Deciding to study abroad is one big decision that brings lots of others of varying magnitude with it. Where to study; which classes to take; if, when, and where to travel…the list goes on and on. One of the choices that most affects daily life abroad, however, is your living situation.
IES Abroad Salamanca offers students the option to live in a homestay or in a residence hall. Both options are great, and while everyone’s experience is different and has its ups and downs, they are overall very positive and helpful to a student’s integration in their host culture.
Now that enough time has passed for us to become accustomed to our living situations and see how they have shaped our daily lives here, I’ve asked some of my fellow Spring 2014 participants for feedback, and here are some of their responses:
-Suzanne, who lives in the residence hall, likes having her own space. (Students in the residence do not have roommates, though they do share kitchens.) She also enjoys cooking dinner every Sunday with other students in the residence and has found it interesting to learn to shop in the markets here and note the differences between foods here and in the US.
-Emily loves the home-cooked food in her homestay and being able to practice Spanish and learn more abut the local culture with her host family.
-Ray finds her conversations with her host mom to be a great way to have spontaneous conversations in Spanish, which she says “promotes socialization” into the culture by removing barriers to interactions with locals.
-Several students agree that living in a homestay makes life here simpler because your food is already budgeted for and they don’t need to take the time to change their bedsheets each week or prepare every meal for themselves.
-Kyle points out that some schools (like his) don’t allow their students to live in the residence but adds that were he given the choice he would still have opted for a homestay.
-Carolyn appreciates having a host mother and a host father, (everyone’s host family structure is different; for example, I live with a widow whose daughters and granddaughter visit her on weekends, while some students have host siblings and even pets) which she says makes her feel more at home and as if she is a part of a family. Her host parents have been a couple since they were 14 years old and she enjoys the dynamic between the pair.
When the time comes to make housing decisions students fill out a survey about their preferences, likes and dislikes when it comes to housing, and if the initial placement doesn’t work out there is a period when changes can be made, so if you’re planning to come to Salamanca you can rest assured that your experience will be a good one. Think about what you most want to get out of your homestay or residence experience when deciding which option is best for you.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I am a junior at Bowdoin College, where I am majoring in Spanish and minoring in Art History and Teaching. I'm outgoing and inquisitive, and getting to know other people is how I make sense of this mixed-up and beautiful world. My favorite hobbies are baking bread, playing ukulele, and camping. I love exploring new places and am looking forward to getting to know Salamanca as well as the fun and challenges I'll encounter in my travels around Europe.</span></p>