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The Hardest Part About Living With a Host Family: Saying Goodbye

I am somebody who struggles a lot with change, and moving to Spain is a very big change. Having a host family to support me through those changes made them feel a lot less intimidating. This year, I was placed with a family of two daughters ages 7 and 12, two sons ages 9 and 17, and a mom and a dad. Meeting them was one of the scariest moments of my life; I was riddled with worries about us not getting along well or them not being happy with me. Luckily, right from the moment that I met them, I was put at ease. They were so welcoming and I could feel how happy they were to have me there. After a few weeks of assimilating, I truly became a member of the family. My host siblings and I became very close to the point where we all say that we are brothers and sisters. I grew up with two older sisters, so living with siblings was no foreign concept to me, which I feel made it easier for me to live with my host siblings. It was fun that I had a turn to be the older sister after being the youngest my whole life.

I personally made it a goal to create a unique relationship with each of my host siblings. I wanted them to feel connected and comfortable with me. This meant that most of my free time was spent playing with them or helping them with homework, not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I feel that this really helped to make our relationships strong.

My host parents did not enforce the English Saturdays rule but rather asked that I always speak in English with the two oldest kids and only Mondays and Wednesdays with the two younger kids. Towards the end of my time there, all of the kids were very eager to speak to me in English first. I do speak Castellano, and my host family was really great in helping me improve this year.

I was encouraged to come and go from the house as I pleased, and my host parents had no issues with me going out at night if I chose to. I was not expected to do any chores around the house, but I did always clean up after myself, put dishes in the dishwasher when I could, and ask if they needed help preparing dinner, etc.

I went everywhere the family did, but they always gave me the choice if I wanted to go with them or not. Before the year began, I decided I was going to say yes to everything they asked me to do with them. Looking back on this year, I cannot believe all of the amazing experiences that I had with my family because I said yes. I ran my first half marathon with my host father, I learned how to cross-country ski with my host siblings, went to Italy with my host mom, and I cooked a whole Thanksgiving dinner to celebrate with my host family and their friends. I learned so much about Spanish, and Catalan, culture through the food, the drinks, the languages, and the holidays.

The hardest part about living with a host family was saying goodbye in June. What made the goodbye easier was knowing that we will forever be family and will always stay in contact with each other. My host siblings and I already have plans for them to come and spend summers with me in the United States when they are older, and I am already counting down the days.

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