Studying abroad is a big adventure for many students. Whether it be for language and culture learning, or the opportunity to travel around a different country for a bit, many people are drawn to the excitement of a new country and the adventure that follows. After choosing a Spanish language learning program with Expanish, you might be wondering which housing option to choose. For a complete immersion experience, we recommend booking a homestay to integrate yourself into the Porteño or Catalan lifestyles and quickly improve your Spanish skills. For piece of mind, we’ve compiled a list of student homestay FAQs to help answer your questions or calm your nerves about staying with a local family.
What is a homestay?
A homestay is local housing, and sometimes meals, provided to students who are studying abroad in a foreign country. At Expanish, we offer homestays for our students both in Barcelona and Buenos Aires. All families are personally screened by our staff and most have worked with us for many years. All homestays are provided by local hosts and are located within 40 minutes of the school.
What Should I Bring?
Towels and sheets are provided by the host family, so just your clothes and personal items are needed for your time abroad!
Do I need to bring anything for my host family?
A local host welcomes our students into their homes and lives for their time abroad. For this reason, we usually recommend that students bring a small gift from their country or home town. Not only will your host appreciate the gesture, but it will give you the opportunity to discuss your home and culture with your new family. Check out these gift ideas for your host family.
Can I use the bathroom anytime I want?
Yes. Students have the option to choose between a private or shared bathroom. Private bathrooms are for the exclusive use of the student only. A shared bathroom may mean that you have to coordinate with your host family so as not to disrupt anyone’s normal schedule.
Can I do my laundry in the homestay?
Students who are planning on studying in Barcelona will have access to do their laundry in the homestay. Students in Buenos Aires are not permitted to use the laundry system in their homestays. However, laundry services are very common throughout the city and are usually pretty inexpensive.
Does my host family provide a maid service?
Your room will be cleaned once a week, however, students are expected to clean up after themselves when in the rest of the home. We kindly ask students to remember that they are a guest in someone else’s home and should treat that home with respect.
Can I iron my clothes?
Students may or may not have access to an iron in their homestay. For this reason, we recommend that students bring wrinkle-free clothes, or try to practice wrinkle-free packing habits.
What meals are offered through the homestay?
Students who elect a homestay will have 2 meals provided to them by the host family: breakfast and dinner.
What does “meal time” mean?
Meal time for a student in a homestay means sitting with your host family and eating dinner together. This is usually the time when students are able to put their Spanish lessons to the test when speaking with their host family. Meal time also means that students are able to learn more about the Argentinian or Barcelonian cultures and cuisine.
I have specific dietary restrictions, will my dietary needs be taken into consideration?
If you have any dietary restrictions, please notify our staff when registering for a homestay. We do try to accommodate any restrictions but please note that not all requests can be met.
I have allergies that may affect me during my stay, what do I need to do?
It’s best to notify Expanish staff before your arrival of allergies or any other medical needs that might be an issue during your time abroad.
My host said I should “help myself”. What does that mean?
Helping yourself should be taken on a very respectful basis. Remember, you are a guest in someone’s home. This doesn’t mean that you should help yourself to snacks or candy, but rather don’t be afraid to get yourself a glass of water or watch tv in the main area if no one else if watching.
Will I share my room with other people?
Only students who are traveling together and have booked together may elect the double room option. It may be possible that your host family hosts more than one student but you will not be sharing a room.
Can I keep the lights or TV on when I am outside the room?
We ask that all students turn off all lights and electronics when they are not in the room.
Can I play music or watch TV in my room?
Of course! Host families want you to be as comfortable as possible when staying in their homes. We do ask that students keep volume levels to a respectable level so as not to disturb their host families.
What can I do if I am too hot or cold in my room?
Notify your host if you are too hot or cold in your room. They may have additional blankets or will adjust the heating/cooling system accordingly.
What access do I have to the rest of the house?
Your host will set the boundaries for the rest of the home upon your arrival. You’ll usually have access to the rest of the home but it’s always good practice to ask your first day.
Can I bring alcohol to my homestay?
No. Wine may be accompanied with dinner however students are not permitted to drink other alcoholic drinks in their homestays.
Can I invite guests to my homestay?
No. Guests are not permitted in homestays, for your safety as well as the safety of the host family.
What if I want to stay out late?
As a courtesy, we recommend that students notify their hosts when they plan on staying out late, as most host families will worry if their students do not arrive at their normal time.
Am I allowed to bring my own pets?
No. Hosts may have pets but students are not allowed to bring along their own pets.
Can I smoke in the accommodation?
Students should discuss smoking with their host families upon arrival. Typically smoking inside the home is not allowed but host families will have a balcony or porch where students may smoke.
If I lose my key, what should I do?
Notify your host as soon as possible if you’ve lost the key. If the key is not found and no extras are available, you may be responsible for replacing the key or the lock system.
What happens if I lose any of my possessions?
We thoroughly screen all of our host families for safety, security, and comfort. However, if any of your possessions do go missing, we ask that you respectfully notify your host family as well as Expanish staff.
Am I allowed to use the telephone?
Students must discuss the phone policy with their host families.
Is there a curfew when staying in a homestay?
No. However, we recommend that students notify their host families if they plan on staying out late as hosts are like your real family and will worry if you don’t arrive home by a normal time.
Is there a minimum length of stay?
The minimum length of stay in a homestay is one week.
What is the minimum/maximum age?
There is no maximum age for students in a homestay, however the minimum age for Expanish students to reside at a homestay is 16.
Do I have to be a student to book a homestay?
Yes. Homestays are only available for students of Expanish.
Can I book a homestay with a private bathroom?
Yes. Expanish offers homestay options of either a private or shared bathroom.
Am I able to visit the home family before booking?
No. Due to safety reasons, students are not able to visit their homestay before the beginning of the stay.
When will I know my host family information?
Students will be notified of their host family information 2 weeks before the start of their program.
What if I want to extend past the initial period I booked?
Notify an Expanish staff member if you’d like to extend your stay with your host family. Sometimes the request cannot be met as host families usually have students booked back to back.
What are the check-in and check-out times?
Students are able to check-in to their homestays on Sundays after 12pm (noon). Check-out is on Saturdays before 12pm (noon).
Are utilities included in the weekly rate?
Yes. All utilities are included in the weekly rate.
What happens if I get sick while staying in a homestay?
If you are sick during your stay with a host family, it’s best to notify an Expanish staff member as well as your host. If additional medical attention is required, your host may accompany you to the nearest medical center.
What if I do not like living in the home I am placed?
While we do try our hardest to place students in homestays according to their requests, we also understand that putting personalities together to live under the same roof may cause some stress. There is an adjustment period for both hosts and students alike, and it’s best if students are patient and understanding during this time.
Is my homestay located close to the school?
Yes. All homestays are within a maximum of 40 minutes distance to the Buenos Aires school and a maximum of 30 minutes distance to the Barcelona school.
How does Expanish make sure the families are suitable?
Homestays with Expanish go through a rigorous selection process. During the selection process, an Expanish staff member will personally check out the home for quality, comfort, safety, and security. Most of the host families have worked with Expanish for many years, and as such have proven to be great hosts to our students.
Who will I be living with?
Students will be staying with a local host family, which could be a couple or a single host, with or without children.
Are there strict house rules?
It is up to the student to discuss house rules with the host family upon arrival. We recommend that students talk to the host as soon as possible to establish boundaries and show as much respect towards the host and their home as possible.