Homestay Happiness: Paella with my “homies”

I’ve been living with my host Señora for almost two weeks now and man do I have a story to tell. First, on the day all the CIEE participants left the hotel for their homestays, there is a process where all the families gather in the lobby of the hotel and all the auxiliars wait with their bags packed in the lobby for their host family to be pointed out. Begin controversy. My name is called and I am matched with a short Spanish woman who is obviously a little matured in age but very vibrant in spirit. She literally ran up to me, grabbed me in a strong embrace, and kissed both of my cheeks while keeping a strong grip on my shoulders. I could feel her energy transfer through our nonverbal communication (because lord knows my Spanish is terrible). And then, the program leaders said, “Ooops, mistake, you aren’t with her, you are with this lady over here!” So, I hugged my new host and carted my four large bags outside where we waited for a taxi. And then the program leaders said, “Ooops, you are actually with the first lady.” AGAIN, she hugged me and with the biggest smile helped me load my things into the car. Controversy part 2: although only 25, I apparently had stressed my back after a week in a hotel and threw my back out while loading my HUGE suitcase into the taxi. The entire taxi ride I sat stiff as a board and groaned at every bump and acceleration. Thankfully my roommate was able to help me move my luggage into my room and begin the settling process.

The settling process is so very difficult. I have been staying in a stranger’s home where I do not speak the language and I am not sure of the rules. In my U.S. home you don’t where shoes on the couch, you eat your food in whichever room you would like, and you use a new towel every time you shower. These are the rules I learned over the course of my lifetime. Home is the place that makes sense in your heart and is comfortable. Even with the love I have been given in my homestay, being without a home is an unnerving feeling.

The good news is, Palmira is the tits(Sorry if that is offensive, and it translates directly in my



My nights revolve around dinner, but until school starts on October 1st, my days have been relatively free outside of three hours of Spanish class. I have enjoyed my daily 45-minute walk from school to my homestay to actually realize that I am here. The beauty of this place cannot be understated but also the fact that I am able to live this life and move across the world. I am so beyond thankful and grateful to be able to experience beauty and joy every single day. My last post featured a picture of the Museo Del Prado with a sign that read “Refugees Welcome.” If you haven’t followed global news recently, Europe has recently experienced a surge of refugees from various war torn and troubled countries seeking a better life. I won’t elaborate on my views on the refugee crises in this post, but amidst all of the traumatized lives and the ones that have been lost in the struggle, I am humbled to be here trying to live a more beautiful and fulfilled life with each passing day. In the past two weeks I have thrown my back out, shattered my phone to an almost unreadable state, shed a few tears over the apartment search, and struggled with a few loneliness moments and personal adjustments. I am working on getting settled in Madrid—finding new friends, hobbies, work, but until all of that settles, my heart is happy and my soul is full because I have been gifted this life and I do not plan on taking it for granted.

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