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My Iberian Immersion: Part III, I'm Now Part of the Family

December 22, 2005|By Morgan Hartley

Three months have passed since I left home. With them have gone the steepest part of this uphill journey and any inkling of the once repressive summer heat.

Although this past month has been rift with changes in my attitude, thoughts and habits, the most important of them was the growing relationship with my host family. It has been only in these last four weeks that we have begun to completely understand each other -- be familiar with each other's histories, good habits, bad habits, moods and way of thought. We have begun to be able to predict each other's actions, know each other's TV shows, and have inside jokes. I have become part of the family.

The barriers that had to be overcome before I could write that sentence were many and difficult. Language, culture, personalities, traditions and a thousand other tiny things had to be accommodated for and, above all, understood. Immediately upon arrival, the first call of duty was to understand the rules and routines of the household. This was learned not only through slow and choppy conversations with my mother, but also through a number of mistakes on my part -- using the wrong towel, using too much water, and my personal favorite, accidentally telling my mother, "You are very attractive when you cook" instead of "You are a good cook."

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The next step was adapting to living with a 12-year-old, something that I am still adjusting to. I had to learn how to cheer him up, make suggestions, and get used to having a ball of hyper activity perpetually zooming around me. What's more, the rules of the relationship of the two brothers had to be learned -- how they interacted, when they laughed together, when they fought.

Most important of all was gaining the trust of my family, making them feel comfortable with my maturity, my ability to handle myself without supervision, and, in the case of Luis, my capability to be someone who would not intrude excessively on his lounging lifestyle.

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