What is living with a Spanish Family
Yes, most likely. And that’s a good thing, since the purpose of the program is total immersion in the Spanish language and culture. Families may have children that know some English from school, but your expectation should be that families speak little or no English. This of course has the potential to create extremely funny situations. The important thing is to take everything with a sense of humor. It is possible to communicate and make your needs, wishes, etc. known to a family having little or no prior Spanish background. Centro MundoLengua’s own program director started his studies in Spain – with no previous knowledge of the language – by living with a Spanish family.
You might find it a little strange at first, but in Spain just about everyone lives in apartments. Space is at a premium. The homes are within walking distance to the school, and/or along the route of a public bus going in the direction of the school. They are clean, comfortable, middle class apartments providing the usual comforts of life. You’ll have full room and board (3 meals per day) and laundry services once per week. Families provide company, conversation, and the warmth of a “home-away-from-home” environment. Our families enjoy receiving foreign students and are very hospitable.
The first meeting might be somewhat awkward for you. Students are often nervous before meeting the people that will be involved in their lives during the following weeks. A few words of advice: relax, relax, and relax. If you’re arriving to Spain as part of a group, our families will be waiting with a Centro MundoLengua coordinator to meet students at a central location in the city. Our coordinator will introduce you to your family (note: in Spain the customary greeting is two kisses – one on each cheek). Then you’ll go with your family to the house; once there, you can unpack, unwind, and get settled. If you’re an individual traveler (i.e., arriving without a group), a Centro MundoLengua coordinator will meet you at the airport/bus/train station and take you by taxi directly to your house, where your family will be waiting for you. As with all new situations, it takes time to adjust. Be patient and understanding. In no time at all, you will be feeling right at home.
We try to place students in homes where there are children of a similar age, but it’s not always possible. Although we do have some families where you will have a mom and a dad, many families consist of middle aged women who have in many cases lost their loved one and have older children living outside the home. Taking on students is a way of reconnecting and being able to share with our younger students. Given the closeness of Spanish families, even if you’re not living with other siblings your own age, you’ll most likely will meet the entire family as they drop in for dinners, lunches, weekends, etc. Spanish families are very close and this is common.
Some families do and some don’t. Those that do are likely to have small dogs or birds. If you’re allergic to any pets, let us know on your registration form.
As with all things, we try our best to fulfill the wishes of students to be placed in non-smoking homes, but it’s not something we can guarantee. In families where somebody smokes, usually this person will try to respect the fact that you view smoking differently, and will adjust their behavior accordingly, whether by smoking less in the home, smoking outside on a balcony, or only smoking in designated areas of the home. If a family member’s smoking bothers you, make your complaint known to our program coordinator. We will contact the family to discuss the issue and look for an equitable solution.
In most families, you will be sharing a room with another student from the program (you can choose your own roommate). If the room is large enough, three students may be sharing the same room, though the norm is two students per room. Almost certainly, you will also have to share a bathroom, not only with the other students living in the home, but also with some family members. Homes are often modest-sized apartments with limited space. You should remember that you are now part of the family and thus you should be mindful of the amount of time you spend in the bathroom, length of showers, etc. Welcome to another aspect of living in a Spanish family!
It might be the case that your family is also housing a student from another program. It isn’t that uncommon, and it works out fine; Centro MundoLengua maintains strict control to ensure that your home runs like the other Centro MundoLengua homes. If you find there are too many students in your home and you feel uncomfortable, communicate this immediately to our program coordinator. We will deal with the issue directly with the family.
You should aim to have the majority of your meals with your family: it’s the best way to sample authentic Spanish food and – more importantly – to integrate yourself into family life. And the more you integrate yourself into the family, the more you will find your family investing time and energy in your development as a Spanish speaker and international citizen. That said, there are reasonably-priced restaurants, outdoor fruit markets, etc. As you make new friends, you’ll want to try some meals out on the town. This is perfectly fine and normal. So if you’re not going to be eating with your family on a particular afternoon or evening, you should call well ahead of time to let your family know – the night before if at all possible.
You will have laundry service once per week. This includes washing one load of clothes per week, including your bedding.
Normally, your family will give you a set of keys so you can come and go freely. It is extremely important to not lose your house keys. If you lose the house keys and the family decides it is necessary to change the locks, you are responsible for all costs involved. And changing locks in Spain can be expensive. Please take care with your belongings to avoid unnecessary problems later.
Your family will provide you with towels and sheets, and, in accordance with the laundry service they offer, they’ll wash them once per week. If you use washcloths, you might want to bring some, because Spaniards’ linens typically do not include washcloths. You should also bring a beach towel.
It is a good idea to bring some small gift to your family. They’ll enjoy receiving all kinds of souvenirs of your hometown or region (calendars, photos, cards, etc.).
Absolutely. If you are travelling with a friend and want to be in the same family, please include a note indicating that on your registration form. Have your friend do the same.