Living with a host family during your time abroad provides a unique perspective on study abroad that you can’t receive living in an apartment. Host families welcome you into their homes, help immerse you into the culture, cook you homemade meals, and provide a support system during your time abroad. If you’re studying abroad somewhere that living with a host family is an option, we recommend you do it! Don’t believe us? Just listen to what these students from USAC Madrid had to say about their host family experience.
“Living with a host family was one of the best decisions I could have made this semester. When I think back to the first day I was to meet my family my nerves were through the roof. Several what if questions were going through my head, but from the moment I met my host mom I knew it was going to be a great semester. From day one she has treated me like her own daughter and I feel right at home. Adjusting was probably the hardest thing for me, living with people I had just met, then having to go to school and study on top of that was a big challenge. I am very thankful to have been given such a great host family that will forever be a part of my life.” Taylor DeLung, University of Mount Union
“Living with a host family was the best decision I could have made for studying abroad. My Spanish family is so caring, kind, and generous. They have supported me so much through the difficulties of living in another country and language separate from my own and separate from family. One of my favorite memories was when they threw me a birthday party and after they sang me happy birthday, we all got together and had a jumping hug. We have had many jumping hugs throughout these past seven months between celebrating goals of Real Madrid to bringing in the new year and more. I thought the most difficult holiday to get through would be Thanksgiving but my friends Emilie, Raine, Silvana, Brooke, Giovana, Aimee, and I got together to help cook a grand Thanksgiving dinner for my family filled with laughs and delicious food. I feel so blessed to have my Spanish family. I will always remember mamá’s wisdom, love, and delicious cooking, Monica’s advice and excellent nail painting skills, MT’s laugh and caring spirit and Carlitos’s jokes, energy, and hugs. Almost every night before Carlitos goes to bed, he hides under his covers and we all ask where he is until we are all in his room then he pops out from under the blankets and we shower him with besos (kisses) and hugs to say goodnight. That is something I will always remember. There are a 1000 more tiny sweet memories, like walks through Retiro, concerts with my sisters, and all the celebrations of family and friends that could fill pages. I feel so lucky to have a family that makes loving them so easy and that will make it so difficult to say goodbye.” — Ashley Hellwinkel, University of Nevada, Reno
“When making the decision to live with a host family while spending my semester in Madrid, I had the idea that I would benefit from a higher level of Spanish immersion and perhaps learn more about Spanish culture/way of life. This could all be very exciting to think about – but also a bit daunting, as my Spanish wasn’t as advanced as others living with host families. However, all my worries were put to rest when I met my host parents. They have truly integrated me into their household and made me feel as if I am at home here in Madrid. For me, I can confidently say my transition into Madrid was much smoother because of the family atmosphere that was fostered within my homestay. Whether I was unfortunately coming down with a cold (twice) or seeking travel advice, it has been comforting knowing someone is here for me day in and day out. One of my favorite times thus far has been travelling to Southern Spain with my host parents and another fellow USAC student for a weekend trip. From trying fish fondue to exploring caves by the ocean, it made for one memorable trip. Looking back, I can’t imagine my semester any differently and I’m incredibly happy with the choice I made in deciding to live with a host family.” — Caroline Schwing, Texas A&M University
“Making the decision to study abroad was a huge decision and commitment, but one I knew I always wanted to make. I came to a country all by myself, knowing a basic understanding of the language, the culture, and the customs. This has been one of the more challenging experiences in my life, but some of my greatest supporters have been my host family: Elena, my host sister and Pura, my host mother. Going into this process, I did not expect them to have such a great influence on the daily support I needed. I love our family dinners, where we talk about each other’s days and I get to practice my Spanish. I appreciate how they have always been so patient with my Spanish and level of understanding and that they are not afraid to correct me. We have built a great relationship and if I ever have a question about a word, about the culture, about traveling, etc. they are always willing to answer it. I am so grateful for my host family. They are one of the fundamental reasons why I call Madrid home.” — Emile Portugal, University of Iowa
“It’s worth living with a host family because they get you in the Spanish culture, allow for constant practice of your Spanish and they become your family away from home. For example, all these reasons can be seen, the other night, when I watched the Real Madrid against Juventus, Champions League soccer game with my host family. First off, as a huge soccer fan, I knew the game was coming on and would watch it, but being with a family you understand just how much soccer is ingrained in the Spanish culture. This is seen by the way the whole household–parents and children–stop what they’re doing and come together to watch the game. Additionally, by the passion they have during the game, jumping and screaming. This also allows the practice of your Spanish in an informal way, as you watch the game and make remarks. Finally, at the end of the game, when Ronaldo scored the winning penalty kick , we all embraced and hugged and had a great family moment. In conclusion, it is worth having a host family for all these reasons and it’s fun!” — Erik Preedom, University of South Carolina
When researching where you’ll study abroad and determining your living arrangements, consider living with a host family. It’s a decision you won’t regret!