We booked Spain almost a year ago when I had the brilliant idea to naturally beef up Lucas’s Spanish skill by spending a month with a Spanish host family and going to school. After a serious teenager pushback and heavy negotiation (and my luck that Japan was closed to visitors), he was off to Malaga in southern Spain – and we were all going to pick him up and then drive around Spain a bit. This was not a first for anyone – him flying solo to Europe or us doing Spain or Europe with 3 kids.


The immersion & teenager traveling alone

He softened up a lot since I booked it – and was probably excited to go (admitting it would be a betrayal of the teenage code of “I hate everything my parents came up with”). Nervous at the airport about the transit and what a horrible “mom cooked up” adventure is awaiting him at the end of the flight. Probably seriously questioning his slacking off in the past 4 years in Spanish. Me – seriously questioning anyone who wouldn’t jump on the opportunity of spending half of summer on Spanish beach, without parents’ supervision. Until we get there.

Beginnings were a little rough – frantic texts while I was driving Mia to camp so in the middle of nowhere NC – “Mom, what is the address of the house? Who do I give the QR code to? Is my luggage belt to say Atl or Amsterdam? Who will pick me up?” Nevermind the huge folder of every document you could possibly need, organized by the sequence of need with nice yellow stickies on it that I curated for you – why bother if you can text mom while she is swinging through the backcountry USA with deer crossing her way. Once on the ground – things got quiet so had to poke and introduce phone as means of communicating with the homebase command center. Adjustment definitely not a problem. Here is what I got:

  • Apparently laws are a bit more lax in Europe than the US – not something I want to hear from a 16 years old – you know this how?
  • Curfew was for show only since host family was an old, widowed professor woman who had exchange kids in and out of her house regularly and was fine with it – I wasn’t so my iphone tracking skills elevated.
  • Roommate was her grandson, 7 years old supposedly – odd. Turns out he wasn’t. He was a French student, not 7 but 14 and went to the same school – that we figured out after a week.
  • Spanish skills suck (but that’s why he is there)
  • “Everyone thinks I am Swedish!” not a huge problem, embrace it, they are likely more liked than the Americans at this point
  • Very little pictures or calling – unless we ran out of money of course (note to yourself, Amex in Spain doesn’t work) but hey – public transport does, so forget the scooters.

Once pictures arrived, oops – black nail polish and supposedly “more to see when you get here, mom”. Again, not the message I am looking for. But honestly, unless it’s criminal – it is your body so pierce, tattoo, paint or whatever – just stay away from substances and stay safe. Apparently, I am setting the bar pretty low b/c the picture of earrings showed up next. Whatever, as I said – just stay safe and pick up Spanish, not a bad habit or some virus.

4 weeks later, the command center is flying in !