Are you planning to come to Spain to study? If your answer is a clear “yes”, one of the things you will have to do is decide where you are going to stay. To do so, you will probably have to choose between one of the following types of accommodation:
- A shared flat with other students.
- An individual flat.
- Living with a host family.
The latter alternative sounds great. Doesn’t it?
But do you really know what a host family is, and what this experience is all about?
Read on and you’ll find out!
What is a host family?
A host family refers to one that takes in foreign students while they are doing a course in their hometown. This type of accommodation is popular among any students who come to learn Spanish in Valencia. You should also know that their mission is to provide an environment where the foreign student can feel at home and, therefore, feel confident to express themselves in Spanish.
The main reasons why host families take in students
These are the most common reasons:
- Enjoying each other’s company: Living with the new member of the household on a daily basis allows both parties to practise the non-native language in a relaxed environment, instead of an academic one.
- Enjoying the cultural exchange: Having a new foreign member in the family helps to enrich the intercultural relationship by learning and getting to know unknown aspects of the lifestyle and culture of other countries.
- Getting involved in the students’ experience: talking to them, showing them the city, doing activities.
In these cases, foreign students usually leave home after breakfast and come back for dinner, they talk with the host family and go to bed. At weekends, because there is more time, it is possible to plan an activity to encourage family-student contact!
What are the requirements to be a host family for foreign students?
Any family can be a host family: it can consist of one or two members (a mother and/or a father), with or without children. Age is not an impediment either (it can be an older or younger family).
- Having a room to offer: with its own bed, a wardrobe, and a table to study. The room can be single or shared with another student.
- Being able to offer basic services: food, cleaning, washing, etc.
- Teaching the student the Spanish culture: prepare some typical food, show them the city, offer conversation, explain the customs of the country or city, etc… The most important thing is for them to feel at home.
- Respecting the culture and customs of the student and the country they come from. The host family is involved in the coexistence and tolerance of other cultures.
In short, the most essential thing to keep in mind while being a host to a foreign student is to be respectful and polite to the student.
Tips for living with a host family
Now that you know what a host family is, you will surely want to come to study in our city and get to know the host families in Españolé.
If you still have any questions, we are here to help you take the plunge.
Pay attention to these tips to live and enjoy your stay with a host family:
- Remember to be nice to your host family. Even if they don’t know you, they will open the doors of their home and treat you like a son or daughter.
- Take an interest in their hobbies, tell them about your life, your classes, your classmates, what you’ve been doing every day. It will help you gain confidence!
- Don’t forget to be polite. A “good morning”, “thank you” or “see you later” will make your host family feel at ease with you.
Find a thoughtful gift for your host family
A small gift is more than enough: something that is typical of your home-country, such as a bottle of wine, for example.
Respect the rules and customs of your host
Every family has its own rules and customs, and you should respect both:
- Don’t forget to be clean and tidy.
- Don’t leave your dirty dishes in the sink. Be willing to help with household chores.
- Don’t make too much noise (loud music, talking on the phone…).
- Don’t bring anyone home without your family’s consent.
- Respect schedules and mealtimes
- In Spain, one of the most typical customs is to eat together as a family.
Eating lunch or dinner with your host family will show interest in nurturing your relationship with them. This time can be an opportunity to talk and discuss the day’s events – in Spain we are very talkative!
It’s a good time to practise your Spanish and learn new vocabulary, especially everyday expressions that don’t usually show up in books. Don’t be shy to speak!
However, if you ever want to have lunch or dinner with your friends, don’t worry! Nobody said you can’t have other plans. You come to learn Spanish, to enjoy this beautiful city and to meet new friends.
Just remember to let your family know when you’re going to go out and be late, so they won’t have to worry!
Enjoy the cultural exchange
Learn new customs and enjoy local foods.
With an open mind, you can learn a lot of things and enjoy the experience of living in another country with a host family a lot more.
At Españolé, your Spanish language school in Valencia, we will help you choose a host family adapted to your needs, so that you can enjoy this magnificent experience while you learn Spanish.
We are waiting for you!