Host-Family Experience

Saint Louis University students who wish to experience Spanish society and language to the fullest are encouraged to take part in SLU-Madrid’s Host Family Experience.

Our Host Family Experience (señora) gives you the opportunity to learn and experience day-to-day life in urban Madrid. No matter where your host family lives, you will find that Madrid is a relatively compact city and that public transportation is safe, fast, inexpensive and efficient.

The following services are included in all host family placements:

  • Wireless DSL internet access
  • Bed linens
  • Laundry services (European washing machines are small and dryers are not widely used). Laundry is done on a reduced basis. The señora will do two loads of laundry per student per week. We recommend you take all delicates to the dry cleaner.

SLU-Madrid cannot guarantee a student’s homestay, location, roommate preferences or that they will be hosted with more than one of their friends in the same host family. Apply early, as doing so allows you to select from a greater number of families in the host family database.

Host family housing arranged through the University is closed for Christmas and the Holy Week break. You must leave the host family home during these two holiday periods, although you may leave your belongings if you are returning to the host family after the holidays. 

Many families host two or three students and are located within a 20- to 40-minute subway commute from the University or within a 15- to 20-minute walk.

These families have years of experience working with American and international students and are keenly aware of what you need to watch out for. They’ll help you to get settled in and learn your way around Madrid, as well as help you with your Spanish-language skills.

Host Family Meal Options

The first step is to submit  your online housing application. Once your application is processed, which can take up to a few weeks, the housing coordinator will contact you to give you access to the SLU-Madrid host family database. You will be able to search using the following filters: location, the meal plan they offer, smoking, pets,and whether they accommodate students with dietary restrictions. You will be instructed to indicate three preferred families.

For fall students, the assignment process will take from April to June. For spring students, the process will take from October to December.

Regardless of the housing option you choose, you can still take advantage of SLU-Madrid’s cafeteria where individual food items may be purchased a la carte.

Half Room and Board (media pensión)

Half room and board means that breakfast and dinner are provided by the host family in the home. Half room and board does not include lunch nor the use of the kitchen facilities. You are responsible for the purchase of your own lunch. This is the most popular housing option because it provides flexibility to the student during the school day and on weekends.

Being in a Spanish home, you will experience full immersion in both language and culture. This includes  Spanish cuisine. A typical breakfast may be coffee or juice and toast. Spanish families eat lunch and dinner much later than in many other countries. Dinner is lighter fare and is normally served around 9 pm. You will arrange a time for dinner with your family once you are here.

If you have any specific dietary requirements, as soon you receive your host family's contact information, you must contact them directly to let them know. This request must be accompanied by a doctor's note. Your signed housing agreement serves as your informed consent to release information to the prospective host family.

Kitchen Privileges (derecho a cocina)

Placements with host families who offer kitchen privileges are limited. We strongly recommend this option to students with specific dietary needs prescribed by a doctor. The host family does not provide any meals nor any food to the students. You purchase your own food, use the host family's kitchen facilities, cook all your meals and clean up after yourself. While you may not spend as much time with your host señora as those who choose the half room and board option, you will still have the convenience of having a native Spaniard close by who can help you settle in and learn the ropes.

If you plan to choose this option, we encourage you to submit your housing application early, as placements with host families who offer kitchen privileges are limited.

Host Family Agreement

The environment with the host family is expected to be quiet and tranquil. The rules that apply to host-family assignments reflect this philosophy. You may come and go as you please; however, you are expected to show common courtesy and not disturb others after hours. Students must ask their host family for permission to bring visitors into their host family’s home. Guests should always be received in common areas and overnight guests are not allowed.