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Mi Casa Es Su Casa

Kristen Durbin | Sunday, October 9, 2011

TOLEDO, Spain — Though over half of Notre Dame students study abroad during some time in their four years at the University, not all of these students have the unique opportunity to live with a host family in a foreign country.

This semester, 24 of the 27 Domers studying in the historic city of Toledo in the heart of Spain, live with host families. Some students live in the “casco historico,” or old part, of Toledo. However, the majority live in a neighborhood called Poligono, a 20-minute bus ride from the center of town.

Living with host families allows students to immerse themselves in the Spanish way of life for an entire semester. As most of our families speak little to no English, we must practice speaking Spanish whenever we spend time with our families.

We also adapted quickly to some of the cultural differences between the United States and Spain, including much later meal times, lack of personal space and the occasional sea creature on the kitchen table.

Despite the cultural challenges, living with a family definitely has its perks. Students are especially lucky when their host moms find the time to be gourmet cooks while also cleaning their rooms and doing their laundry. We can certainly attest to the reality of Spanish hospitality every day.

For most of us, the best part about living with a host family is having a place to call home for four months, especially when returning from a weekend of travel or a long day of classes.

Studying abroad itself is the experience of a lifetime, but living with a host family enhances it in countless ways. See what other students and my host mom have to say about the host family experience!