Cultural Tips & the Homestay Family

YOU, as an Ambassador

Beyond the classroom, the homestay experience will definitely increase your exposure to the relevant culture and will enhance your Spanish language skills. The homestay experience allows you in no way to escape the reality of the experience. You are deeply rooted into the local world and are forced to learn by constant exposure to Spanish and to the people.

You must realize that a fair amount of cultural adjustment and sensitivity will be necessary while living with your homestay family. Remember, you are the visitor and the responsibility for adjustment falls mostly on you.

While abroad, consider yourself a representative of your home country. You will be serving as an ambassador. Represent and carry yourself in the best possible way and you will definitely have a meaningful experience learning Spanish abroad.

Cultural Tips and Possible Unfamiliar Experiences

When you leave the table it is common to say “con permiso”. When greeting or saying good bye, it is most commonly done with a handshake, embrace or kiss on the right cheek. Making eye contact when speaking is also commonly practiced in Latin America and is a sign of respect. In Latin America and Europe shorts are saved for the beach and are not typically worn in the city. If you do not want to stand out as an American/tourist, then keep this in mind.

Whatever Spanish immersion program you choose, the fact is that the host country may be less developed than your home country. With this said, I would like to list a few things that may be unfamiliar to you while abroad, but should not scare or deter you from participating.

You may experience power failures for a short while; low water pressure; no hot water or short durations of hot water; different types of bugs; showers, but no bathtubs; different sounds, which may be louder than you are used to; different driving styles; sensitive plumbing; course bed linens (because of air/sun drying); no washcloths; different smells, and other unfamiliar things.

Depending on your location, you may feel tired the first few days if you are somewhere with higher altitudes or simply due to jet lag. Your stomach may become upset, while trying to adjust to different foods. We do recommend always drinking bottled water and consulting with your family physician before departing.

You may also become homesick and miss people, places and things. These feelings are perfectly normal. Just know that you can make international phone calls and emails from the school or homestay and talk to the primary contact person at the school about any concerns you may have.

In addition, a Spanish Por Favor representative can be reached 24/7 at the toll free number
1-800-699-9685 with any questions or comments.

The Homestay Family

This living arrangement is when the student lives with a native family, shares meals, facilities, and practices Spanish in a traditional and friendly environment. Homestays start on Sunday and end on Saturday.

While abroad and living with your family, courtesy and mindfulness is of great importance. It is a good idea to freely use “gracias” and “por favor” before and after you speak. "Thank you" and "please" show general respect and thoughtfulness when used and can show the listener that you care and are appreciative.

When living with the homestay family, communication and consideration is essential!. If you are going out to dinner or going to miss a meal, tell them your plans so they can make appropriate arrangements. If you’re out and your plans change, call your family and keep them informed.

Your homestay family will provide you with purified water (bottled, boiled, or filtered) and one to three meals a day depending on your choice of accommodations. You have the option to walk to school, take a taxi or bus. Some homestay families will take the student to school in their car, depending on the Affiliate Spanish Language School of choice.

What you should expect from your homestay family:
- a clean bedroom and bathroom
- sheets changed every week and towels changed every three days
- cooked meals that meet your specific dietary needs
- conversation and involvement
- adequate food including fresh fruit and vegetable
- safe drinking water
- a key to the house to come and go as you please
- opportunities to invite a student from the school for dinner, but please ask your family first

Things to avoid during the homestay experience:
- slamming doors
- doing laundry in the bathroom sink instead of the laundry sink
- leaving bathroom towels on the bathroom floor or using them to clean shoes or remove makeup
- putting your feet up on the furniture
- not informing the family of your plans (dinner, day or weekend trips planned, out-on-the-town, etc.)
- being late without calling
- taking a nap without removing the bedspread and shoes
- illegal drugs and excessive drinking of alcohol
- not informing the family of any medical conditions you may have
- being careless with the house keys (i.e. losing them)
- leaving doors unlocked
- wasting water while showering or brushing your teeth. Please save the water.
- making long distance calls without asking or taking too long on their phone (>30 minutes)

*Most of the above stated information may seem like common sense. We promise that if you follow these simple things, your experience with your homestay family will be fulfilling and meaningful.

We hope you enjoyed reading this month’s feature article. Next month's feature article is called, "Coming Home - Adjusting to Life in the States after your Immersion Experience".

We look forward to working with you and helping you find an immersion experience to fit your specific needs.

P.S. If you have any ideas about a topic you want to learn more about or want to know something about our company, please write to us and we will gladly make sure to respond promptly.





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