For the first two weeks of my study abroad program, everyone was placed with a host family. I live with a rather nice Spanish family in a small apartment in the northern part of the city. I share a room with another girl in my program, Kelly.
My host mother is Montserrat, a sweet woman in her fifties who wears a different pair of pajama pants every day of the week. She’s convinced that I am Jewish and insists that all Polish people are. I tried to explain that 90% of Polish people are Roman Catholics. She then asked if I was sure that I wasn’t Jewish.
Montserrat’s son, Hans, eats dinner with Kelly and I every night so that we can practice our Spanish. Hans may be the only 15 year old boy who has ever disliked me. I think it’s because I always ask him if he can take us to the skate park with him to hang with the cool kids. But, I think I’m slowly growing on him.
Living here is very humbling. The water in the bathrooms is always cold, Kelly and I share a room the size of a broom closet and dinner is essentially peasant food: pasta or potatoes. I like to think of it as Sparta, but without a half naked Gerard Butler.
I think what bothers me the most is that I was expecting to be part of a family. However, Montserrat always has students in and out of the apartment as a form of income. Kelly and I are treated a bit like hostel guests: we have to buy our own water and we can’t shower for more than ten minutes. That basically means that I have to choose between washing my hair or shaving my legs and the struggle is very real.