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Reflections on a Spanish Homestay

My time in Spain was like none other. Every day was a brilliant collage of new and exciting experiences. 

My host family was very accommodating and had no problems being generous with their time. Both of them had occupations in the medical field, which are very stressful jobs, but they still managed to make time for us to get to know each other. The mother, Pilar, was a nurse and an aesthetic surgeon all at once! She was highly expressive and lovable. I loved laughing with her and trying to teach her how to pronounce English words. I even went to Zumba with her twice and tried Body Combat for the first time! She was great company and always had a warm, gummy smile and a crinkled nose that could light up the whole world. I visited her resident hospital at one point because her son, Manel, had what seemed like an infected finger and Pilar wanted to nip it in the bud. I was not surprised to find that all of her coworkers were infatuated with her positive energy and contagious kindness. It was awesome to see her in her stomping grounds, ordering consultations and drawing blood like a maniac. I can only imagine the butt she kicks during surgery!  My host father was a heart surgeon. He had a modest air of dependability and intelligence about him. Practicing his English with me was his favorite thing to do. At one point I had to tell him to lay off (nicely, of course) so that I could have an opportunity to practice my Spanish! His knowledge about art, culture, and history was endless and he was a bottomless pit of colloquial sayings. The son, Manel, was really a special guy. He was charming like his mom and intelligent like his dad. Some of his favorite pastimes included cooking and magic. We spent the majority of our time together, meeting up with his friends and neighbors or visiting the historic center of Alcal√°. 

One of the experiences that left a lasting impression on me were the mornings I spent out on the terrace with their West Highland White Terrier, Coco. He would curl up in the sun on the terracotta tiles, harnessing the sun’s energy while I sat at the table reading and eating breakfast. This was the time I took alone to reflect about my stay while consuming some seriously delicious magdalenas with milk. The book I bought was one about astrology in Spanish. I would challenge myself to understand the vocabulary and use some of the words I’d learned in conversations later that day. Astrology ended up being a really incredible tool for connecting with new people. Whenever I went to new pools around the city, I would bring the book as a conversation starter. I have since finished the book and think I learned over 100 new words. 

Overall, Spain is an experience I will hold on to until the day I return. I hope that these experiences I was lucky enough to have will serve me well in the future and help me recognize that the world is my oyster. I found that a lot of people were appreciative of my outgoing personality and natural ability to socialize and communicate and now I am more proud of that skill and willing to wear it on my sleeve. If I want to go to college in Europe, that is definitely a possibility! I have learned to be more social and affectionate with my family and friends through the way of life in Spain.

Matthew Walsh


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