Monthly Archives: January 2013

Un regalo for your Host Family!

So, you’re going away! You’re gathering up your belongings and packing what you can into 1 or 2 suitcases (definitely not more!). You also get the wonderful opportunity to stay with a local host family. Don’t forget to stuff something into your suitcase for them!

You’ll get to share three meals a day with them and through their lifestyle learn the language & culture. The Host Family is one of the BEST ways to completely immerse yourself in your host culture. This will be your greatest and most intimate contact with the culture and people of your host country.

Now, what to bring them? Not only is it a nice gesture to someone welcoming you into their home, but it’s a nice ice breaker and also gives them a glimpse into YOUR culture 🙂

We have some ideas of gifts for your host family, but we also want to share with you what some of our students have taken to their host family.

Sol suggestions:

  • A small, inexpensive regional gift from the states (such as a coffee mug, postcard book, small bottle of maple syrup or hot sauce, etc.). Food items that the family can share always work well.
  • Something for the house (maybe a coffee table book from your state, a kitchen towel, etc.)
  • Family-style board games (that don’t require a language), local treats like preserves, candies, or maple syrup, a coffee-table photo book of their hometown, or a dry baking mix like blueberry muffins, biscuits, or scones

Alumni advice:

  • “I bought my Mama Tica an angel chime... She hung it by the door, and still tells me she thinks of me every time she hears it! I got a fashion watch for my sister and toys for mi hermano! Food is always good too! My second time I brought my moms Xmas cookies and a pretty picture frame. Ok I want to go back now!”- Emily Mullen (Wisconsin)  – Costa Rica
  • “I brought my Mama Tica a waffle iron… waffles are my favorite breakfast…. once I showed her how to make it she made them almost everyday… her daughter is like in love with waffles now and if was a nice start to the time being there… I also got the daughter her own gift and the family some picture frames…” – Lauryn Green (Southern California) – Costa Rica
  • “I bought my mama Oaxaquena a personalized spatula from my University because she loved to cook and also I bought a Christmas ornament!“- Brandi Moore (Kentucky) – Mexico
  • “I work at a boutique so I knew my family was religious and I brought them a handmade pearl cross for their wall”- Kasey Hirl (Texas) – Costa Rica
  • “I spent 3 weeks with 2 families in Japan in high school. I got each individual something small (like a Superman t-shirt for the teenage boy, jump rope for the 8 year-old girl), etc. As a family gift, I created a small scrapbook. It featured photos of my family, school, friends, and hobbies. The photos were then captioned (as best as possible) in both English and Japanese – so that they could show off where I was from!” – Karolyn Wotjowicz (Indiana) (Colleague &  Study Abroad Alumni)
  • “Spent a week in Costa Rica and I brought my family some maple syrup from home and they LOVED it.”- Ben Marx (New Hampshire) – Costa Rica
  • “I got a key chain of my state cause every student gets a home key in Argentina.” – Laury Valdes (Alabama) – Argentina
  • “I brought a candle to my host family. Somehow we lost something in translation and my host family thought it was something to eat. They liked it once they realized what it was though!”– Parker Tibbets (Texas) – Mexico
  • “I took a little photo album with pictures that i felt best resembled me. Also, being a Texan, it wasn’t hard to find souvenirs to take over to represent the Lone Star State; which they loved!!!”- Jory Garcia (Texas) – Spain
  • “I brought food that was only made in my state. and candy they loved it!”- Mat Walter (Minnesota) – Costa Rica
  • “When I went to Costa Rica I brought a few things like a coffee table book of my hometown and a t-shirt for the kid but my host mother absolutely loved the cook book that I brought!!”- Zoe Rianna – Costa Rica

The Host Family gift shouldn’t be anything too expensive or fancy, but it is a nice offering & an opportunity to share with them about your culture as well!

Please feel free to email us (info@soleducation.com) or post on the Facebook wall about an other suggestions you have and would like to see added to our list! Even things that didn’t work out – did you have a bust of a Host Family gift, and wish you would have had something as awesome as this helpful blog post to guide you on choosing an item? We’d love to hear your funny tales of the Host Family Gift that DIDN’T Quite make the cut. Or! Do you have a funny story like Parker? How did the communication go when you first presented them with your gift? Did they want to eat your candle? Let us know!

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Texas Table Cactus – maybe not take this on the plane, but it’s an idea!

“Thanks, I got it at Rebajas!”

While living in Cádiz, I knew this girl whom we’ll call Bootstraps. When the new year of 2010 rolled around, it seemed every day she would come into the apartment with a new jacket on or new boots. She often carried new hand bags, scarves and always had some new & amazing store to rave about! What was this anomaly? Boostraps had stumbled upon the January mercantile tradition of Rebajas! Whenever we said, “Oye, guapa, me encanta tu vestido nuevo!”she would answer, “Thanks, I got it at rebajas”, or ask, “Rubia, ¿dónde compraste esa chaqueta nueva? es super güey!” She would answer, “Thanks, I got it at rebajas”. It was simply such an exciting time, our ears & eyes were flooded with rebajas! Big red signs displaying the magic word were everywhere.

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Whether you’re a fashionista, love saving money or simply like being clothed, you will love the sales in Spain during January. Some of the most amazing sales you will ever see in your life begin around the second week of January, right after the Three Kings Festival (Los Reyes Magos). These phenomenal sales occur in three stages: first, rebajas, then an even BIGGER markdown for a second wave of rebajas, and then finally, the third portion: FINAL CLEARANCE SALES! Europe in general is always on the cutting edge of fashion, and for our students in Spain, you’ll definitely get some of this filtered down into the South East corner to our favorite Spanish city, Granada! Stores will be swollen with incredibly priced clothes, jewelry, shoes, hats, garments, watches, etc. Anything you can imagine for prices you cannot!

The English translation of Rebaja is reduction or discount. Imagine an entire month just dedicated to reducing prices on fashionable items! (Sure, many of them you may not find suitable as the Southern Spaniards can be quite eccentric in what they choose to put on their bodies or how they style their hair, but who’s to stay the mullet didn’t die in the 80’s? (There is a little bit of everything for everyone). Have you noticed the abundance of Spanish mullets still? During my time in Granada my friends and I would spend certain afternoons on what we called our Mullet Safari. How many Spanish mullets can you count in one day?

Here are a few images of local Granada customs, including REBAJAS: http://zoom.ideal.es/galeria/2012-07-01-rebajas-granada.html

You will find clothes & accessories of all kinds, from the classy & streamlined edges of Zara, to the young & frisky elements of Blanco, swooping around to the edgy, urban woman of Mango, your shopping in Granada will not be in vain! (Okay, it might be, but take advantage of your time there). Course there are countless independent stores as well, including souevnir shops of local Andalucíans & Northern Africans. As for the Gypsies that congregate in front of the Catedral offering you a sprig of their rosemary – CAUTION!  They will hand it to you as a friendship offering, however  this “gift” is not free, not even on sale! Simply smile, watch your belongings closely, and enjoy flipping through racks of discounted goodies.

The main shopping area in Granada is near Puerta Real in the streets Reyes Católicos, Recogias, Mesones y Acera del Darro.

I hope anyone lucky enough to be in Spain at this time, or really, just be in Spain, has the time & means to partake in this wonderful tradition 🙂

P.S. Scarves make great gits.

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Fiesta de la Toma (Festival of the Capture) – Jan 2nd

If you were a Sol Education Abroad student studying in Granada, Spain you wouldn’t have to be in school today or back to work, but rather celebrating Fiesta de la Toma (Festival of the Capture)!  Among the many Spanish, Andalucían and even Granadian festivals there are in a year (which is a lot!), the Festival of the Capture, unique to Granada, starts off the year with exciting colors, culture & history! This day is in recognition of the day the Catholics Monarchs “liberated” Granada in 1492. As we all know Spaniards have some of the most beautiful & culturally rich festivals in the world and this day is no exception. During la Fiesta de la Toma the festivities can include very eccentric & colorful parades displaying 15th century period costumes, the raising of the monarchs’ banner at the Ayuntamiento (City Hall – in Plaza del Carmen), as well as many young persons climbing up the Alhambra’s Toree de la Vela to ring its bell.

Here is a short video on the raising of the monarchs’ banner at city hall: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHQ-ZI2HwDA

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