As I prepared for Romania, I spent a lot of time thinking about my host family. I was excited to be immersed into the culture in one of the most effective ways possible but nervous for reasons that most people can relate to. You may have experienced what I was feeling in your first few weeks of college, during a summer away from home or maybe a weekend with your significant other’s family.
I was nervous that for eight weeks in Romania, I would be uncomfortable in the place that I would call home. I dreaded the awkward silences at mealtimes; I feared that I would crave my own bed in Two Harbors, Minn.; I didn’t think that I would want to face the morning in a stranger’s house. I worried that during my home stay, home would not be safe. Silly of me to worry.
As my time with Florin, Andreea and Madalina goes on, I am overwhelmed with the sense of “home” that I feel when I am here.
Because my family has hosted students for many years, my host mom, Andreea, speaks English quite well. I am thankful for this luxury. She loves conversation, and that has been a big reason why my experience has been so wonderful.
Andreea is patient, loving and always looking to serve me. It is quite humbling. My evenings are spent sitting in the kitchen while she buzzes around cleaning up after dinner. (It would be a sin for me to lift a finger to help!)
We talk about our schedules for the next day and our plans for October apple picking in the orchard. She helps me add to my microscopic Romanian vocabulary, and I correct her English.
We talk about our life experiences as best we can. Having an understanding of differences and a mutual desire to learn has made a huge difference in my home stay.
Another milestone on my journey of discovering this place as my home occurred just a few days ago. Our group spent the week in a mountain top village about 30 minutes from Lupeni for a youth camp. At the end of the week, my stomach was feeling off. While on our way back to Lupeni, I got sick in a charter bus with all the kids. I was quickly taken home.
Andreea was working, and I found myself wishing she was there to take care of me. All I wanted at that moment was a cup of Andreea’s tea and my bed. She came home early and went into full-blown mom mode for the next few days.
This was a wonderful moment for me. Being sick and on the road created a sense of longing for a home that is not my home. That was the day that my heart changed for this place. I now feel a sense of relief when I step through the door. I know that I am home, and that is beautiful to me.