One of the program's main objectives is to integrate students to the Spanish society. We feel that a well-placed student will benefit most of his or her experience abroad. The Program assists students in finding housing either Spanish host families or in residencies. Access to the latter is somewhat restricted depending on available space. Students indicate their preferences on housing and every effort is made to accommodate them to their choices. Full year students have the option of moving into shared apartments during the second semester of their stay.
Prior to arrival, students are informed of their housing situation and address as well as the expenses entailed. Students pay their housing directly. One must remember that living expenses in Madrid are high and the program tries to find reasonably priced housing.
Once in Spain, the Program Asssitant monitors their stay and helps students with their adjustments. If the housing placement is not satisfactory, the student is helped to find a new location.
HOUSING IN HOST FAMILIES
Most Spanish students in Madrid live with their families while they are students. Thus, GU students choosing to stay with a host family will parallel the situation of their Spanish peers. By living with a host family, they will have the opportunity to learn about Spanish culture on a daily basis: family dynamics, foods, space issues, etc. Though they must be aware that they are guests in the home, they often become quite close to the family members. Students must adapt to basic cohabitation norms but will also enjoy a lot of freedom in their leisure time. Students are not expected to do babysitting or other chores and do not have curfews.
All students should have their own room and receive two meals daily. Homes have internet access. Only one GU student will be placed per family and hosts are asked to not have other students from English-speaking countries to ensure that Spanish is being used continuously. They may lodge other foreigners or Spaniards in different rooms. Most students confirm that most of their Spanish speaking is done in the home and feel it truely reinforces the use of the language.
"Families" vary from single professional women to full families (couples with children and or grandparents). Almost all the families live in very central locations in Madrid. Those that are not that central usually compensate this by their excellent relationships with our students. All families live near a subway stop.
One of the many positive aspects of the family is their personalized attention to our students. This is especially appreciated at the beginning of their stay (when students have not yet developed many friendships) or when they are ill. Also, families are usually very accommodating to food restrictions, though we urge students to try to be adapt to the Mediterranean diet. Participants requiring special food needs would do better in families without children since host parents will be more open to prepare special foods. If food restrictions are many, we suggest students choose a family offering kitchen rights and cook their own meals. This option is very limited, but does exist.
|Host mothers and fathers at 25th anniversary celebration|
HOUSING IN RESIDENCE HALLS
Residences and dorms are somewhat restricted in availability for Spring students because of the Spanish academic calendar. In Spain, universities have a stronger year-long emphasis so there is less student mobility. We also limit the number of GU students placed in each residence to promote more integration with their Spanish peers.
Residences range from large buildings hosting a couple hundred students to individual flats with 8-10 students. These private residences are not found on university campuses but rather in the city (since actual university dorms have restricted access). Each residence has its own rules, services and prices. Students will be informed of these before committing to a placement. Normally students take all three meals a day, but fewer meals may be negotiated. There is little flexibility for students with food restrictions. There are also some residences with kitchen rights where students cook their own meals. Most students live in either a single or double room.
Residences usually host students in their early 20's, though many may be older students studying for State exams. Thus, there is usually a mix of students studying at different universities, different levels or attending other academies. Since not many Spaniards study outside their home cities, most students in the residences will be foreigners from other European countries or from the United States. Unfortunately it is hard to break away from other American students. Unless a students connects with a Spanish group, not much cultural o language learning will take place.
Program participants are not allowed to live in their own apartments, except in the case of full year students, that may opt to move into an apartment during the second semester of their stay, and following program guidelines.