Discover the benefits of living with locals while studying abroad through the eyes of a former ALBA Studemt, Jake.
Here at ALBA a plethora of options for housing are offered. Whether it be living on your own in a studio style apartment on your own, living with other members of the Alba program, or living with a local, all options are good ones. I personally chose to live with a local and it may have been one of the best decisions of my life to date.
While the people I live with aren’t particularly locals (as they hail from Ecuador, Columbia, and Chile respectively), they are all native Spanish speakers that have lived in Spain as masters students for a while. Living with and getting to know these amazing individuals and their respective cultures has been a blessing for me as it has given me a home away from home as well as an even greater thirst to travel the world. This thirst comes form the fact that I now have friends all over the world. Alejandra, my Columbian roommate, has invited me to come visit Columbia and its natural wonders when she returns in the next year, Jose my Ecuadorian roommate has done likewise and I couldn’t be happier of more excited to go visit them.
One of my favorite things about living with Latin American’s is the thirst for life that my fellow “compañeros de cuarto” (roommates) have. There is always laughter and joy in my house (not to mention the constant delicious aromas wafting from the kitchen). Another advantage to having international roommates is that it has given me a chance to see the city in a way that few others get to experience. I get to see parts of the city that most tourists would never think to go. Along with the fact that I get to see the city in a new and unique way, it is always quite beneficial to have a group of friends outside the ALBA program. It allows for a kind of respite from school and a chance to see aspects of the city that locals enjoy rather then the club scene or simply the things one might stumble upon wondering through the city.
As I said earlier there are constantly wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen, this week I got the pleasure of cooking with my roommates and sampling some of the traditional Columbian fare that they find to be so delicious, and I must say, It was amazing. Alejandra and I made a sort of hard flat tortilla out of cheese and corn flower and put some amazing toppings on it (avocado, cheese, salsa, and chicken in my case) and it was one of the most delicious meals I have eaten to date. This cooking session was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my trip thus far.
While all of the factors Ive pointed out have obviously been a huge advantage to me, the most important thing has likely been the practice with language. It has allowed me to completely immerse myself in the Spanish (or Latin American) culture and communicate with locals in way that I would never have been capable of without my roommates. They not only teach me but help me with school, help me get my bearings in the city and teach me an entire new culture. It is a culture of love, laughter, good food, and of course a sense of family that is stronger than any I have ever been exposed to. I personally would highly recommend staying with locals it would seem that that it is the best way to experience the culture of Barcelona as well as the best way to make friends from around the world that could lead to more opportunities to see the world.