I had several fears before I moved into my host family's house.
1. I couldn't speak Arabic yet.
2. I was convinced that no one would speak English.
3. I am horrible at charades, so communication would have to be limited to yes and no questions.
After these scary first introductions, everything began to fall into place. The Kandousi family has welcomed many students from all around the world into their home, and they have become pros at making people feel comfortable and welcome in a strange environment. I was no exception. Within the first few minutes, I was already joking around with my sister and practicing the little Arabic I knew with my family. So, basically, I just told every member of the family my name about 20 times.
Now, three weeks later, I couldn't be happier or more thankful for the family I was placed in. My mother and father are wonderful. They are always willing to help me with anything I may need. My host brother, Osama, is the same age as my own little brother at home, Grant, and they are practically the same goofy kid who never ceases to give me a good genuine laugh. Most importantly there is Kaoutar my host sister. We got along swimmingly from the start. Everyday I come home, the first thing she asks me is "what did you learn today?," and then will proceed to practice it with me. If I am feeling homesick, she with talk with me. I even help her with her English a lot of the time.
I like to spend most of my time at home with my family. I try and help them with cooking or cleaning whenever possible. If they are sitting around talking and watching t.v., I will usually join them. Once, I even lead the women in then house on a workout, which after five minutes turned into everyone playing leap frog. The next day my mom told me she laughed so much her abs hurt. The family has made me feel incredibly comfortable in their home. I find myself calling it my home as well.
The language barrier is not even a factor. If Kaoutar isn't home to help me translate what I am saying, I don't let the in intimidation of using Arabic get me down. I usually just give it my best shot, and if I mess up, which happens 95% of the time, we all get a good laugh. I have found that if I don't understand what someone is trying to tell me or if no one can understand me, laughing usually makes everyone feel more comfortable and less frustrated.
Everyday, communication gets better. Everyday, I love coming home more and more. Everyday, I get less and less homesick and more and more sad about the fact that my weeks with the Kandousi family are dwindling.