Panama – Living at the Host Families

Schülerin Kathi

written by Kathi

„!Hola! Me llamo Kathi. Tengo 15 anos. Soy de Munich de Alemana.“

Before we went to our host families here in Boquete, Panama, these few words were nearly everything that we were able to say in Spanish.

We arrived in Boquete at the language school at 4 pm. We had a really long day, because we had to get up in Panama City at 3.45 am to get to Boquete. Everyone was tired, but then we got the information at which host family we would live for the next seven days. First, we all sat inside the school and the organisation team told us the rules for our stay. For example that we have to be at the families‘ home at 7pm at the latest, because after that it is dark and then it is not safe enough for us to be outside.

I lived at a family with a grandma and grandpa, my host mum, her sister and her husband. But the most time I spent with my host mum and grandma. Another KUS student, Klara, lived right next to my house, and her family was very kind, too.

Both families lived in small houses, and I think my family loves pink. Because everything was pink. The doors, the walls, the tables and the whole bathroom. Just everything! It was really funny. One evening Klara and I together made typical German ‚Vanillekipferl‘ with both families. It was really an experience. At first, the supermarket did not have ‚vanilla powder‘ and ‚powdered sugar‘. So we tried it without, then something else was missing, so we just made it how we thought it could work. In the end, we made our ‚Kipferl‘ with liquid vanilla and we grounded the sugar with a stone. In Panama it is not unusual to cook like that, but for Klara and me it was a very new experience.

At the beginning of the week, my Spanish – or not just Spanish – was a little problem, but after the first school day with four Spanish people and just six students my spoken Spanish got better and better.

I realized that it is important to speak, and when you do not know a word, to not be afraid: You can look it up or just try to explain it with your hands and feet.

The food here is in a good way very different than in Germany or on our ship. Often it is accompanied with rice and cooking bananas.

The host families were very nice. They always made sure that we were fine and asked if everything was all right.

When I showed them pictures of my home and my friends in Germany and from our ship, they also showed me pictures of their life. Panamanian families are often very big families. My host mum has one sister and three brothers. And they are often guests at her house.

The whole family is very lovely and it is interesting to have a small look in the normal lives of Panamanian people. It is just a completely different lifestyle than in Europe. But I like it a lot.

I think the week with the Panamanian family was an interesting experience that I will remember my whole life.