FAQ: Preparation for Living Abroad
What will living in another country be like?

Although everyone's experience studying abroad is different, most students find that they face many challenges and rewards from studying abroad. Read your Student Handbook to find detailed information on cultural shock, cultural norms, and practical tips and information.

When do I receive information on housing? How is placement determined and/or my family chosen?

Housing information is determined before the start of the program and is generally available about a week before the students leave for their program destination. All host families must first undergo an interview process with Spanish Studies Abroad staff before being selected to provide housing. Students fill out an evaluation at the end of each program which Spanish Studies staff takes into consideration during the next housing cycle.

Will Spanish Studies have specific information on my host family?

Most detailed information on host families is kept at our Centers overseas and is not available to us here at the U.S. office. Therefore, the Spanish Studies staff at the office in Amherst, Massachusetts can only provide students with the names, addresses, and contact information of their host families. After receiving this information, students may feel free to contact their host families independently to introduce themselves and to obtain more details on where they will be living. To prepare for living in a host family, read the Homestay section of your Student Handbook.

My application included a housing questionnaire. Will all my preferences be met?

While our Housing Coordinator tries to accommodate students' requests, we cannot guarantee that all preferences will be met. On the Seville program, there are very few opportunities for students to be the only Spanish Studies student in a home, so these placements will be given on a first come first serve basis. Housing in the Seville student residences is on a space-available basis.

In the interest of meeting your goal of cultural immersion, it is the policy of Spanish Studies Abroad not to pair students from the same school in the same homestay during our semester and academic year programs. The Center encourages students to set aside American friendships temporarily, and develop a special relationship with Spanish friends, family and culture. If you indicated on your housing questionnaire that you would like to live near a friend, our Housing Coordinator will do what she can to place you accordingly.

Should I bring a gift for my host family?

It is always a friendly gesture to bring your host family a small gift. This does not have to be something fancy or expensive. Typically students bring a small gift which reminds them of home. It is up to the individual student to decide what is best to bring.

What types of internships are available while I am studying abroad?

Internships are available while studying abroad in several different disciplines and are organized on a case-by-case basis. Students must first apply for an internship, using a separate internship application which includes references as well as an essay. The letters of reference and essay must be different from the materials provided in the student’s initial program application. If an internship application is approved, Spanish Studies staff then evaluates the needs and goals of the student and places them where they will be successful and gain experience in their field of choice.

Should I bring my laptop computer with me?

If you own a laptop computer, you may wish to bring it with you overseas so that you can use it for your studies abroad just as you do at home. However, you will obviously want to take extra steps to protect you computer against theft or damage. Naturally, you should never leave a laptop unattended in a public location.

Will there be wireless internet at the Center/host university?

Wireless internet is available in select locations at each of the centers in Spain and Argentina where Spanish Studies currently maintains active programs;  in Cuba you will need to purchase Wi-Fi internet cards at about $2 for one hour. Staff in each site will be able to provide useful information regarding where wireless signals are most easily accessible.

Will I be able to participate in sport activities? Are there opportunities to play a musical instrument?

Yes. As is probably the case in your home city, there are a variety of local community groups and organizations dealing with sports and music in each of the cities where Spanish Studies Abroad programs take place. If you are studying at a host university with Spanish Studies, you will have access to all of the resources available to students at the university.

Spanish Studies personnel abroad can provide a wealth of information regarding these possibilities and students are encouraged to discuss their interest with the staff upon their arrival to investigate further options. If you have questions about a specific type of sporting or music organization overseas, you may contact our U.S. office to see what information we are able to provide prior to your departure.