Making Meaning of the American Student-Spanish Host Family Experience

Jennifer L. S. Engel, University of South Carolina


When U.S. students study abroad, they take with them their own culture - their behaviors, beliefs, and values - that are grounded in their sense of American identity. They share their culture with those they come into contact with, and their host families in particular. Yet little has been asked of the host families regarding what they may learn about American culture from having U.S. students living in their homes and what the hosting experience means to them. This study addresses a gap in literature by providing further explanation of the outcomes of the experience for Spanish host families from their perspective. The findings indicate how these families come to interpret American culture, as well as their own culture, via the hosting experience.