I wasn’t afraid about the eight-hour plane ride to São Paulo, all my classes being in my third language or living without Ihop for six months. No, I was afraid of living with a person that I have never met for a long period of time. I’ve heard horror stories about host parents, from not getting fed enough, or having a curfew every night. When I received a message from my host mother a week before I arrived saying how excited she was to meet me and asking what sorts of foods I like to eat, I was excited but still guarded. She seemed sweet online, but I figured that could have been a trick.
Turns out, she is probably one of the nicest, most giving people in the entire world. She truly takes her hosting seriously and would do anything to make you feel more comfortable. If there was anyone that you would want to be your host, Miriam is certainly that person. Her living room with the white pillows, wood floors and crisp green plants looks like something out of a yoga magazine, which makes sense because she is a yoga instructor. It is almost impossible not to feel relaxed. She is divorced, but has three adult children, two with children of their own. Most of the time, it is just the two of us, but on the weekends, the whole family gets together to play with the grandchildren and to eat a lot of food.
That fear I had about not eating was completely unnecessary. On the days when I do not have class, I eat about four or five times a day. Brazilians have a different idea of what constitutes a meal and a snack. My host mom gave me three hot dogs for a snack and then immediately asked me what I wanted for dinner. Even after I finish eating, she is always saying, “pega mais Chaquél, a comida é só para nós,” get more Chaquél, the food is only for us. It is a nice change to have a home cooked meal everyday. As a result of her yoga lifestyle, she also believes in healthy eating. She’s made couve or kale at almost every meal. I never thought I would miss it when I did not have it, but it has become one of my favorite foods. Although she likes healthy foods, she makes a different flavored cake, from scratch, every week because she knows everyone likes cake.
Another positive about living with a host mother is practicing my Portuguese everyday. She does not speak English, so when we do not understand each other I have to either ask questions or figure out another way to communicate. In the two months I have been here, I have seen an improvement in my language skills, thanks to the help of the host mom.
Basically, this is my new home away from home.