fears just as you have.

  4. I love how you are open to allowing others to “introduce you to a different way of life” (as you say). Many of us become so used to our lives and what we need to accomplish in the here and now that we forget there is more out in the world. One thing I have been taught at my internship here in MN is that it is important to take time out of your day to have moments with your clients.

    This has been a learning experience for me because I always have a to do list to get accomplished. But I have found that I need to slow down my pace and take time to listen to client’s concerns/reflections/experiences. (Whatever they want to share with me.) I never know what they are going to teach me. It sounds like you are having a similar experience to this except for a longer period of time in your home stay. It is great how you have the opportunity to learn so much about another’s culture and are welcomed to live in their home.

    I can’t wait to hear more when you're back!
    Abbie Vander Maten

  5. Alicia!!
    ahh I cant wait to hear about all of your experiences when you get back. I dont think there is any experience like living with a family. You can have all the book smarts you want but the real learning comes from experience and interactions with the families themselves. Peoples true sides really come out once you spend some time in their home. I am so proud of you for learning Spanish and going on this abroad trip! I cant wait to hear about it!

    Melanie Wigen

  6. I can't wait to hear about your home stay experiences in person. I bet the work and effort to speak your house families language is appreciated. I'm sure that they enjoyed learning about your culture just as much as you enjoyed theirs. Going to another country with the language barrier is really intimidating, I can assume you had many questions going through your head about how you and your family might communicate and if your cultural experiences and practices were going to mesh with theirs. I'm sure "terminating" the relationship with what has now become your family will be a difficult one. Sounds like an experience of a life time and one that you will never forget!

    Britni Bourlard

  7. Wow it sounds like you guys are really settling in. I very happy that you guys are getting that home-stay experience. I've done it before in Australia and it was great. I definitely agree that it is very memorable. People are so nice and helpful when you think about. I always miss my families during these home-stays. I can understand why you would be nervous if you are not fluent in the language but I'm sure you'll do fine. I'm very excited for you guys and hope you enjoy your stay there with your family.