Host parents welcome Hajim student with open arms


During his study abroad semester in Madrid, Anis Kallel went to the top of the tower Faro de Moncloa, a 330 foot-high transmission tower with an observation deck at the Plaza De Moncloa, in Madrid, Spain. At left below, the Plaza Mayor near the Atocha metro rail station in Madrid.

When Anis Kallel ’17 applied to study abroad for the Fall 2015 semester, he narrowed his list to three countries: Australia, Spain and Singapore.

plaza“Eventually, I decided to go to Madrid, Spain,” said Kallel, an international student from Tunisia who is majoring in computer science and business.  “The main reason was that I wanted to pick up a new language, and to experience another culture by interacting with Spanish people and living with a Spanish host family.”

He definitely achieved both of those goals.

“Living with my host family was definitely the most eye opening experience,” Anis said. “When I arrived in Madrid, I barely spoke any Spanish and my host family did not speak any English, so the first few interactions were not smooth to say the least, but somehow we made it work.

“By taking classes and talking to my Spanish peers in class, I improved my Spanish significantly and was able to communicate more effectively at home. Because of this I had so many meaningful interactions with my host family.”

For example, when Tunisia won the Nobel Peace prize in October, Anis heard the news from his host dad “the minute it was announced. He rushed into my room and said: ‘Did you hear the news? Congrats!’ We then talked about Tunisian politics and economy for a while, and discussed the upcoming elections in Spain. I learned a lot about the political scene there.”

As an international student, Anis had already gone through the process of applying to study overseas and obtaining a visa. So he found the process of applying to study at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid “ incredibly easy . . .  The study abroad office was very helpful and answered a few questions I had. I got my visa on time to go.”

“I took 4 classes while in Spain. Two will count towards my computer science degree requirements, and the two others (hopefully) towards my cluster.”

Anis said the experience gave him “a new perspective on the Spanish educational system and what students think about the prospects of the Spanish education in general and computer science in particular.”

He was especially impressed by a conversation he had with his host mom.

“Before I left, I asked her why she would want to host students every semester, and her response was absolutely inspiring. She said that the world is very divided and full of hatred and fear, but that is because we don’t try to get to know people from different cultures and backgrounds on a personal level. She believed that by hosting a student each semester, she can contribute in her own way in bridging the gap between cultures and ideologies.”

host family

 Anis Kallel with his host mom and dad, with whom he had many meaningful interactions.