Meeting the Fam

Authored by:
Grace J.

Grace J.

After eight hours on a plane, I  was a mess, my hair was in a curly mop while left over cheese dotted my shirt. Right as we walked through the doors of the CIEE  building I rushed to the bathroom along with the other girls and frantically began to clean myself up and with the help of the sink and a change of clothes I succeeded to look somewhat presentable. Not even twenty minutes later the first host family arrived, we all watched the reunion, I could feel my nerves start to build as I began to worry, "What if they didn't like me?" I thought as another family arrived and departed, "Or what if I don't like them?" I continued as I heard the door open down the hall,  right away I noticed the familiar faces that I've only seen in pictures, it was my host family! My nerves were eased with their welcoming smiles, we greeted awkwardly as the program coordinator snapped a picture of our smiling faces. The Spanish had already begun and my tired brain tried to process every word, failing miserably at times, the plus side was that my host sister spoke fluent english which helped the language gap.

It was time to go home, I said goodbye to my new friends and followed my family outside, as we waited for an Uber they asked me a few questions and I tried to respond in the best way I could. Soon the little red car pulled up, the man shoved my luggage in the trunk and then we were off! The car zipped through the city, and made it's way up the winding hill, luckily the house was only ten minutes from the CIEE building. Our destination sat at the end of the road, a steep stairway was to the right, leading down to the city below. As I climbed out of the car I looked at all the art that was painted around me, my house had a colorful mural painted on its walls, all the colors of the rainbow were there. I watched as my host mom unlocked the front door, I followed them inside and looked around, the house was adorable, it held three bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, dining room and a living room, everything was on one floor. Before I could pack my stuff away, I of course had to meet the dogs, we went to the kitchen and opened up the patio door unleashing the cuddly beasts who quickly engulfed me into their fur, the big white one was named Ed and he looked just like a mop! While the little black one was ironically named Black!  I knew from that moment I would spoil them like they were my own, and I believe they knew it, especially since I smuggled them a bag of scrumptious dog treats.  After the encounter I went to unpack the puzzle that I called my suitcase, then we had some dinner and being as tired as I was I went to bed. 

The next day was spent at my host sisters test for her college class, it was an exhibition event that she and her fellow partners had planned. It talked about same sex couples and adoption and how this was accepted in Chilean culture, which of course was very little being that Chile is a very conservative country. The whole conversation was in Spanish, I understood most of what was being said but a few key pieces were forsure left out. After the first half of the event me, my host mom and their Irish visitor went on a walk to see the ocean. I listened as they gave their opinions on the conversation we just heard, my mind picked up bits and pieces of the words they used. Once we got to the water we took a few pictures and then just watched the boats that scattered it's surface. Minutes later we returned to the exhibition to listen to a small concert and after that we made our way back home. That night my host mom cooked crepes and by now they are my favorite food, the thin pancake is filled with jelly and gooey caramel cream that mixed together make the best combination that I have ever tasted. 

My host family consists of Viviana, who is the boss of the house, Consuelo her daughter who is finishing her last year of college and me the new foreign exchange student, I like to call us the three musketeers oh, and of course the dogs which are the only men in our lives. My host family has hosted multiple students in the past, the only difference? They were all college students, so I would be their first high school student in the family since Consuelo had graduated. Being the youngest of the host students in the growing family meant I was the 'guagua' aka the baby of the family. In Chilean culture teenagers to young adults are treated more like children, in most homes a family's child will still be in the nest in their twenties and some even in their thirties. Where in America teenagers are treated like independent adults that should be able to make their own choices and face the consequences that follow, also most Americans fight to get out of their nest at eighteen so that they can spread their wings and fly, of couse some weary birds stay in the comforts of their home.  

In the end my first two days were jam packed, instead of sitting in bed recovering from jet leg I got to meet many new people, experience the city, see where all my host sisters hardwork goes to and of course a lovely poetry reading to end the night. 


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