Photo courtesy of Liliane Thiessen

Liliane Thiessen, in red, shares an apartment in Abbotsford, B.C., with Maria Paula Suarez from Colombia, left. Here they enjoy a meal out with friends.

Liliane Thiessen writes, I have been rooming with Paula, an IVEPer from Colombia, for a couple of months now and it is going great! I am not much older than Paula and living as roommates, instead of the more traditional host parent set up, has been a good opportunity for me to be involved with the IVEP program. Sharing the apartment works well, as we get along and it is in a perfect location. Living in an apartment as roommates still gives us the individual freedom to come and go as we want but also cultivate a friendship that will last.

Paula and I have gotten to know each other over the last few months and we have grown closer. We worked hard to start off our living situation on the right foot by intentionally talking to each other about what living with each other would look like. We took time to say both the things that we enjoyed about living with other people and also the things that might annoy us about living with other people. This helped us to avoid conflicts before they started. Having open lines of communication and intentionally checking in with each other is an important part of living together well.

It has been great to meet some of the other IVEPers through Paula and we are hoping to have them over for dinner more often. One weekend Paula and I hosted the IVEPers. Everyone came over and we went grocery shopping together. It was a good evening. Then we went to the Christmas market! It was rainy but a great night. We walked around, taking pictures. At one point, Paula got a picture with the Grinch. It was the cutest! Then after a while my friend came over to meet the IVEPers. So, we all spent time in our apartment talking, making spaghetti dinner and having a great time! 

It has been a lot of fun getting to know Paula and I look forward to making more memories with her! 

Maria Paula Suarez, from Colombia, is a pastoral intern at Ebenezer Mennonite Church, Abbotsford, B.C.