To Homestay or Not Homestay..

Playa_del_Carmen_Solexico_offices By Alisa W., guest blogger studying Spanish in Playa del Carmen, Mexico 

Since living in Mexico, I have had a lot to consider about the choices concerning the school that I attend, the length of time I stay,  and choosing the homestay over other housing options.  I chose the homestay option with the belief that it would be the easiest way to spend my time here in Mexico.  After meeting others that are attending my school who had not chosen the homestay, I began to question whether or not I had made the correct choice.  Some of my friends are posted-up in the hotel that the school recommends, and some other of my peers are living in the student residence (which I didn't even know existed, probably because of my late sign-up). 

My first object of consideration became the student residence.  It sounds fun to be staying with all the students, being able to hang out all the time, and go out without having to plan hours before.  My second consideration was the hotel, mainly because it is air-conditioned, and that is where most of the people I hang out with are staying.  My homestay is far from these places, so I have start walking early to get to them, or take a taxi.  Fortunately, I have a reliable internet connection so we don't necessarily have to plan our afternoons and evenings before school gets out.  However, I also began to take into account the home where I stay. No, there is no air conditioning.  But there are two fans in the room and a good breeze.  The first couple of nights, it was difficult to sleep.  However, I now sleep soundly. 

At my home, my mom serves me two meals per day.  In the morning, fresh cut fruit and toast with jam.  In the evening, she serves dinner and chooses to mix it up.  Sometimes even serving the mexican version of Chinese food!  She is very kind, and when she found out how much I like Horchata, she served it the next night with dinner.  One of my fellow housemates mentioned that he loved empanadas con queso, and we had them for breakfast the next morning.  My familia also helps me with my Spanish.  Although my father speaks English very well, he will push you as hard as you like to learn.  If you speak in Spanish, he will speak in Spanish.  If you speak in English, he will speak in English.  My mom only speaks Spanish which forces me to put to use what I learn in school, even if I am not confident on a word, and she corrects me when I say things incorrectly in the nice way that only mothers are able to do.  The two meals per day helps to save me a lot of money, as well.  While my hotel and student residence friends are searching the streets for their next restaurant or surviving on packaged foods, I am enjoying home cooked meals from my family.  

I also feel like staying with a family keeps me open-minded.  I think when you are so close to your friends (i.e. staying in the same hotel or residence) you tend to all stick together and don't really get much exposure to the locals.  Since my friends are not close, I often walk down to lay on the beach by myself, and each time I have done so, I have had a lot of local residents stop and talk to me.  Which helps me with my spanish, and the city that I am staying in.  In conclusion, although I think there may be some sacrifice when choosing a homestay.  That being said, I am sure I made the right choice.  A homestay puts you out of your comfort in some ways (i.e. showing up when the entire family is there the first day!), but learning to be comfortable in an environment you're not used to is essential to learning about yourself and expanding your horizons.

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