When you have been independent for several years, living in a family, with a different language and culture, becomes a rewarding and surprising experience on a daily basis. Thankfully, the family where I live accepted me but also my cultural differences.
Family routine: the kid is king!
In my host family life is punctuated by the work and centered on the child. As a result, during the week, since the child is having breakfast at school, everyone has breakfast whenever they want. But everyone gets together for lunch. The “mama” and her brother prepare delicious meals for lunch for all those who join for the meal. It’s a great time to share typical Bolivian cuisine and the best moment to practice your Spanish. I am curious about Bolivian culture, but my family is also curious about French culture. The evening is like the morning, for those who wish to eat, the fridge is always full of good things.
Rules and customs: getting lost in the provecho’s
Each family has its rules but also its customs. For example, in my family, the laptop is forbidden during the meals. A simple rule but thanks to this we really share this moment.
In Bolivia, during the meal it is common to say “buen provecho” (or provecho) before starting to eat as well as at the end of the meal. When someones says that to you, you have to answer “gracias”. On the contrary, people going out of the table often say “gracias” (implying thank you for the meal) and here you have to say “provecho”. But in the family where I am they only say “provecho” at the end of the meal. After some questions and explanation from my family, I understand that each family adapts this custom in its own way.
Activities: swimming on Sunday
Living in a host family is also an opportunity to share activities during the weekends. For my part I was lucky. The school holidays were a good opportunity to share a Sunday with the family including cousins. After a delicious meal with friends of the family for a birthday, we went to Esmeralda Park. It was the ideal activity given the heat. I enjoyed swimming in this beautiful place. And the advantage with children is that no matter the language barrier, some things are universal. Like the simple pleasure of jumping into the water. It was a simple moment of sharing and laughter. We then went on a boat trip, one child was scared, and, of course, the cousins were making fun of him. Even with all this, I was still amazed by the beauty of nature. I saw parrots flying over the water, giving us time to admire the color of their feathers.
As you have understood, Bolivian families are extremely welcoming. And for them, it’s a real pleasure to share their daily life with other people. I am very happy and very grateful to live this experience and to feel I’m part of their family.