The study-abroad student's total immersion in Spain begins within the home... the home in which he or she will reside while embarking upon what can be the most exciting, educational and maturing adventure of his or her life. It is in the home that students can most benefit from the opportunity of living the language, and learning the culture of the host country.
Knowing the great importance that housing plays in the learning process of the study-abroad student, the ICS very carefully selects each of its homes and residences so that students will not only learn the most amount of Spanish possible while they're in Seville, but so that each housemother and her family will go out of their way in making their guests feel comfortable in their home away from home.
All student housing in Seville is in private homes. There are no rented apartments and dorms do not exist. In Seville all program housing is in private homes throughout Seville – be it in a residencia or in a homestay and almost always this is in apartments. There is no difference in the physical structure of the lodging between what we consider a homestay or a residencia.
In a family, there are usually more Spanish house members - a couple, children etc. There is usually more activity in the household and mealtimes afford more interaction with the family members since in Spain most families eat together everyday. This option also includes meals, laundry, cleaning and students are expected to follow the same rules as in a residencia. We only house 1-2 students in a family situation. Usually students who stay with families tend to learn more Spanish (though this isn´t always the case).
Andalusians are gregarious and the family is of paramount importance. In addition, they are known historically for their tolerance and easy-going manner, particularly with foreigners. For these reasons and many more it is easy to understand why most ICS students sign up to live with a Spanish family during their stay in Seville. The majority feel they actually become part of the family, accepted as another member.
Living with a "typical Sevillian family" has its many advantages. By observing and taking part in the family's daily customs and practices, students find themselves increasingly becoming more immersed in the culture. What better way to learn about a people than by sharing meals with them on a daily basis? As one student recently commented,
"The highlight of many days in Sevilla was the afternoon meal and several hours of conversation with my Spanish hosts.”
The families who work with the ICS can consist of a married couple, with children; a single woman (separated, divorced, widowed), with children; or an older couple whose children do or do not live at home. Generally open and extrovert, Andalusians tends to make family living a vociferally fascinating experience. As a rule of thumb, the more house members a family has the less "toned down” it will be. Voices, televisions, radios, conversations, etc. are generally louder in Seville than in most homes in the U.S. To the expression "The more, the merrier”, Andalusians tend to add "And if it's louder, even better.” When there are fewer people living in the home, there also tends to be less commotion.
The ICS recommends that students carefully consider the type of family living arrangement they truly wish to encounter before coming to Seville. The following questions can serve as a guideline when choosing the family that will best help each student in attaining his or her personal objectives for the semester:
While all families offer the same cultural and linguistic advantages, students may feel more comfortable in one situation over another. To see the different possibilities that ICS families offer, it is best to contact the ICS Housing Director, Ms. Gina de los Santos, once preparations for the semester in Seville begin. Students, however, should be aware that families cannot be "made to order”. Thus, some flexibility is expected on their part as well.
ICS families live in different neighborhoods situated throughout the city and the living accomodations of ICS students are similar to those of Spanish students. The ICS collaborates only with those homes that are located within a reasonable radius of the school. Some homes are found in the same small neighborhood of "El Porvenir”. And while others are not as close, they are at a walking or short bus/bike ride's distance. Fortunately, for these students, transportation is never a problem. The municipal bus service in Seville is reliable and fairly inexpensive. Equally, the municipal bicycle service is inexpensive (see section on Transportation Within Seville). Students who do decide to use these services during the semester should calculate this expense into the total of their semester budget.
Like their European counterparts, most Spaniards live in apartment buildings. Although many families have homes in the countryside or on the beach, daily life is spent in a much less reclused manner. Depending on the part of town where the family lives, their homes may be as modern as any U.S. apartment, or may be remodelled from an original communal villa built decades or even centuries ago. Each, of course, has its own charm and advantages.
While living with a Spanish family, much of the closeness the student eventually finds depends largely on how much integration he or she works for. The housemothers are always willing to help, and are pleasant as long as there is mutual respect and a desire to give the situation a chance. One must remember that while Andalusians are open and extrovert, they are also proud and individualistic people. There are few things housemothers love more than an interested student who inquires about life in Seville. The more interested they see students in their city and culture, the more effort they put in trying to make the student feel at home. In general, ICS housemothers are flexible and try to adapt to the different students' personalities. They are willing to make meal hours fit the student's academic schedule and try to serve the Spanish foods he or she prefers. The more flowing the relationship, the better the housemothers feel.
In a residencia, there is usually just one Housemother/Landlady or a couple who lives with you and takes care of your needs. All housing is supervised and there is always someone living with you.
We house anywhere between 2 - 5 students in one residencia; the average number of students per residencia is about 2-3 (meaning usually only 2-3 live in total in a residencia situation, all from our program usually). As a rule, the less students grouped together, the better for cultural immersion.
Students have no curfew etc. but are expected to respect meal times, laundry days etc. established by your housemother. Although on the whole, interaction tends to be less in this situation (and students tend to speak more English on a daily basis since there are more students), how much interaction you have with your housemother etc. depends on you and the personality of your housemother as well. Some students even consider there residencia like a family in the end because of the close relationship they have developed with their housemomother.
This living arrangement is more for the student who prefers less one-to-one contact with a Spanish family. This option should not be confused with living in your own apartment, which is not permitted, or living in a dormitory, which does not exist in Seville. Students should note that there is adult supervision in this situation, as in all ICS housing.
In a supervised residence, in addition to there being less interaction between the student and the host family there typically is also a greater number of students housed there. One can say that there is more of a student atmosphere than of a typical Sevillian family. Residences typically house three to five students.
When there is a specific dietary requirement, notification must be made to the ICS Housing Director at least one month PRIOR TO ARRIVAL in order that she can attend to that request. We must emphasize this point, as most Spanish families are not used to cooking meals that are vegetarian, kosher, or any other kind of meals which veer from typical Spanish cuisine. One must remember that the gastronomy of a country is part of the cultural experience. It is the student who is expected to adapt, not the housemother. Students should not expect to eat just like they do in the States.
Meals and meal hours in Spain are different from those in the United States. Breakfast is a small meal of toast or pastry and coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Lunch is served between 2:00 and 3:00 and is the largest meal of the day. Dinner is served after 8:30 or 9:00 and generally consists of a sandwich and fruit, soup and omelette, or some other kind of light meal. For further information regarding Spanish cuisine and meal hours, see section on Spanish Cuisine.
In-between meal snacks are not served. And students should not asked to be served something that is expensive. Requesting them of the housemother will only make her feel uncomfortable. Those students who wish to purchase foods not served can be given storage space in the kitchen. Further usage of the kitchen is deeply frowned upon. In almost all situations, the housemother feels that the kitchen is entirely her domain and she would rather that anyone not use it while she's not there.
Special housing requests.
Students with special housing requests (vegetarians, no pets, no smoking, etc.) must advise the ICS at least one month prior to arrival. Single rooms may be requested but cannot be guaranteed. They are assigned on a first come first serve basis at no extra housing cost.
You can reach the Housing Director, Ms. Gina de los Santos, at the ICS in Seville at 011-34-95-423-3838 from 8:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. local Spanish time, or at the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Special requests can not be guaranteed, but everything possible will be done to accomodate the student.
Living outside ICS housing.
Students who wish to live outside ICS housing are permitted to do so ONLY if they are to live with family or relatives in the city. Students in these circumstances must notify the ICS at least one month prior to the beginning of the program. The student must present the ICS a formal letter of invitation written by the family with whom he or she would like to live. This letter must indicate the address and phone number of the home. Any student who fails to present this letter at least one month prior to the beginning of the program must remain within designated ICS Housing.
Students are not permitted to live in apartments on their own.
No exceptions made.
For questions, concerns or requests regarding housing arrangements, please contact Ms. Gina de los Santos,
ICS Housing Director at email@example.com.
A $100 refundable rent deposit is included in the total charges of the program. The deposit is dispersed in one of two manners: 1) It is paid to the housemother in compensation for the student's having caused damage to the bedroom or house; or 2) It is returned to the student during the last week of the program.