Three months have come and gone; after being home in America almost two weeks, I am sad to say I wish I could spend a little more time with my Spanish family, but I also am truly happy to be home for the holidays with my American one. During my stay, my host family was able to share wonderful traditions with me, as I was able to share a few with them.
My younger sister, Candela, had a birthday in the month of November. The Sunday after her birthday, the extended family gathered at our house to have a birthday celebration. During this time, I was able to interact and play with both the younger and older generations. It was interesting to see a Spanish birthday party. From my many birthday party experiences with my American family, I noticed many similarities; however, two things that stood out to me that I don’t normally see was a champagne toast to the birthday boy/girl after singing “Feliz Cumpleaños” and the adults sitting at the dining room table for five hours straight holding a stable conversation.
About a week later I was able to share with my host family two things that mean a lot to me: my mother and a Thanksgiving meal. During the week of Thanksgiving break, my American mother came to Spain to visit me and meet my wonderful family. I was very fortunate that my Spanish family allowed for her to stay with us.
My host family asked me weeks in advance if my mother and I would share our American traditions for Thanksgiving and prepare a Thanksgiving meal. On the eve of Thanksgiving, we had an 11kg turkey in our kitchen with a few feathers still attached to it. I was able to teach and witness my entire family stuff the turkey before it reached the oven for a few hours. Watching my family encounter a turkey for the first time was priceless. My sister Candela loved stuffing the turkey so much that she started massaging the skin, but little Jimena was a tad bit nervous to touch it.
Because I worked all day at the academy on Thursdays, I left my mother in charge of the preparing and cooking of the meal. With her language she calls “Spanglish,” my mother was able to teach my Spanish mother how to make turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, etc. Later that evening, as I sat down at the dinner table with my Spanish family, my mother, Greg, and a few extra friends, I felt a little piece of home was with me and it was such a great feeling to be able to share such an important holiday for me with my new family.
In the first full week of December, I had a few important holidays off. On December 6, it was Constitution Day and on December 8 it was Immaculate Conception Day. For both of these days, I was able to stay in with my family and do some exciting things. That Tuesday we made homemade lasagna for lunch and that Thursday we constructed and decorated Gingerbread houses. We also were able to decorate the house with Christmas decorations for Nochebuena (Christmas Eve), Navidad (Christmas) and Los Reyes (Three King’s Day). They asked me to play some Christmas music while in the kitchen, so naturally I play Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and “Feliz Navidad.”
Contrary to popular belief, “Feliz Navidad” is not a Christmas song people listen to in Spain. Instead, two very popular carols are called “Los Peces en el Rio” which means “The Fish in the River” and “Campana Sobre Campana” which means “Bells Over Bells.” I was serenaded by both my host family and a group of adult women while working. During the class when I was serenaded with these Spanish carols, we decided to translate them from Spanish to English. Not only was this funny to watch the reactions of the women while learning the English words, but it also made completely no sense.
This Spanish adventure will be one that I will never forget. I was blessed to have such a wonderful host family that I was able to exchange traditions, customs, and languages. I would recommend any college student take advantage of their time to travel abroad for a few months to experience living with a host family, practicing the language that you’ve learned in school for many years, and to just explore what the world has to offer. I am now proud to say that I have a Spanish family that I know will love and care for me just like my American one does.
As my journey has come to an end, so does my blogging. I am so happy that I was able to share a little about what I have done this past semester with all of you. Thank you all for your constant support, prayers, and unexpected letters or care packages. It truly means a lot!