Visiting Family Program

The Visiting Family Program (VFP) gives you the unique opportunity to dive into the experiences of families in the Lisbon area or its suburbs. SiPN will match you with a family with whom you will visit at least once a month during your semester-length stay.*

This VFP opportunity allows you to learn more about Portuguese culture as well as share your own. You will be a part of a wonderful intercultural exchange, which will help you build a network of friendships and contacts in Portugal!

Here are some fun activities that we have suggested to our visiting family volunteers students:

  • Engage in activities and day trips in Lisbon and the suburbs
  • Discuss cultural differences and ask questions
  • Meet extended family and participate in celebrations and events
  • Share cultural foods by cooking a meal together
  • Take part in various family routines
  • Visit the place of work of one of the members of the family

What Can I Expect by Joining the Visiting Family Program?

  • Communication is key! SiPN requires that all visiting family students are able to commit to making plans to see their visiting families at least once a month. Once SiPN has made the match and facilitated the contact, it is up to both parties to share the responsibility of meeting;
  • Some families ask to be matched with two students – so the Visiting Family Program could also present a chance to get to know another SiPN student;
  • Many visits with your visiting family can include meals, as this is a strong tradition in the Portuguese culture, as you will discover. It can be difficult to accommodate students who have dietary restrictions, so you should not expect to be matched according to this. However, we encourage you to use this as an opportunity to reveal a part of who you are with the family, by offering to help cook and share recipes!

Who are SiPN Visiting Families?

Our Visiting families are diverse. They may or may not have children, they might be single parents,  retirees, or have a large tight-knit extended family. All of them typically speak English fluently, but if your goal is to practice your Portuguese, you should make this clear during the placement process and SiPn will do its best to relay this information to our host families.

We try our best to match you with a visiting family that will share similar interests and want to engage in plans as often as both parties desire.

Who Can Sign Up for the Visiting Family Program?

All semester-length* students are encouraged to sign up! You will be given an opportunity to sign up during the application phase. If SiPN is unable to find a visiting family for you, you will be placed on a waitlist.

*Summer Session students staying at least 8 weeks in Portugal may also be accommodated in the VFP on a space available basis. Note that summer placements are inherently more difficult due to family holidays in July and August and so we cannot guarantee that everyone who wants a VFP placement will receive one in the summer months. Placements will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Ferreira Family Testimonial

Our family experience as part of the SiPN Visiting Family Program has been a very positive and gratifying experience.  This program enabled us to share cultural experiences and develop strong ties with our SiPN students.  They became part of our family and this friendship will continue for years to come.  All our SiPN family members were unique and very diverse, after all the United States is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world.

We learned a lot about the Portuguese community Boston, Massachusetts from Monica and the strong ties between Mexico and San Diego, California from Maria. We also had an opportunity to show them some of Portugal’s coolest and historical places as well as had them try some traditional dishes and food. There is plenty to do in an 850+ year old country.

Our 5 year old daughter loved sightseeing and talking to them about almost anything, both in Portuguese and English.

We hope to continue expanding and keeping in touch with all our SiPN family members.