Students have many living arrangement choices for studying at Salamanca University.
For a functional bedroom, you can pay rent for an apartment, you can stay with a family (or "house mother") or you can live in a hostel or a dorm. Most of these choices are between 10 minutes to a half hour away from the school.
Students who chose apartments bragged about the independence of coming and going, the freedom of privacy and the ability to eat what and whenever they wanted. One local expert -- a waiter -- shared that the classified sections of newspapers are the best way to go for the most inexpensive deals.
The school arrangements will have you paying upwards of 600 EU or more per month, however, you can rent a place for between 200-250 EU per month, at this writing. There are nearby supermarkets where you can buy plenty of food for a fraction of a contractual arrangement costs for a house mother arrangement.
Students that opted for hostels offered similar feedback as apartment dwellers about the ability to control their day, eat healthy and enjoy privacy, although there were some complaints about the tiny bare hostel rooms.
As for living with families, positive experiences -- from rich gourmet meals to beneficial relationships with the house mothers were described. Lots of great stories. But not always.
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune was experienced by other students who were living with "mala gente" house mothers. Complaints varied from having no privacy, no hot water, noisy neighbors that regularly interrupted studies, to stories about a lack of decent daily nutrition.
With the hardships caused by Spain's economy, the money is paid in advance for meals to be prepared by house mothers (which represent at least two thirds of the student's daily nutrition). But the house mothers may use those funds to pay other bills. Students are usually barred from the kitchen and these meals by some house mothers can be reduced to a monotony of potatoes and broth for dinner or perhaps a yogurt or orange for breakfast.
Some students also complained that old meats were served and said they had gotten sick from meals. Having your laundry done by a house mother might be as much as 20 Euros per load.
House mother living arrangements seems to be from some century gone by. The need for chaperone arrangements may be moot these days and house mothers can affect your interest in having any friends visit.
Moreover, the student lifestyle of Salamanca doesn't always fit well with the times meals are served by most housemothers -- strictly at 2 or 9 pm. In effect, you might feel imprisoned without guests and with scheduled meals. One benefit cited for living with a house mother is that because they don't speak English, you do get more exposed to the language.
Today, this is a business arrangement is formed through the university. The school staff will check in with the house mother regularly, but students are never afforded regular outreach to see if things are going well with house mothers. What if there are safety or health and cleanliness code issues going unmonitored? What if a housemother has a cold or flu but insists on handling your food, or she is too sick to clean?
If you choose to live with a house mother, be sure to make your dietary requirements clear or you may find yourself in a very uncomfortable circumstance where hygiene and good nutrition has not been not learned or understood by the person preparing your meals. Otherwise, in the end, you could resort to seeking meals in restaurants in Euro amounts that you paid out before you left home.