2014/2015. Posted by Jessica Y.

As I sit in my apartment in New York, I can’t help but think about everything I left in Barcelona after one year teaching English. I never thought I was going to miss my Spanish host family as much as I miss them now. How can people who were once strangers to me become so important in my life? Maybe if I tell you a little about what I learned from them, you might understand.

Let’s see, I guess everything started the day I arrived at the airport because the whole family welcomed me along with my tutor. From then on I realized how united the family and the school were and that’s one of the best qualities they hold. Throughout the ten months I was living with the family there was not a single day where I felt alone. They were always there to help me with whatever I needed even if it was giving me a hug.

As I began to share moments with the host family I became aware that each of them was special in their own individual way. The mother was always there to give me advice and take me on fun adventures, which often ended in non-stop laughter. The father who thought I was “a walking dictionary” (joke) shared many conversations with me and like the mother gave me advice about life, especially when I began to panic about my future.

The children were also unique in their own way. I spent most of my time with the three eldest: Lucia, Sergio and Tatan and they all taught me something different.

Spanish host family

My host family children’s farewell

Lucia who is the first-born taught me about perseverance. How? You might ask… Here’s how: she had received a bike as a birthday present and she asked me to teach her how to ride it. I didn’t have much experience on teaching anyone how to ride a bike but I decided to take on the challenge. We decided to practice on the grass just in case she fell off the bike. Lucia would go on the bike and would say “Jessica, please help me” I’ll hold the bike as she pedaled around the garden. This went on for about a week and then I had the idea of letting her go as she pedaled and as a signal to let her know she was doing it alone I would clap my hands. Once she gained confidence to ride alone she wanted to practice everyday after school and I would hear her tell herself “tu puedes” which means you can do it. She would pull me to garden everyday just to see her go around the garden. She never stopped encouraging herself as she pedaled her yellow/pink bike. In about three weeks she was able to ride her bike all by herself and I realized she had done it all alone. I might have been there to assist her in the beginning but she was the one that persevered each day as she practiced. A 6 year old taught me how it is possible to achieve whatever you set your mind to. You just have to always encourage yourself and be persistent.

Sergio and Tatan both taught me how to let go and have fun. Sergio taught me how to be a goalkeeper and how to kick a ball. At first I couldn’t catch the ball but he was very patient and would say “look Jessica, like this”. He taught me that patience was necessary to learn something new. Tatan taught me that even while reading a book we were able to have fun. We often spent hours pretending to be characters from one of his favorite stories The three little pigs. He loved being the wolf and chasing Lucia, Sergio and I around the living room as we oinked like pigs. These two boys taught me that fun is necessary in ones’ life and that we’re never too old to play pillow fights and fight dragons.

There aren’t enough words to describe all the wonderful experiences and adventures I had with the family . I will never forget all the laughs, hugs and kisses I experienced along their side. Now I have only one thing to say: I don’t regret choosing to live with a host family because I came back to New York as a whole different person. And even though I left a piece of my heart in Barcelona I know I’ll go back!