When you are booking an intensive Spanish course in Spain, one of the first things you are going to ask yourself (after deciding on the city and course of course) is: where am I going to stay?
All of our Spanish partner schools have a number of different accommodation options available, and we will go into more details about each type, with the advantages and disadvantages below.
The main two categories are the homestay, where you stay with a guest family, and a shared apartment, where you share with other students from your school.
The homestay option is the most popular option, especially if you want an immersive experience. You stay with a guest family, who are instructed to only speak to you in Spanish where possible. This forces you to use what you have learned in the classroom in a more relaxed environment, and hearing Spanish spoken all around you can only help your Spanish to improve even faster.
A homestay usually comes with half-board, and sometimes with an option for full-board as well. This means that you will dine with the family at their typical mealtimes. This does limit your flexibility somewhat, but with advance warning it is always possible to skip a meal, for example if you are participating in an evening activity with the school.
- It’s a truly immersive Spanish experience: forced to communicate with your host family in Spanish means that you will likely pick up more Spanish than the other students who are staying in an apartment or hotel.
- You will also get a great insight not only into the language, but also into the culture. Here you will learn more about customs, traditions and daily routines.
- (Authentic) meals included: your classmates might get jealous when you tell them about all the home-cooked, traditional meals that will further enrich your experience
- More support: the host family will be experienced in hosting foreign students, and can provide you with advice and guidance should you need it.
- A homestay is (sometimes considerably) more expensive than the other accommodation options, although you do not have to budget for meals.
- Less flexibility: you will have to adapt to your host family’s lifestyle and routine, especially when it comes to mealtimes. It is important to remain open-minded and respect their culture and house rules. Missing meals or staying out late is usually fine, just give your hosts advanced warning: it is not polite to miss a meal they have prepared.
- Limited privacy: compared with having your own private accommodation, living with a host family means sharing living space and the bathroom, leaving you with less personal space.
- Beginners in particular will struggle at first with the language barrier. Be patient and within the first few days these struggles will be long gone!
The second option that all schools offer is a room in a shared apartment. The apartments vary in size considerably, and you could find yourself sharing with anything from 2 to 5 other students. The other students will all be learning Spanish at the same school, but will not necessarily be on the same course.
The apartments come fully-furnished with a fully-equipped kitchen if you want to cook for yourself.
Shared apartment pros
- Be independent: compared with staying with a host family, you are free to come and go as you please, without having to give anybody advanced notice should your plans change.
- You might find yourself living with roommates from different cultural backgrounds, which is a great opportunity to learn about new cultures. If you are lucky enough, Spanish might be the only common language, forcing you all to use it to communicate.
- Staying in a shared apartment is generally the cheapest option
- You’re all in the same boat, learning a new language in a foreign country, which makes it easy to build friendships. Also there is always somebody else keen to explore the city with you or join you for some tapas!
Shared apartment cons
- You are responsible for all your own meals. If you can afford it, this is probably more of an advantage: you can enjoy all of the fine food Spain has to offer at all times of the day. If not, your first task will be to find the nearest supermarket and go shopping for the essentials for your first day.
- You will have to learn to compromise: whether it’s the cleaning schedule or queuing for the bathroom, there is always going to be potential for grievances. But don’t forget: this Spanish course should be an enjoyable experience, and with a little bit of compromise you are sure to find some middle ground.
Some schools also offer a third option: halls of residences. This could be considered a combination of the best parts of each of the other options: you have the privacy of your own well-furnished room (and sometimes also a private bathroom) but can also take advantage of up to three meals per day which are available at most residences.
These options can be more expensive again, and availability might also be an issue: these halls are normally only available in the holidays, when the city’s own students are not around.
Some of our schools also offer other options, such as private apartments where you can be completely at ease for the duration of your stay. This is by far the most expensive option, and you might be better off looking for alternatives that are a little cheaper on your own, especially if you are planning to do a long-term course.
But no matter what type of accommodation you choose: the experience you will have with Estudia-España will be unforgettable! So what are you waiting for? Book your Spanish course here!