Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Stairs, Waterparks, and Spanish with my Mexican Homestay Family

After being in Mexico for three months, CGE students are finally in their one month urban home stays. Students are split up into two neighborhoods: one group of students are within walking distance of Augsburg College CGE’s campus in San Anton and the other group of students are in a neighborhood called Lopez Mateos that is about 15 minutes away. Although we are at our homestays all classes are still held at Casa Cemal and Casa Verde on the week days. Classes are scheduled in the morning so we can have the rest of the day to spend with our host families.

We have been living with our host families for two weeks now and we have another two weeks to go. It’s incredible how many relationships I have built here with my peers and also Mexicans I have met through excursions and guest speakers. But most important is the relationship I’m currently building with my host family. I’m one of the lucky ones that live by the ravine in Lopez Mateos. I will definitely remember walking up the steep hill and pyramids stairs every morning to get to the main street. Although I have to travel further than other students to get to classes and to use the internet (because my house doesn’t have internet), it is worth it.

Lopez Mateos neighborhood stairs

In my host family, I have host parents, a host sister who has a two-year-old daughter, and a host brother who’s married. The first week of living with my host family was adjusting to one another’s schedules and trying to get comfortable living with one another. But by week two, I’m more comfortable with my family and they’re comfortable with me. Even the house dog was getting used to me, she doesn’t bark at me anymore like she used to the first week. We communicate better now and although my Spanish isn’t that great, they’re helping me learn new Spanish words.  I still struggle to pronounce them and even though there are times when I just want to give up, they make sure I know that they won’t give up on me. Sometimes we have some good laughs!

During our first weekend together they invited me to their family hangout. They took me to the water park in Temixco, just south of Cuernavaca. It was a great way to spend family time with my host family and a great way to get to know them a little bit better. I’ve come to realization that every Sunday is my host family’s family time and they tend to do things together as a family. It’s amazing how much I have picked up living with my host family for just two weeks and I’m pretty sure they have learned a lot of things about me too.

Temixco water park

I know I will miss dinner time with my host sister and mother; having Sundays as family day and hearing my host niece greet me every time I walk in the door. I will also miss walking up and down the painful steps and steep hill down the ravine of Lopez Mateos. But I won’t ever forget the relationships I’ve built with many wonderful people in Mexico and especially my host family. I will miss the laughter at the dinner table because of my pronunciation of words and the cross cultural stories we tell one another. Every night at the dinner table is story time and I will miss that. But most of all I will miss how I felt like I was at home with my host family. They welcomed me with open arms and protected me.  They taught me more about the Mexican culture and taught me how to cook Mexican food.  They’ve helped me learn more Spanish words. I can't thank them enough for every experience I've had with them.

-- Jaia Chang


  1. Nice post Jaia! you nailed it I guess I will miss climbing the stairs just a little! its a good leg work out living with the families has been one of the most amazing things in my life

  2. I'm sure going to remember those stairs of yours too. Climbed it twice, never going to do it ever again. And the best memory of your house? When I visited and your host sister and her daughter thought I was you until they actually saw you sitting next to me instead, and made a weird expression. That still kept me laughing. But just like you said about your host family, I will miss mine too, especially during meal time where we sit for hours and hours talking about random things (and those awkward moments with nothing to say). And I am sure you know what I meant, three or so hours sitting at the dinner table, eating at 9:45 p.m. when you came to visit my house, and you could not believe how late we eat and stayed at the dinner table afterward. But it's just more great memory, right? But anyway, that got way off track.....nice post, I enjoy reading it.

  3. "welcomed me with open arms and protected me...." = what a wonderful illustration of the educational experience the people at CGE, Cuernavaca, and Mexico have provided -- thanks so much for sharing it Jaia! As a lover of steps, I enjoyed vicariously climbing up them in the photo, too -- when I was in Cuernavaca briefly in the early 1990s, I would go out of my way to find steps to climb -- though I might feel differently if I had to climb them several times a day, carrying bags or kids!


  4. Jaia I completely agree on the fact that they welcomed us with open arms. My host family also made me feel like I was part of their family all the time. It is nice to know that they consider you as part of their own family and make you feel as welcome as possible. I know for sure my host mom and host grandma made me feel like a real daughter/granddaughter to both of them. It is so nice to know that I will not see them, but I hope I will come back to Cuernavaca and visit them. I thank my host family very much for making me as comfortable as possible because I was a little scared going into the home stays. Yet, now I know that I have a family to come back to anytime I am in Cuernavaca. I really appreciated their love and kindness to me, and I bet we all felt the same way :).