The Best Host Family in the World
How can you summarize four months of living with an Argentine family into one blog post? I've been with these people basically every day and have been given the opportunity to hear their stories, learn about their lives, and leave a lasting impression on their family. Adriana and Carmelo, my two host parents, have been hosting students and travelers for many years prior to this point and with each student that comes and goes, they say that they learn something new about their own city and the world.
I can remember receiving the description of my host family back in June and feverishly trying to Facebook stalk Adriana and Carmelo; hoping to find some indication about them aside from their names, family description, and address in Buenos Aires. Without much luck besides finding a picture, I hoped for the best in the coming weeks before my departure from the US. Unfortunately after hearing and reading some horror stories of recent students that lived with different families all over the world, I was definitely nervous for what was to come at the time.
On July 19th when I arrived at my home stay in BA, both Ben and I were greeted with open arms from Adriana and Carmelo. However, with the tiny bit of language barrier at the time, I could not help but think "what did I get get myself into?" Since that day, things have only gotten tremendously better. Our first night at their home, we were surprised to see their entire family over their house to celebrate Adriana's sister's birthday. From this, we realized how crazy their family was, and how much we were going to love it.
Unfortunately for some of my friends, they did not have the same experiences that I did. My circumstances were much different from others because I live in a large, beautiful house in a more residential area. Most of my other friends live in smaller high-rise apartments in more central locations in the city. They also mostly only live with older women who host students to supplement their income. Whereas, Carmelo is retired and Adriana still works, but they host a number of students at the same time because they have the space in their home. It is sad to say, but for some of my friends who had a host mother that would cook for them, but not eat dinner with them, the time during and after the meal (called "sobremesa") was useless for them because they did not get to practice the language or learn the most about their host family's lives. For me, that time is and has been my favorite time, because I learn even more Spanish, or "Castellano" as they say because of their European influence, and learn more about their pasts.
Since we have been down here, we have experienced many of the most significant highs and lows that their family has ever had. Of course it is impossible to forget about the untimely passing of their dog, Donatella, who was a major part of their family for many years. Or the great news of hearing about the pregnancy of their middle daughter, Carolina; who actually finds out the sex of the baby this coming Monday. These instances are just a few things that I was here for during my time in Buenos Aires.
It would be foolish for me to forget to thank Romina, their youngest daughter, for always being friendly and welcoming to us. Although we did not get the chance to go with her and her friends to their favorite "secret bar", we can still thank her for having us over for dinner and allowing us to practice our Spanish even more. It is great to have chances like this to meet more people and actually practice some of the local slang that is used amongst Porteños. Romina is a gem and deserves nothing but the best in all she does.
In addition, I cannot thank Paola and Martin enough for their generosity and hospitality, especially in the beginning. Paola and Martin frequented the house more often back then to make sure that we were comfortable with everything, which we obviously were. But the countless meals at their house, the more than useful advice they gave us, visits to Paola's school to teach her students, cooking with them back in August, Martin picking us up in his car when it was downpouring rain, getting to watch El Superclasico with them.. the list goes on. All of these things made me appreciate my decision to stay with a family, especially one that I have loved since day one. So I thank you, Paola and Martin, for your generosity with everything imaginable. I have never met two nicer people in my life, and that in itself is something that I will never forget.
As for Adriana and Carmelo, there are too many things that I will undoubtedly miss once I return to the United States. The obvious would be Adriana's cooking, because she is basically the main reason for any weight gain that I may have had since being abroad. Her cooking is second to none, and I can assure you that all of her students appreciate that. Of course, I will miss Carmelo's funny comments and his excitement when he learns and uses English words correctly. I have never seen a 65 year old man get so excited about something, and that is definitely a sight to see. Also for Carmelo, I will miss the antics that go on between he and his best friend Edguardo every time that they are together. Hopefully when I am that age, my best friends and I will be just as close as they are. Just as well, Adriana has been nothing but the best with her generosity, as she has been more than welcoming and helpful throughout all of my time here. I laugh thinking about the things that I will miss about her, especially her "animated-ness" when she speaks (thanks to her Italian and Spanish roots) and her famous sayings like "Chicos, ojos cuando van a salir", meaning "have eyes (be careful) when you are going out." I cannot thank them enough for all of the experiences and knowledge that they have given me. I know that when I return to Buenos Aires, I will surely be stopping in for a visit; but also when I get back to the United States, I know that I will keep in touch with all of them.
The good news is that tonight we have our last big family dinner with everyone. Although I dread saying "see you soon" to them, it'll be a necessary way to round out some goodbyes before this Tuesday.
Writing this post was more eye-opening than many of the others that I have done, because the realization that I have just days left here is starting to set in. I have become so accustomed to the lifestyle of Buenos Aires, so readjusting back to "real life" will be difficult. I can't help but wonder: why can't this be my real life? Studying here, living here, settling down here. Maybe one day. Nostalgia. Sorry for the corny ending, but I'm writing this while hanging with my friend Sarah and sitting in Plaza de las Naciones Unidas in Recoleta with a great view of the city I love. I'd say that I will talk to you all soon, but I really should say that I will see you all very soon. The countdown is now down to just 4 days until I arrive at JFK in New York City.
"You will never be this free again." - Anonymous