Please use water and electricity sparingly (as it is expensive).
Show interest in your host family and always try to make the first step in communicating with the family members.
Noisy conversations are not due to maliciousness, but due to temperament. Maybe the family members might speak at the top of their voices because the simple reason is that they probably think you didn’t get a word/sentence acoustically right. If they are shouting to you this should not bother you at all. These families are usually quite communicative.
Please don’t hide yourself in your room. In Spain it is used as dormitory but not as living room (therefore it is also very small).
Never open any cupboard or fridge, even if host family invites you to do so. These are quite delicate areas. Never take away anything to eat. However, you might ask if you could place something to drink into the fridge and take it whenever you would like to. You will see on the other hand that host family opens your wardrobe, for example in order to place your clothes in the host mother´s way or simply to re-arrange everything in order to show you that they are serving you!
Don´t change the kind of board you have chosen. Never accept host family´s invitation to participate in a meal you did not book. If you do so, you must contact IEMA office in order to change your kind of board or compensate host family inviting them one of the following days for a dinner.
Never talk to your host family about money as this will for sure create problems. If you have to pay for any additional services, you could put the money into an envelope and leave it on your bedside table. However it is more recommended arranging all questions of money with IEMA secretary.
If you are over 21: Feel free to ask your host family if they accept you bringing back a bottle of Spanish wine for lunch/dinner sometimes (and, of course: invite them to drink from the bottle…). Usually they drink water from the water pipe or fountain, and alcohol in the bars.
We ask you to talk to our staff immediately if there are any problems (generally based on linguistic and/or intercultural misunderstandings). Especially if you are a minor always communicate with our office. As we are an international team in the administration we understand you much better. If you in spite of all information provided in FAQ should continue to have problems, please contact our office and remain in contact with us until your problem is resolved. Please don’t call your parents because they are not present and therefore unable to understand the situation adequately, even to solve the problem from outside Spain.
It is very difficult to filter out the real meaning of the Spaniard’s words – Spaniards generally hide their messages in a huge context (“high-context communication”, see Edward T. Hall and Mildred Hall “The Hidden Dimension”) you only will understand properly if you read between the lines. It is practically impossible for you to communicate 100% perfectly, as in addition to the linguistic problems you must know about the new cultural ambience, and, more: you must be aware that, at least unconsciously you are applying your own criteria and values, you must learn the techniques of how to act in the new intercultural situation which is created every time when you communicate with your host family. - Don´t worry! You come, because you want to learn, right?
The reasons why there are hardly any conflicts between the students and the host families are not only the families’ experiences, but also “pacienca” (patience) on both sides and the families’ diligent supervision on the part of IEMA administration. Indeed, IEMA´s largest amount of energy and time is dedicated to communication with the host families, as it is here where our students struggle with the biggest problems of adaptation. Trust in our preparation of your programme and contact us whenever any doubt arises, it can only be positive for your experience in Spain.
Please act on our advice seriously and you will not only benefit from your stay in Avila but also make friends for a lifetime!