Some of you have opted for staying with a family. You will be staying in an individual room (unless otherwise agreed with our housing director), and will have three meals per day provided. In Madrid, it might be possible to opt for less meals per day. You also have reasonable laundry service for any dirty clothes (your host family will wash these for you). In Barcelona, you do have the possibility of staying with a host family. We work with a partner school who finds families for us. You are able to choose the regimen of meals that you want. Simply let them know. As well, they may be able to help with residence stays. Remember that our school is located near Plaza Catalunya and you will be responsible for getting to school. It is quite easy to use both the metro and bus in Barcelona for the longer distances. Please contact us for the contact person in Barcelona who will be happy to help you. You will pay them directly for this service.
Please understand that families are compensated for their participation in the program. This is not intended to be a “money making operation”, but rather an “ayuda”. It is imperative that you communicate with us immediately any problems (big or small) with your host family. Our housing director is in Seville and can resolve most problems very easily. Communication is key.
Some of you will have done study abroad back in college, but all should realize that the concept of family is somewhat different here and you should be prepared and maintain an open mind for these differences. Let´s talk about just a few differences:
- Food: Breakfast (around 8am-9am) usually consists of a simple piece of toast or bread with olive oil, jam, butter, etc. People often accompany this with a cafe, juice, or milk. If you prefer to eat at one of the many bars where you will inevitably see many Spaniards standing packed together eating in the mornings, you might opt for your tostada outside of the home. A morning routine is a tostada con jamón serrano, aceite de oliva y tomate y un zumo de naranja. This costs about 3-4 euros. Lunch is the biggest meal and usually consists of a starter salad or soup, followed by a meat or fish dish, and dessert. Water is completely safe to drink from the tap here and will accompany many meals. Lunch is usually served around 2pm-3pm. Dinner (served around 9pm-10pm) is a meal somewhat lighter than lunch. People do not tend to eat heavy meals for dinner. It is of course possible to eat out at the many restaurants that the cities have to offer. You will find every type of food and something for all budgets. If you are not eating with your family, it is important to let them know as soon as possible so they are not waiting with a meal prepared. It is also very important that you let your family know about your eating preferences on day one (vegetarian, vegan, etc.).
- Space: Forget about the concept of detached housing with backyards and alleys. People here are living in close quarters, normally in small apartments that are shared with an extended family. Room and home sizes will vary, but expect smaller and expect to share a bathroom with other members of the family. Also, do not expect air conditioning. If you are very hot, it may be possible to request or buy a fan, but you must check with your family first about leaving this on for extended periods.
People are extremely conscious about using electrical appliances, leaving lights on, etc., as electricity is expensive.
- Phone usage: Teachers are typically not permitted to use the phone at home to make calls. People use the public phones on the street to make calls. You can buy a simple phone card from any Estanco (where they sell tabaco, etc.) once you arrive. This might be your best bet as you are guaranteed that it will work. You might also buy a local SIM card for your mobile phone, if you bring one.
Some teachers might opt to buy phone cards from the states or abroad, but realize that usage of these cards might incur a cost while here. Cards that promise to be “toll free” often times are not, or simply do not work. Buying a phone card here will solve this problem (and cost you no more than 5-10 euros). You are allowed to receive calls at the home, but please let relatives know of the time difference when calling Spain.
We are also offering teachers the opportunity to purchase mobile phones before leaving their home country. Please let us know if you are interested in this service (alternatively, see www.piccellwireless.com/mundolengua). This is an unblocked international cellphone for a low fee, and could be quite useful for keeping in touch with friends, family members, etc. back home or here in Spain. You are under no obligation to purchase the phone, but we offer it as an additional service to make your lives easier.
You will receive a detailed description of your family before the program begins (about 2 weeks before). You are welcome to call them and introduce yourself. Remember to dial 01134 before the number if dialing from the states (0034 if dialing from Europe outside of Spain). You can also write directly to our housing director, Laura Aguilar : firstname.lastname@example.org. Laura speaks both Spanish and English fluently and handles all housing requests.
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