When I arrived to Spain in early September I found that my home stay was very similar to my home life in my real home in the States. I have two parents and the freedom of any single child while their siblings are out of the house; what more could I want! A few weeks into my arrival I began to notice a big difference, though.

The first few days into my stay we would eat dinner at our kitchen table or out on the deck because we had company and it was nice out. As soon as the company left and the weather turned a bit colder the difference occurred. My host mom would make my dinner (usually my host parents would just snack a little bit as their dinner) and place it on a TV dinner tray. This meant that I would have to take it, sit in front of the TV, and eat. The first night I thought it was just a once in a while occurrence and then it started happening every night! In the United States a typical family usually eats together with the TV off and attention on the day’s happenings. This is not the case in Spain. Our attention is focused on the reality TV or game show. At times, still, it is hard for me to try to make small-talk because my host parents’ attention is focused on the TV. This is not a weird occurrence for just my family, but all of Spain. I have compared stories with my friends and they say that the TV is always on in their houses. Most say that the TV is always on for background noise and constant sound. It was hard to get used to and it still hard to get used to. I would have to say it is something I like least about Spain.

Laura Gordon is studying abroad in Toledo, Spain, with the University of Minnesota.