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A young arriero leads a mule across fresh snow in the Peruvian Andes. Photo by Benjamin Swift (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest Finalist), South America Semester.

Feeling at home in Tiquipaya

It’s only my third day with my host family and I already feel at home. Here in Cochabamba, I have an older sister, an older brother, a younger sister, a younger brother, and two parents. My host dad and older siblings work for most of the day while I help my host mom and 15-year-old sister Ana with the cooking and chores during my free time. I also play with toy cars and puzzles with my 4-year-old host brother Santiago. Of course, the homestay has come with its challenges, most notably the language barrier. With that being said, I have learned a lot, like how to count in Aymara (my host family’s native language) and how to wash my clothes by hand. My favorite part of the experience so far has been the food. I’ve had rice and pasta with vegetables, butternut squash soup, and fried plantains (my favorite!) prepared by me and my host family. So far, the homestay has been an incredibly gratifying experience and I cannot wait to see what else my host family and I will learn from each other.