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Student Reflection

After a few hours drive to a small town of around 18,000, I was prepared for my homestay experience. Having spent a week in northern Spain, I had accustomed myself to the northern Castilian accent in which they pronounced every letter, and I felt confident in my abilities. Little did I know the journey that awaited me.

Our group of twelve Americans had finally arrived. We drove into our beautiful homestay community and towards the twelve individual families anxiously waiting for us. I walked off the bus and noticed the largest family of the group standing by a van. My host family had eight members already, and I was to be the ninth. I walked over to them to the most loving embrace, everyone smiling back at me. I introduced myself and was excited to be able to communicate and understand them. But wow-their Spanish was extremely different from the accents of the north. I realized that I was going to have to learn quickly or I was going to be in for a long three weeks.

During the homestay, I was also interning as a waiter at one of the town’s churrerías, a breakfast restaurant similar to a café. On the first day of my internship, the excitement ensued. As the cobblestones pressed into the soles of my orange Nike shoes, I navigated through the narrow sidewalks by the white homes as I walked toward my new workplace. The bright peeling paint of the centuries-old buildings burned under the scorching Andalusian sun. I paused to read the rusty green sign above the restaurant door and pushed the door open. A large group of Spaniards appeared - everyone crowding into the small churrería. A man wearing a black shirt waved me over, and I made my way to the mahogany counter. How could he have time to talk to me while a hundred people awaited their orders at the café? Hurriedly, Juan, the owner of the churrería, introduced me to my coworkers - Raquel, Rafa, Sonia, and Susanna. He gave me an apron, and the next thing I knew I was taking orders. Juan pointed to a table of five, and I apprehensively made the long walk over to the group. I politely asked what they would like, and they shot back five orders mumbled in Andalusian Spanish. As I walked towards the kitchen, I realized I could not remember a single order. A daunting three weeks awaited me. As I continued to take orders without a notepad, my Spanish improved daily. By the end of the three weeks, it felt just as natural as if I were speaking English. I could take everyone’s order with ease, and I built relationships with the customers in the restaurant.

My internship was amazing; however, it was the people of my host community that made the trip special. No one in my host community spoke English; therefore, I was speaking Spanish, or I was not speaking at all. The people in my host community were some of the most welcoming and loving people I have ever met. Despite the initial language barriers, everyone was so enthusiastic to get to know me, and I built strong friendships that I keep up with even today. My host family was absolutely amazing as well. This experience was life-changing, and I cannot wait to visit my host family again this summer.

Garrett Murphy, Student, 2018

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Please find our program dates for Summer 2019 below. Departure and arrival airport is JFK. To apply for a LITA program, please visit our Apply page:North Group 1: June 17th - July 23rd, 2019           ...