Living with a host family is awkward, but only in my head.

Allow me to explain that.

I’m an overthinker at the best of times; I’m constantly in a state of worry over something even when I don’t have much to be concerned about. Living as a guest in someone else’s home brings up a whole new batch of worries. You know how you’re always really carefully considerate when you’re a guest in someone’s home? I hope you are. If not, you should be. Now, imagine doing that for six months.

Tiptoeing to the bathroom in the middle of the night, cringing because you’re sure that the flush just woke everyone up, always making your bed with hospital corners, getting dressed before breakfast rather than going downstairs in your pj’s, taking care not to drink the last of the milk, keeping your stinky feet off the couch…

I also worry about things that will most likely never happen-like the possible event of one of the family members walking in on me taking a shower or vice versa, hating a family dinner dish and having to somehow hide it in my pocket, or falling asleep in the car on family outings and causing them to think that I’m not interested in the conversation and being horribly insulted. I’m always wondering whether to hug or bisous (kiss either cheek) the family when they return home in the evening, whether to ignore or intervene during family arguments, and if doing the wrong thing might make them decide I’m a terrible person.

But the truth is, all of these worries are for naught. My family is wonderful, and if any of these things happened, it wouldn’t be a huge deal. Both the parents are intelligent, open-minded folks who care about their kids and want nothing more than to provide an interesting language-learning environment for them. They’re aware of the occasionally awkward moments that come from having both a cultural and a language barrier between us. I have never felt at all uncomfortable in their presence, but when I return to my bedroom, I start thinking about all of the awkward things that could happen, and the cycle continues.

Even though chances are nothing will ever come of these worries, it’s an odd existence.


One comment on “Overthinking

  1. Rhonda Catanzaro says:

    I understand what you mean. One can never be fully relaxed in a “home not ours.” However, I think you are also correct about what your host family–particularly the brothers–are gaining from the experience of having you there. Quid pro quo—and with eclairs!

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