Hey from Chile!
It's really strange for me to think that in one month my program here will be over. How can I have already been here for five months? Because so little time is left for me here in South America I'm feeling rather reflective about it all. One of the things I think the most about is my host family. People often ask me what it is like to live with a family. It's a weird concept right? Just move in with a bunch of complete strangers? It's even more strange because the way families are structured and the way they relate here is pretty different to in the U.S.
It was the strangest experience being taken home by my host mother and sister. We moved in with our families right at the beginning of orientation before we really knew what was going on. One day these people just showed up and drove us away to somewhere in the city where we would be living. I was incredibly nervous. It didn't help that I was extremely sick (see my first post) and that the first thing I did in my new home was throw up. But then something really cool happened. My host mother tucked me into bed and brought me a bowl of soup! She and my host sister then hung out with me for a little bit and told me the house and where I lived and things. I couldn't believe it, they were SO nice! So yes, it's strange to move in with strangers but little by little over the semester I've developed relationships with my host family. I really do feel at home here.
Having a place like this means I have a non-judgmental place to ask my dumb questions (I can't stress how important it is to be able to ask the dumb things that we gringos just don't get). More than that I'm part of this incredible cultural exchange. When I decided I wanted sushi (without paying a million bazillon pesos) my host sister came with me in search of an Asian grocery store and then we and my host mom made sushi at home! (A special thank you to all the Akin Hall members who taught me to make it!) And then my host family decided they like it so much that sometimes they make it without me being there!
A very wise LC friend of mine who is currently also studying abroad (in France) said that it's the little things that make you feel at home and make you happy. I couldn't agree more with her. It's the details that make this my temporary home. It's how when it was cold my host mom put a hot water bottle in my bed, or how my host dad calls me "Sarita". I'm going to miss them when I leave. I'll especially miss the miniature poodle named Mini. Who else basically pees themselves in happiness and tries to lick my face when I walk in the door? So, to sum it up, living with a host family can be enormously rewarding.
In the coming month I'll finish up all my classes. Before I head back to the northern hemisphere I am going to Peru with a friend on the program (which should be AWESOME). I'll keep ya'll informed! As always any questions, comments, or virtual hugs can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org