Before I talk about my life with my host family, I feel I ought to give some sort of introduction to them so you can get to know them, too. My host family is made up of three people: my host dad, my host mom and their son. My host dad, Cesar, has worked a multitude of jobs. Given the current economic crisis in Spain, he doesn’t have a steady job right now, working only a few hours every once in a while (with what I think is cheeses and hams, but this is not confirmed, as sometimes it is hard to understand what they explain to me in Spanish). In the past, he’s fixed watches and clocks for a living and also worked in a bar as a chef/jack-of-all-trades. He’s an incredible cook and also a huge jokester. He boasted at the beginning of the semester about his phenomenal cooking, and his boasts were correct. I look forward to every meal: every one richer than the last.
My host mom, Begoña, currently works at a huge store in Spain called El Cortes Ingles. It’s one of the largest companies in Spain, and has locations all across the country. It’s similar to a Macy's or JCPenney, but a bit more upscale. She works in the perfume section, and recently went to Madrid for a work event. She is incredibly extroverted and is friends with practically everyone. Even though she often comes home tired, she absolutely adores her job and everyone she works with. Plus, she gets crazy discounts on all the stuff there. One time, she came home with shoes she got over 75% off. Pretty sweet deal, if you ask me.
Oscar, my host brother, is 23 years old and currently is studying engineering in Gijón (a nearby city). Since my host family is extremely close with Calvin’s beloved Spanish professor, Prof. TenHuisen, Oscar visited him and his family last summer for a month. After a month there, he can now speak English pretty well, and often helps me with words I don’t know. He works very hard for his grades and is constantly studying. I admire his studious nature and his serious focus on his studies.
The three of them have had practically a million students before me: around five from Calvin College and 15–20 more from other universities. It’s simultaneously daunting and wonderful to be one of many students they’ve hosted in the past. While it’s great to know that they are extremely familiar with what it means to host a student, it’s also difficult, knowing they are probably comparing me to students they’ve had in the past. “Do I talk enough?” “Am I being helpful enough?” “Am I too reclusive?” All these questions constantly run through my head. Though it’s hard, I try to remind myself not to compare myself to their past students, as each student is a different experience entirely.