In order to give members of the group the best opportunity to come into close contact with Spanish life, each student lives with a Spanish host family. This arrangement is considered one of the most important features of the Hamilton College program. All homes have been visited and carefully inspected before being chosen, and every effort has been made to ensure that each family has a sincere interest in getting to know American students. Only those hosts receiving high recommendations from former students are retained from year to year.
To aid in placement, students are asked to fill out a confidential housing questionnaire. Students are expected to conform to the schedule established by the head of the household. Lunch (usually served between 2:00 and 2:30) and dinner (normally served between 10:00 and 11:00) are taken with the Spanish family. Students are expected, under normal circumstances, to remain with the Spanish family during their entire stay in Madrid. Although the program does not provide room and board during winter and spring vacations, students may remain with their Spanish families during these times if they themselves make special financial arrangements with the head of the household, entailing payment of one half of the lodging fee normally paid by the program while classes are in session.
“Living with a host family was the best way to learn about the Spanish culture firsthand and improve my language skills. My host mother and grandmother always supported and cared for me while letting me have independence throughout my year abroad. I will never forget when my host mother told me at the end of the year that I was like her second daughter.
- Mary Thede '15, (academic year ‘13-’14)
Every home is equipped with wireless internet. Computer access is provided as part of the program by the HCAYS center, but most students also come with a personal laptop computer, for which wireless internet can be found throughout Madrid. All homes are located within walking distance from public transportation.