After spending six weeks in the small town of Oviedo, Spain this summer, I can honestly say how much I have learned and gained from this experience. It was probably one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had and it helped me grow tremendously as an individual. That being said, I had a hard time committing to this study abroad. I was beyond nervous about living with a host family, trying new food, the classes I would be taking and being in a completely new surrounding. Through my experiences, my host family and the many friendships I made, I now know that I made the right decision to study abroad. It was an unforgettable experience that I will be talking about for the rest of my life.
My Host Family
This was the single most nerve-racking aspect of the entire study abroad experience for me. The idea of sleeping in someone else’s home (who very likely doesn’t speak English) seemed absurd. However, my host family was absolutely amazing and what they offered me through the authentic Spanish culture, food, daily life and hospitality was irreplaceable. I had a host mom and a host dad, as well as an eight-year-old host brother. They were very welcoming and wanted to learn as much about me and where I come from as I did about Spain and the Spanish language. My host mom cooked excellent food and always gave me more than enough food. She also took me to the spa! I have to say that living with a host family was a very rewarding experience that I could not have gotten if I had lived in a student housing situation.
This is something I wanted to share because it was my biggest question before I headed to Spain. What will I actually be doing there? Well, in my program we had class for a few hours each day. After class we would return home for a meal and siesta with our new Spanish families. Then the rest of the day was ours. We would frequently visit the mall, the beach, a museum or just walk around the old part of town. By the end of two or three weeks, I felt very comfortable with the town of Oviedo. I really miss those afternoons in Spain.
When I boarded the plane from the United States to Spain I did not know very much Spanish. I was so nervous about being able to communicate. Although it was difficult, I progressed more with my Spanish abilities in six weeks than I ever thought possible. By the time I left Oviedo I felt comfortable speaking Spanish with a native speaker. I felt confident and finally felt like becoming fluent in a second language was something I could achieve.
Overall, I had an amazing study abroad experience. It opened my eyes to a whole different culture and way of living. I learned so much about the Spanish language, the culture of Spain, the history of Europe and most of all, myself. I can’t wait for the day I get to go back and visit again!