A Home Away from Home

Authored by:
Jenika S.

Jenika S.

One of the first question one asks when arriving in a new country is where am I going to stay? Instantly your mind fasts forward to fancy hotels, room service, and a bell boy. A ginormous chandelier and a dining room that smells of hot eggs and sausages. hmmm...yummy ..... "WAKE UP DORTHY'" you're not in Kansas anymore! 

Housing in the CIEE program is of two forms, that is, Shared Apartments (where students live in conditions that is similar to most U.S college dorm experience)  and Homestay ( where one or two students live with a Brazilian host family). Before arriving in Brazil students are required to answer a housing survey as to where he or she would prefer to live. I chose to live with a host family to learn more about Brazilian culture and also it is ideally cheaper than to live in a shared apartment. In the homestay situation two meals are provided by the host family, they have their own laundry facilities that one can use, also any other amenities that are available at the shared apartments free of charge. Those who live in the shared apartments, on the other hand, have to obtain their own food and pay to get their laundry done. It should however, be noted that not everyone gets into a home-stay, so everyone should prepare themselves as if they are going to live in a shared apartment.  

Living in a new country among people you do not know is a bit nerve-wracking. Your mind begins to be filled with What Ifs.... What if my host doesn't like me? or what if there is always going to be that awkward moment? What if I eat meat and she is a vegan? Hold up!! CIEE matches you with a host according to your specialty, that is, if you have allergies are a vegan etc... However, that "awkward moment" is totally fixable by you and your host. Your relationship with your host is totally dependent upon you if you want a formal relationship or a more family based one. 

My host family consists of  Jussara and her eight-year-old son Kyle, also Nelly who is a student of CIEE, we all live in separate rooms. My host really considers me to be a long-lost relative and it is an amazing experience, she teaches me how to cook, make carnival costumes, how to speak Portuguese and encourages me to go out and have fun even if it is just to ride a bike. Most Brazilians are generally friendly people and my host is not an exception. Moreover, she loves to make jokes (even though I sometimes do not understand them..lol), have conversations and encourages me to talk to her about any problems I may have relating to my stay or anything personal. She really is a mom away from my mom.

I would implore everyone if they get such an opportunity to live with a host they should take it, you'll gain so much more out of this experience!!

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