Not So Different

My one big concern coming into this trip was how I would get along with/be accepted by my host family. I’m not going to lie, the idea of living with strangers for a month who do not speak my native language in a foreign country where I have never been made me anxious for sure. What made it worse, though, was the reaction I received any time I told anyone before I left; I was always met with, “Wow that’s so cool and brave! I could never do that.” However, as soon as I arrived I realized my fears were completely irrational.
From day one, my host family has gone out of their way to make sure that I feel included with them when we’re all at home, and they have also shown me generosity that is unlike anything I have seen in the States. In my house, there are four people not including me. Even better, there is a girl my age. She and I have a lot in common, such as a love for music, traveling, and chocolate (the most important part of any friendship). In my first day here, we talked for hours about everything, including family, our friends, and what all I should do during my time in La Paz.   I was immediately comfortable with her, which is something that has made this transition so much easier.
This past weekend, she and I went to a family lunch at her uncle’s house. These were the family members we had talked about, so I knew she was not as close with them as some of the others. Right before we arrived, she prepared me for what I was about to encounter, which reminded me a lot of myself when I first introduce people to my loud, crazy, rambunctious family. She was nervous and so was I, only because I was about to meet twenty-something people and be the odd one out in many ways.
When we went inside, we were both greeted kindly by everyone (the cheek kissing is still something I’m trying to get used to), and then she and I sat down to talk to everyone. I have this really bad nervous habit of picking at my nails; it’s awful and I have tried to stop but it’s almost an involuntary tick now. While we were sitting around talking, I noticed that not only was I picking at my nails, but my host sister was too. This may seem insignificant, but to me it stood out simply because here are two people from vastly different places, speaking different languages, knowing different things, yet having the same nervous habits. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this is why I love traveling in the first place…without this trip I would never have gotten to know a person who is so different than me, yet also so similar.

One thought on “Not So Different

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  1. I’m glad you’re having a positive experience with your host family. Why is it considered so “brave” to go overseas? Is it because it’s rare for Americans to do? How can your experience help you get “inside” the perspective of an exchange student at Ole Miss? Or an immigrant?

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