Before my gap-year experience one of the scariest thoughts I had was “What if I have a terrible host family”, especially since during my first abroad experience my host family was a touchy subject, but grace allowed me to be blessed with one of the best. One significant characteristic of my host family is that they do not have any kids. This set me apart from quite of few of the other fellows. Instead, I was given a crazy unpredictable Rottweiler brother named Dorji, who’s name isn’t Indian, but Bhutani. I have two lovely host parents named Dhananjay and Manasi Hulge who have, to my luck, treated me like their own daughter. My host family has been a significant compliment to my gap-year, and they have indeed impacted me in a great way.
Coming from a family full of many siblings and cousins I was always thrown in the chaos of things, which made being a member of Hulge family even more special.Having the opportunity to be away from that chaotic film play for 7 months has given me an opportunity to grow and observe. I was introduced to a new quiet and peaceful environment I was not use to before (unless you count Dorjis random barking fits of protection when he hears the outside gate open). It provided me with an environment for self discovery, meditation, and reflection. This was the best environment for growth and maturity. Although, I will not have crazy sibling stories, I will have many crazy Rottweiler stories.Another significant thing about my host parent’s home was that there was not one TV in the house because my host dad Dhananjay believes that TVs not only waste time, but they take time away from spending time with loved ones, which I completely agree with.
One of my most memorable moments with Dhananjay and Manasi was teaching them how to play the game of Uno. I bought the game for them on Christmas, but we did not play with the cards until months later, and when we did it became a night full of a never ending uno games and many laughs. Dhananjay was the first to win and then Manasi and I continued with our never ending battle. Manasi eventually won. This night was significant because I received the opportunity to share a game that meant a lot to me during my childhood. The game of Uno summons many memories for me and I am happy I was able to add my host parents to that pool of memories.
Additionally, the Hulge’s did a very great job making me feel included in their family, which I imagined would be a lot more difficult than they made it. They always allowed me to invite other fellows over while also letting me know that their home is my home and always will be. The Hulges also fostered a very family oriented environment by inviting me to and including me in almost all of their family functions big and small. From the many dinners to my host mother’s cousin brother’s (a term you’d only understand in India) wedding I have alway felt apart. I was shown a new definition of family through being able to be present for and observe how my host family interacts with their family. Their bond and closeness is inspiring, especially coming from a family with different standards and meaning concerning the word ‘family’.There were other times where they even brought me with them to functions with their close friends. The Hulge’s always made me feel like I am family. I have been blessed because of their modern views and inclusiveness to the point that I will always be apart of their family along with the other fellows they have hosted. Together we make one big global family!
The host family experience, for me, has been a very rewarding part of my gap-year experience. If I were not given and blessed with such a welcoming and understanding host-family many of my in-country experiences would have been a lot different. It was the family group chat entitled, “Alexis’s Family”, the late-night ice cream chats, the sharing of my apprenticeships experiences, the talks full of wisdom given by my host dad, and the constant support that helped keep me grounded during my gap-year experience. Even though I did not meet my language goals, nor did I have the best apprenticeship experience, I hold strong to the fact that I have established a golden connection and beautiful relationship with my host parents (Dorji my Rottweiler brother included). The Hulges are the host family I always dreamed of.