Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mi Casa es Su Casa

It was a long week. The majority of us had "exámenes parciales" (midterms) in at least one class and those of us in 308 (which is almost everybody) had a big history essay due on Friday. But now we can breathe. This coming week is when the rest of the students at UCSP have their exámenes parciales, but since most of us are just taking one or two classes directly-enrolled at the university, we are taking (or have taken) those exams at a different time and are treating this week as a "semana libre" (free week) where we can travel. We (in smaller groups) will be exploring new parts of the country like Paracas on the coast, Ica, Nazca (home of the famous and mysterious Nazca Lines), Cuzco (the old Incan capital), the selva (jungle), or sticking around in Arequipa to spend time with Peruvian friends and family and do more exploring in this area. But most of us haven't left yet, so you will have to wait until later to hear about those adventures.

Since there was nothing super exciting that happened this week, I thought I would talk about what I think all of us would agree is one of the best things about being here in Peru: our wonderful host families. It seems like it's been an eternity since the first night when we arrived and were sitting in the auditorium at the university, all of us students one one side and all the host families on the other, anxiously waiting to meet them. Though they welcomed us warmly, they still seemed like strangers back then. But now that we've been living with them in the same house for nearly two months, it really does seem appropriate to call them "mi familia" (my family). They've walked us to school for as many days as needed until we knew our way, they put up with us when we butcher our Spanish and help us to improve, they always make sure we have more than enough delicious home-cooked food, they care for us when we are sick, etc. But more than anything, they've taken us into their homes, included us, and treated us like we are truly part of the family. I think I speak for us all when I say that our host families have been such a blessing and that we'll miss them dearly when we leave.

I asked the members of our group to share a bit about what they like about their families and some of the fun things they've done with their families. Here's what they said:
  • Jamie: I like to cook with my sisters on Saturday mornings. It usually takes all morning to make lunch but I love spending time with them and getting to know them a little better. In general, I just love that I have special relationships with each one of them: my mom, my dad, my older sister, and my younger sister. I really feel at home here. 
  • Megan: My favorite thing about my host family is that my mom gossips to me like I'm one of her amigas. It's so funny and she is so dramatic. The first day they just whisked me away to a petting zoo without telling me where we were going.
  • Anna: I love inside jokes and laughing with my Padre...I love how mi madre just exuberates affection and all her endearing nicknames for me: "Corazon, Anita, mi amor, Anni..." Honestly, some of my favorite times are just chilling at night with them...laughing and commenting on their favorite TV shows...ordering chifa (Chinese food with a Peruvian twist)...cheering on their favorite tennis player from Spain...or just talking about whatever  
  • Carmen: My parents are so goofy and I love it. My dad is especially funny and is always teaching me goofy-sounding Peruanismos/Arequipeñismos (words and phrases unique to Peru/Arequipa). I also love how warm and hospitable they are. I immediately felt like part of the family . I love eating meals and watching TV together. My family especially loves shows like Yo Soy and La Vos and we love discussing our favorite singers. They also watch a lot of soccer and tennis and we always get really into it. We also go to el Club Internacional together nearly every week to eat lunch and exercise. 
  • Hannah K.: I love sitting on the couch with Maria (mi mama peruana) and sharing our latest Pinterest inspirations (I introduced her to Pinterest; she's hooked) while we eat ice cream. And discuss everything from who is the cutest actor in the chick-flick we are watching to Arequipeñan politics. I love how we have pillow fights while listening to Pirates of the Caribbean music at full volume. The family is so loving and always laughing! I love how i feel like I belong here  
  • Me (Hannah B.): I love the talks I have with my host parents after dinner. We sit and drink tea and talk about random stuff. We often don't eat dinner until 8:30 or 9 so sometimes it gets pretty late and my homework gets pushed aside (don't worry, I still get it done eventually), but it's totally worth it. My host dad and brother are hilarious and I love joking with them. And I love holding my 1 month old "sobrino" (nephew). I love that my host mom calls me "hijita" (literally "little daughter" - they use lots of diminutives here) and even introduces me that way to friends and family. 

And here are a few photos of us and some of our host family members:

Laurel and Lori and their families

Anna and her host mom volunteering with Operation Smile.

Carmen B. and her host parents

Carmen DB and her hermanita

Emily H. and fam exploring the Reserva Nacional

Emily S. with her host sisters

Hanna and fam

Hannah K. and her hermanito
Jamie and her sister
Lauren and fam

Lindsey and fam

Lori and her host dad

Me (Hannah B.) and my host family having our "desayuno americano" (American breakfast) that I made - pancakes, bacon, and scrambled eggs :)

Micah and his host brother, being silly as usual

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