By: Alicia Fowler
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.