Monday, January 28, 2013

Meeting My Host Family is a Lovely Roller Coaster

Months before my study abroad program, living in a home exchange sounded really cool and cultural of me. I wasn't nervous at all, because I was confident in my extroverted personality. All the legit kids did study abroad. Dorms are for  da n3wbs!

Two weeks before coming to Spain, I started to wonder if maybe my horrible language abilities would make things awkward. But I was too lazy to put too much thought into it. I was also too busy trying to learn important phrases in Turkish/Greek/Italian/French.

When I finally arrived in Cordoba, I found out that we would be meeting our families in less than 24 hours....that's when I began to actually worry.

From the moment I landed in Cordoba until the official meeting point, it was like that uphill portion of the roller coaster. The build up before the big drop; it's the part I hate the most about roller coasters. (By the way, I hate all roller coasters). With each hour, the nauseating feeling got worse. Except even the build-up wasn't enough. In fact, it felt more like we were being thrown into a pool as babies without floaties on. None of us know how to swim!! (speak spanish!!!!) It was like,

 Hi! Welcome to Cordoba! You will meet your host family and start living in a Spanish speaking household and embarking on an experience unlike anything you've ever faced before in less than 16 hours! Gooood luck!!!!!!

I was [bleep-ing] terrified.

Well, push came to shove, and now I'm on the downhill part of that roller coaster. It's weird how small that precious moment is between...being an American tourist visiting Europe, and an American student living with a Spanish family for the next four months.

Now lets revisit the fact that I absolutely hate roller coasters.

Even for a person as extroverted as me, yes, this is definitely a challenging new experience. The effort it takes to speak a nonnative language is pretty exhausting. Let alone doing it nonstop. Luckily, when I was unceremoniously dropped into the pool, my host madre caught me with her patient speaking and extremely kind personality (will write more about my family later). But my extreme lack of confidence/lingual skill made me feel like I was walking on a tight rope 100 feet in the air with no net below me. I was in a terrified free-fall. At that point though, do you really have any other choice but to just make it work? So I pushed myself to ask questions. Make conversation. Force the awkward, broken words of spanish out into the open space between us. And to each my madre still responded with that same smile and understanding, as if I was actually speaking a real, coherent language (ha). I can feel myself slowly melt into a more comfortable state as the day continues on. It's only possible though because my family is so kind and open with me, not in a babying way, but in a very natural way that is genuine. It's exactly what I need to get me to slowly raise my hands in the air and enjoy the roller coaster ride. I'm getting there.

1 comment:

  1. You will get there in no time, I'm sure! Be confident! and 加油!