A homestay gives you the chance to live with a local and embrace your new city's culture firsthand. In this week's post, Shivani opens up about her first thoughts on this experience and what her homestay in Buenos Aires is like. She shows us her bedroom and also shares what makes her feel right at home with her host. From learning more Spanish to knowing the ins and outs of Buenos Aires, see how Shivani plans to thrive in her study abroad experience!
Currently, I am staying with a woman named Mariana and two other international students in an apartment in Recoleta. Recoleta is one of the more residential and wealthy areas of Buenos Aires and is filled with cafes, ice cream shops, and clothing boutiques. Also, it doesn’t hurt that my university is in walking distance!
I didn’t know what to expect coming into Mariana’s apartment. I assumed she was going to be kind, since she was generous enough to let a random American girl stay in her house and eat dinner with her, but still…everyone hears "horror" stories about bad host families or bad house conditions.
I started getting a little nervous when I never got a response to an email I sent her about a week or two before leaving for Argentina (turns out it just went to her junk mail and she never saw it). Until the day before, I did not even know if she was expecting me at a certain time, etc... However, it all worked out and my parents were even able to meet her before their flight back.
The view from my bedroom at my homestay in Buenos Aires.
When I rang her buzzer, my tummy was turning and I was trying to take deep breaths to calm myself down. All my nervousness went away when the door opened to a smiling, petite brown-hair lady saying “Hola!!”. She welcomed us in and helped carry my bags up the stairs to her apartment. I was very delighted entering her space; it was such a clean and pretty apartment. There were artwork, miniature ships, a piano, contrasting brown and green colors and other aesthetically pleasing furniture that made the apartment look very trendy and (for a lack of a better word) cute.
My bedroom had yellow walls with blue and yellow throw pillows on the bed, a desk, numerous cupboard/dresser space, and a door on the side that led out into a small balcony. Sunshine was streaming in the large windows, making the room seem even brighter than it already was. I was not only relieved, but extremely ecstatic to learn that I had such a beautiful and homey room. In my family’s house, the walls surrounding the entrance are yellow and it always makes me feel so happy walking in. I felt the same here, but instead to the little bedroom I would call my home for the next few months.
My bed and room for the next few months.
In general, Mariana is extremely nice and helpful. She has been living in Buenos Aires her whole life, so she knows the ins and outs quite well. Whenever I have a question about a place to go, what type of transportation to use, what to look out for, she always has an answer. Dinner conversations are always fun and I learn something new each time whether it be about a word in Spanish, the country itself, or about her life.
Mariana preparing dessert, which is usually some mix of fruit.
Yesterday, she cut watermelon and prepared fried apples with cinnamon and sugar.
It reminded me of apple pie. It was delicious!
The two other students living here go to a different school and have been here for a bit already. One girl is originally from England and the other is from Switzerland. Both are extremely nice people and I enjoy talking to them about their experiences and having their presence also in the apartment.
This is one of my roomates, Erin
I do not feel uncomfortable or unsafe or unintelligent, despite the fact that I am certainly not fluent in Spanish. Our conversations include hand gestures and looking up words sometimes, but it is never the case that I feel like I cannot speak to her or convey a message and vice versa. Living in a homestay has definitely been one of the main way to practice my Spanish thus far.
I have definitely one of the better experiences with homestays. I know others do not think their apartment is as clean as it should be, or are sometimes afraid of asking their host families for something. A part of it also has to do with how adaptable YOU are to a new environment. Of course, you have to respect their rules, space, and lifestyle. After all, you are living in their home, not vice versa. Either way, this has been my second homestay experience (the first was in Spain for about 3 weeks) and both have been incredible. I highly recommend living in a homestay if you want to be more immersed in the culture, get out of your comfort zone a little more, and have a more developed study abroad experience!
Also, it is nice not having to worry about breakfast and dinner everyday… 🤪
Shivani Pandya is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2019, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Bioinformatics major at University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in Buenos Aires this semester.
Shivani's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.