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Barcelona, Spain
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Welcome to your program!
This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, extension of UCEAP participation, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances and much more.

Remember to also visit the Participants section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
“The native Spanish professors not only taught us lessons in their class, but also taught us about the way of life in Spain and their culture. It was really great to apply what I learned in class directly to the real world, especially the language and grammar classes that helped me communicate with locals and my Spanish roommates.”
~ Richard Lee, UCLA
Click a heading below to see section content.
Your UCEAP Network
Local UCEAP support, UCEAP online & Study Center abroad

Contact Information

Program Advisor
Monica Reynolds
Phone: (805) 893-4268; E-mail:
Operations Specialist
Hugo Márquez
Phone: (805) 893-4268; E-mail:
Academic Specialist
Monica Rocha
Phone: (805) 893-2712; E-mail:
Student Finance Accountant
Melissa Manzo
Phone: (805) 893-2648; E-mail:
UCEAP Systemwide Office
6950 Hollister Avenue, Suite 200
Goleta, CA 93117-5823
Phone: (805) 893-4762; Fax: (805) 893-2583

UCEAP Online

Bookmark your Participants program page. This resource lists requirements and policies you need to know before you go abroad, including your Predeparture Checklist, UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Program Calendar, UCEAP Student Budgets, and payment instructions.
Connect with us! Join our Facebook network via the UCEAP Spain page.

Study Centers Abroad

UCEAP programs in Spain are administered by UC faculty and staff. Every program in Spain has a corresponding UCEAP office that is staffed to assist program participants with academic, logistical, and personal concerns. The Study Center Director, who is a UC faculty member responsible for all UCEAP Spain programs, maintains an office at the Centro California/Illinois in Barcelona.

Contact Information

UCEAP in Spain
Prof. Benjamin Liu, Study Center Director
Gemma de Blas, Coordinator
Centro California/Illinois
Facultad de Filología
Universitat de Barcelona
Gran Vía de les Corts Catalanes, 585
08007 Barcelona, Spain
Phone: (+34) 93-317-5018
Pompeu Fabra University (UPF)
Lucía Conte, Director of Study Abroad Programs
Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
08005 Barcelona
Phone: (+34) 93 542 1935
Fax: (+34) 93 542 2860
Phone Number Codes
U.S. international code . . . . . . . . . . 011 (dial this to call from the U.S.)
Spain country code. . . . . . . . .. . . . .34
Madrid city code. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
Barcelona city code . . . . . . . . .  . . . 93
Granada city code. . . . . . . . . . .  . . .958
Cádiz city code. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 956
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Academic Information
University-specific academic information, internships & volunteer opportunities

​University Information

The Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) is dedicated to internationalization in all ways and none is more important than this program, opened in 2009 by the Faculty of Economic and Business Science. Since all UPF students in the International Business Economics (IBE) program are required to take coursework in English, you will find local students in all your classes.
The UPF’s Campus de la Ciutadella is located near the city center of Barcelona. This beautiful, urban campus combines renovated historic buildings with modern facilities. The library is open 360 days a year and offers extended hours of operation during examination periods. In addition to its own impressive collection, the library also has an inter-library loan system that can access any university library in Catalonia within 24 hours. There are computer rooms for student use across the campus, and some 300 wireless hotspots.
Academic Culture
As one of the first universities to embrace the implementation of the Bologna Process, UPF’s four-year degree (grado) system will be familiar to American students. It is also one of the few universities in Spain that follow a quarter rather than semester calendar. Each term is divided into a ten-week class session plus another two-week examination period.
Professors may supply a syllabus at the beginning of the course and in some cases, course syllabi (also referred to as “subject programmes”) for the IBE program may be available online on the degree web page. Note that although a course may be offered in English, it is possible that syllabus posted online is in Catalan. 
A syllabus may include a bibliography and additional recommended reading list that may seem to be extremely long. You likely will not need to read every book on the list, but you will need to find out which ones are essential and how they relate to each other. Note-taking skills are important, and you may find that you are required to do more preparatory work on your own outside of class than you are accustomed to at UC.

Academic Program

While the IBE program offers a wide range of courses in English to choose from, it is important to remember that this is an impacted program and class spaces for international students (including UC participants) may be limited. Be flexible with your schedule and try to incorporate second- or third-choice courses into your schedule if it becomes necessary to do so.
Remember that you will ultimately be responsible for your course selection and preparing in advance:
  • Familiarize yourself with your own academic requirements before departure. UPF will not be familiar with the requirements of every major at every UC campus.
  • Meet with your UC campus departmental advisor before leaving California and determine the types of courses that will best fit your UC academic program.
  • Take the e-mail address of your major department advisor to facilitate consultation on coursework for the major.

Courses & Units

Course offerings and schedules for the 2012-13 academic year will be posted online on the "Course Choices" (listed also as "Oferta Docent") page for the program when available. Note that “Trimestre 2” on the table corresponds to winter quarter and “Trimestre 3” corresponds to the spring quarter.
Not listed on the Oferta Docent web page is the seminar and/or internship opportunity available to qualified students. UPF places a high value on experiential learning and may have variable options for their international participants. Students with no Spanish language ability will need to participate for both winter and spring quarters to receive an English-language internship placement in the spring.
Most courses offered in the International Business Economics program are listed at 5 ECTS credits, equivalent to 4 UC quarter units. You may select courses from those offered in the Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences only, unless otherwise specified by UCEAP officials.

Registration & Requirements

You will register twice: once with the UPF and once for UCEAP. In addition to enrolling in host university classes, you must fill out your MyEAP Study List each quarter. The UCEAP Academic Specialist and/or Program Advisor in California will contact you via e-mail in order to lead you through the UC registration process; they will also be able to respond to any questions that you might have.
It is important that you adhere to the established deadlines for adding and dropping courses at your host university and for submitting your MyEAP registration. Be sure to review your MyEAP Study List carefully; the course information listed—subject area, title, and units—is what will appear on your UC transcript.
You are required to take a full-time course of study while abroad. Plan on taking a normal UC load of 12 to 16 UC quarter units per term and a minimum of three UPF courses. If you are a student from Berkeley or Merced (semester campuses), you will meet the semester requirements and take a full-time course of study as long as you take the minimum number of required units each quarter. Semester campus students must complete both quarters to receive credit at their home UC.
  • You must take 12 to 16 UC quarter units per term and a minimum of three courses.
  • Only one-third (33.3%) of your total units may be taken for pass/no pass.
  • Because instructions are sent by e-mail, you must ensure that the e-mail address listed in MyEAP is one that you will check regularly.
Course descriptions will be available through the MyEAP Course Catalog as they are confirmed.


Placement in an academic internship is an optional component of the program for students who participate in both winter and spring quarters.  Any UC student with two years of Spanish language will be eligible for an internship that combines weekly seminars with workplace placement specifically based on his or her area of study. Students will receive individual advising and supervision at the internship location and may pay a fee for the placement. ​Other independent research projects or independently arranged internships are not available for academic credit on this program.


Although Spanish professors may not usually take formal attendance, repeated unexcused absences from class will be noticed. In many cases, exams concentrate heavily on material presented in class. Failure to regularly attend can result in missing important information and, therefore, a lowered or failing grade.
Exams are usually essays for which you must do independent research and preparation. Exams may include subjects that were only touched on minimally in lectures and may be open notebook or open book, in which case you will be expected to read several books and be able to quote from them.
Generally, grading is based on one comprehensive essay exam at the end of the course. The Study Center Director assigns the final grade that appears on your UC transcript using numerical evaluations and other comments received from your professors.
Although the UPF system has an additional examination period (segunda convocatoria) for their students to retake exams in September, UC Academic Senate policies specifically prohibit re-taking final exams. As a UCEAP student, you must take your final exams during the normally scheduled examination period at the end of each quarter. You may not request early exam dates; early departures from Spain are not allowed.
For detailed information about grades, see the Academic Information chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
 § rev. 3/22/2013
Extending UCEAP Participation
Extension information, forms & deadlines

​Planning for Back-to-Back Programs

Although extension options are not built into this program, you do have several options when considering the length of time you want to spend in Spain; however, you must plan in advance. At the time of application, you must select to participate in the International Business Economics program for winter quarter, spring quarter, or winter + spring quarters. You may not apply for winter and then decide later to stay for spring quarter.
It may also be possible for you to participate in two different UCEAP programs consecutively. For example, if you are a spring quarter IBE participant, you might choose to apply to the summer Language & Culture program in Madrid, where you may focus on Spanish language acquisition.
If you would like to participate in two programs, you must submit an application for each program by the campus deadline (before you leave the U.S.). You will  go through the regular UCEAP selection process for each program, which may include an interview. You must meet all selection criteria for both programs and your UC campus must select you to participate. The Campus EAP Office may have other requirements as well.
Cultural Awareness
Educational resources

​Educate Yourself

Get acquainted with your new host city, country, and culture before you leave California. Travel guides and travel-related websites, such as Lonely Planet or Time Out, are excellent resources. Bring a travel guidebook; they are more expensive and harder to find in Spain.
Read about the Spanish lifestyle so you will have some idea what to expect. Keep up with current events by reading articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals that have to do with Spain. Take a look at El País to see what is featured in Spain’s most widely distributed newspaper (in Spanish).
An especially valuable resource for Spain is the Spanish government website, which provides video clips as well as plenty of other visuals and text as context for its suggested travel routes.
If you have not studied Catalán, get a head start on your language skills by checking out a list of resources for learning Catalán online.

Cultural Adjustment

The first few weeks abroad are typically hard for all UCEAP students. Students commonly feel they are going through this adjustment alone, although most participants experience it. Typically, cross-cultural adjustment issues arise because of uncertainty about how to face certain everyday social encounters.

Social Conduct

Smoking in public places is now illegal in Spain (ley antitabaco); however, some people smoke anyway and it may not be easy to find a smoke-free dining environment.
Be aware that in most homes, a strict non-smoking environment is less common than in the United States. Families often smoke in their homes and, even if the family does not smoke in the home, visitors may do so.
Alcohol & Drugs
As in many countries, alcohol and other drugs are a part of Spanish youth culture, but typically there is no pressure to partake. Moderate drinking as a part of meals and social occasions is traditional in Spanish culture from a very young age; on the other hand, “binge” drinking at parties or drinking to get drunk tends to be much less common among Spanish university students than can be the case on U.S. college campuses. Abuse of alcohol may bring unwelcome attention and difficulties; getting drunk is not considered acceptable behavior in Spain.
Use of illicit drugs is a crime and can result in serious penalties. Student abuse of alcohol or use of illicit drugs is against UC and UCEAP policies and will not be tolerated.

Intolerance & Harassment

Students have reported encountering behaviors in Spain that would be labeled as sexist, racist, or discriminatory in the U.S.
UC students of African-American, Asian-Pacific Islander, Latin, and Middle Eastern backgrounds in particular may frequently find themselves the objects of stares and comments, ranging from relatively innocent to occasionally hostile.
Graffiti including anti-Semitic, anti-Islamic, and generally anti-immigrant messages is prevalent.
Female students have indicated that they are stared at, approached, and harassed by men more openly and more frequently in Spain than at home. These behaviors are characterized as annoying, frustrating, and initially shocking, but generally no more than that. Some have commented that there is no “political correctness” in Spain.
To have a rewarding and safe experience, talk to past participants and inform yourself about cultural, legal, and social issues affecting gender roles, relationships, and dating before departure.
It is important that you do not allow cultural differences to prevent you from completing your program in Spain. If you encounter offensive behavior, try physically moving away from the offender, as responding may simply escalate the situation. Seek help from program staff and fellow students, especially if an offensive encounter becomes out of control or causes you increased anxiety and anger. Female returnees indicate that harassment can occur no matter what the circumstances; however, they recommend adapting your dress, comments, and actions to blend more closely to local norms. Talking to Spanish women and observing them in their daily activities can help to accomplish this.
In most cases these incidents represent a cultural difference that causes annoyance and frustration for UC students, rather than a source of physical danger. Inform yourself about social and political issues in Spain, think about and discuss these issues before departure, practice personal tolerance, and be mature and realistic in your expectations.

Improve Your Language Skills

The more Spanish you know before leaving for Spain, the more productive your time abroad will be. Even though this program accepts students with no prior language study, you are expected to undertake some language preparation prior to arrival. It will definitely pay off when you get to Barcelona.
Prior to departure, you are expected to spend one hour per day working to acquire or improve Spanish skills. Depending on language level, some or all of the following may be helpful:
  • Obtain Spanish language instruction CDs or digital audio files from a local library or bookstore. Many helpful phrases and pronunciation tips can be gained using these tools.
  • Keep a journal of Spanish phrases, expressions, and whole sentences for vocabulary building.
  • Use the second-language option on your television or DVD player. That way, you can hear popular movies in Spanish with English subtitles. Your ear will become more accustomed to the rhythms of spoken Spanish.
  • Download free Spanish language podcasts.
If you have taken some classes in Spanish, you can also enhance your skills through the following methods:
  • Read aloud (anything in Spanish) for 20 minutes at a time. Strive for correct pronunciation; read progressively faster, maintaining correct pronunciation.
  • Review basic grammar terminology and definitions.
  • Listen to Spanish language television regularly to improve your comprehension.
  • Go to Spanish language movies.
Give your Spanish comprehension a workout; the harder you work at home, the easier your time abroad will be. Feedback on performance in all of these areas is important. It is advisable to work with others to help you recognize mistakes and improve performance.
Arrival & Orientation
Travel documents, packing tips, travel to and from your host country

​Travel Documents

 Additional information about passports, visas, and other required documents for this program is provided in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad and in the UCEAP online Predeparture Checklist.
Write your passport number down and keep it in a safe place. Carry your passport only when it is necessary. Leave a photocopy of the first page (with photo) of your passport with someone in the U.S.
Non-U.S. Citizens
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must contact the appropriate Spanish consulate immediately upon acceptance into UCEAP to determine your specific visa requirements. Requirements may differ depending on your country of citizenship and the process may take longer than for U.S. citizens.
Required Spanish Student Visa
You must secure a student visa from the Spanish consulate before going to Spain; otherwise, you will be asked to leave the program.
A visa is official permission to enter Spain; the visa process is controlled by the Spanish government.
In order to obtain a student visa, you must first possess a passport that is valid at least six months beyond the end date of your program. If you do not have a valid passport, apply for one as soon as possible.
You will apply for a student visa at the Consulate of Spain in either San Francisco or Los Angeles. It is not possible to apply for a visa after arrival in Spain. You cannot enter Spain as a tourist and obtain a student visa after arrival.
You will submit original documents to the Spanish consulate when you apply for the visa. Make and keep copies of all documents before submitting them; you will need these copies after you arrive in Spain in order to complete the student visa process.
The UCEAP Systemwide Office will provide detailed visa information and it is vital that you read this information carefully. The Spanish consulate sets strict rules for obtaining a student visa. These rules are not set by UCEAP; therefore, UCEAP cannot help you with late visa applications or with applications that are delayed or denied.
If you plan to travel in Europe prior to the beginning of the program, keep in mind that the visa process is lengthy and delays or complications are common. Because applying for the visa requires submitting your passport (along with all other required documents) to the Spanish consulate in the U.S., visa complications or delays can disrupt preprogram travel plans. Instead, plan travel for vacation breaks during your term abroad and after the program is over in order to avoid potential problems.
Visa for stays under 180 days
You will apply for a visa that is valid for 180 days. Details on requirements and the visa application process will be provided in your Predeparture Checklist.
Photocopy all important documents, including your passport photo pages, visa in your passport, travelers check receipts, airline tickets, driver’s license, student ID, and credit cards (front and back). It is easier to replace lost or stolen documents when you have photocopies. Leave copies of these documents at home with a parent or guardian and pack a set in various pieces of luggage. Spending a few moments copying documents now can save time and energy if something is lost or stolen.

Packing Tips

Check with your airline regarding the latest baggage allowance and other restrictions. Pack lightly. You will have to carry your own luggage, so make sure you can handle it. Long-distance buses, trains, and taxis in Spain limit luggage to one piece per passenger. If you have excess luggage you must research and find your own storage space. UPF will not store luggage.
Clearly identify each item of luggage on the inside and outside with your name, home address, and university address abroad. Never leave luggage unattended. Read about the Personal Property Benefit included in the UCEAP Insurance Plan and assess if the coverage is adequate. You may decide to protect your belongings with additional insurance.
Most items available in the U.S. will also be available in Spain. If you forget something or find a need for an additional item, you can purchase it in Spain. Clothing in Spain tends to be of good quality and is reasonably priced. Wool items are of particularly good quality. Shoes are well made, but large sizes may be hard to find.
When selecting clothing to pack, keep in mind the Spanish culture; women who wear skimpy clothing need to be prepared for comments and attention that can be crude and often annoying.
The UCEAP Student Budget does not include funds for the purchase of clothing abroad.
  • Laptop computer with wireless card and Ethernet cable
  • Travel converter and adaptor plugs
  • Photocopies of all paperwork submitted to consulate for your student visa
  • Photocopies of UCEAP Participation Letter and host university acceptance letter
  • Printout of online registration (if applicable)
  • Spanish grammar book
  • Spanish-only and Spanish-English dictionaries
  • Notepaper and pens
  • Flash drive (or other back-up media storage device for papers)
  • Prescription medication (enough to last for the first few months of your stay; see the Health chapter of this guide for more information)
  • Good pair of walking shoes
  • Slippers (Spaniards do not usually go barefoot at home)
  • Rain jacket/umbrella
  • Day pack/ backpack (to carry books around the city or to use for a weekend away)
  • Travel alarm clock
  • Travel smoke detector
  • Digital camera
  • Bath towel
  • Passport-size photos (for public transportation passes)
  • Gifts for foreign hosts and new friends (CDs; T-shirts with city, state, or campus logos; California postcards)
  • Photos of home, family, pets
Do Not Pack
  • Illegal narcotics
Electrical Appliances
The electrical current used in Europe is 50 Hz AC rather than the 60 Hz current used in the U.S. and voltage is 220–240 rather than the U.S. standard 110-120 volts for small appliances. Additionally, most electrical outlets have round holes. You’ll need a converter (or transformer) and adaptor plugs to use typical home appliances from the U.S. Most computers come with a built-in voltage converter.
Travel irons, curling irons, blow dryers, and electric razors with built-in converters for all currents can be purchased in the U.S. or abroad. The cost of electricity abroad is very high and improper use of appliances may damage electrical outlets and the appliances; it is a good policy to ask before using the outlets.
Spain’s inland climate is continental, meaning summers tend to be hot, winters tend to be cold, and the temperature between day and night differs significantly depending on the season. The average winter temperature is 30ºF to 40ºF, but from December to February it may drop well below freezing. Many buildings in Spain have no central heating and tend to remain cold even after the weather outside has warmed up.

Official UCEAP Start Date

You must be in Spain by the Official Start Date. The specific meeting time and location are provided on the Arrival Instructions that are included in your Predeparture Checklist. If you fail to appear on the Official Start Date, you are subject to dismissal from the program (Student Agreement, Section 10).
Check your e-mail daily and stay in contact with UCEAP in order to be kept informed of any program changes prior to departure. Send any e-mail and address changes promptly to the UCEAP Program Advisor for your program. There is no group flight for this program. You are responsible for making all flight and travel arrangements. Even if on full financial aid, you are responsible for reserving and purchasing your tickets. Your Financial Aid Office will not do this for you. Standby tickets are not appropriate. You are strongly urged to purchase changeable airline tickets.
Flights are routinely changed or canceled. Confirm your flight schedule with your airline approximately two weeks before your departure date. In addition, the start date of a program can change due to unforeseen circumstances. You are responsible for making modifications to your travel itinerary to accommodate such changes. UCEAP is not responsible for any non-recoverable transportation charges you may incur.
Take a copy of the Arrival Instructions to Spain, as this sheet contains all necessary emergency contact information. When traveling, always carry your passport with visa, ticket, prescription medications, and money on your person. Never put these items or other valuables in checked luggage.
Early Arrivals
If you arrive early, you are still expected to meet the group at the designated time and place as indicated on the Arrival Information Sheet.
Late Arrivals
Generally, late arrivals are not acceptable; however, certain cases may warrant an exception. Late arrivals must obtain advanced approval from the UCEAP Systemwide Office. If you expect to arrive late, contact the Systemwide Office well in advance of the Official Start Date.
Return Travel
If you do not make round-trip arrangements, be sure to book a return flight with plenty of lead time once abroad. UPF staff can refer you to a local travel agency for information on return travel. Flights to the U.S. fill up fast and economy-fare seats are booked early. When purchasing round-trip tickets, select a ticket that allows changes to the return date.
Financial Aid Students
Your financial aid package is based partly on the UCEAP Student Budget for the program. The estimated round-trip airfare amount is based on the cost of a changeable student fare to Spain. If your independent travel costs are greater than the airfare estimate in the UCEAP Student Budget, notify your financial aid counselors. Neither UCEAP nor the Financial Aid Office can guarantee that the additional cost will be funded by financial aid.


You are required to attend all orientation sessions.
Your program in Spain begins with a required orientation in Barcelona. During one or more sessions of the orientation you will receive:
  • Introductions to the Spain Study Center Director and UPF staff.
  • An overview of the program.
  • Print materials containing program calendars, information about facultades, expected behavior, and health & safety.
  • Academic information and introductions to services available to international students at Pompeu Fabra University.
  • General tourist information about your city regarding transportation (including maps), banking, and other logistical concerns.
Local Transportation
Travel options & travel sign-out

​Travel within Barcelona

Barcelona’s public transportation system is excellent, user friendly, and inexpensive. The Metro system is clean and punctual; there is rarely more than a five-minute wait between trains. For areas not served by the Metro, an efficient bus service serves the city center and commuter rail systems provide links to the areas outside the center. You will most likely use these public transport options on a regular basis.
Financial Information
MyEAP student account, UCEAP student budget & handling money abroad

Handling Money Abroad

Before Departure

  • Be sure to have more than one way to access funds while abroad.
  • Arrive in Spain with at least 200 euros in cash (some in small bills). You can obtain euros from a U.S. bank. Some banks require at least a week or two to obtain foreign currency.
  • Take at least one credit card in your name (preferably two), and two ATM cards (if possible) from your U.S. bank account. The ATM cards must have an international (four-digit) PIN in order to work in Spain.
  • Travelers checks are useful for large purchases, to save you from high credit card conversion rates. They are also a safe back-up to get money in case your credit card is lost, stolen, or shut down by your bank for international use.
  • Do not plan to have checks (financial aid, money from family, etc.) sent to Spain. Checks should be sent to a trusted friend or relative who can deposit the funds into your U.S. bank account.
  • Assign your Power of Attorney to someone you trust.
Discuss the following important details with your bank and credit card companies:
  • Notify them that you will be traveling abroad; otherwise, they may flag or cancel your cards for unusual activity.
  • Staying in contact while abroad, including contact phone numbers and e-mail (store contact information online so that you can easily access it while traveling).
  • Whether or not your ATM card can be used in Spain and other travel destinations. Cirrus and Plus systems are common throughout Europe, but if you do not have an international PIN, you will need to change it.
  • Transaction fees for using an international ATM, including usage fees charged by ATMs in Spain.
  • Daily withdrawal and transfer limits (there may also be European ATM withdrawal limitations).
  • Process for reporting lost/stolen cards and obtaining replacements (keep your account numbers in a secure, easily accessible location in case of emergencies).
  • Partner banks in Spain to minimize fees and allow access to certain benefits and services. Charles Schwab usually reimburses international ATM fees, and Bank of America has a relationship with Barclays Bank and does not charge ATM fees, so students have opened accounts with these banks before departure; other banks may offer similar services.
  • Available online services, which will allow you to check account balances and pay bills. Be sure to ask about online banking fees.
  • Cash advance services, including fees and interest rates (they are sometimes double that of purchases).
While in Spain
Plan on using a combination of methods to obtain cash in case one fails  (e.g., a local ATM is temporarily out of service). Do not rely solely on one form of currency.
You will have to cover the costs of daily transportation, books and school supplies, and personal items, among other expenses. Many students have found that their living costs were much greater than expected and  they suggest budgeting a large amount of spending money.
Using an ATM card is the easiest way to access your money overseas and the exchange rate is the most favorable. ATMs are widely available in Spain and you will receive cash in local currency (euros). Plan to have financial aid or other support funds deposited directly into your U.S. checking account by a relative or reliable friend. You can then withdraw these funds (in euros) via an ATM.
Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and do not withdraw money from an ATM at night. An ATM card can be lost or stolen, or might not work. For this reason, we recommend that you take two ATM cards to Spain.
Credit Cards
Credit cards are useful for emergencies, travel expenses, and everyday purchases. Most stores and restaurants in Spain honor major credit cards. Visa is the most widely accepted credit card in Europe, followed by MasterCard. American Express (AmEx) is not widely accepted, but can be used to purchase travelers checks abroad. The Discover Card is not widely accepted outside the U.S. and is not worth taking to Spain.
Take at least two international credit cards and always leave one at home while in Spain; if one is lost or stolen, you will have an immediate backup. These credit cards must be in your name (not a parent’s).
If you need a cash advance after hours at an ATM, you will need an international PIN. If you conduct a cash advance transaction inside a bank, you may not need an international PIN, but you will need your passport.
Travelers Checks
Travelers checks can be useful in an emergency, as an alternate source of money if you lose your wallet, or if a card does not work. In addition, travelers checks can be replaced if lost or stolen. If you don’t use the travelers checks in Spain, you can deposit them to your bank account upon your return to the U.S. Purchase the checks in U.S. dollars before you depart; AmEx Travelers Cheques are the most widely accepted. Be sure to make two copies of the check numbers and give one copy to a family member or friend before you leave home. Keep the other copy for yourself, separate from the actual checks. If your checks are lost or stolen, you will need to provide these numbers and corresponding receipts in order to obtain replacements.
Travelers checks can be exchanged for euros at any bank marked Cambio or at exchange offices (oficinas de cambio). A transaction fee will be charged and some banks may insist on exchanging a minimum amount.
At the American Express office you can write checks (from the States) for travelers checks. However, travelers checks are no longer widely used in Europe and many restaurants and cafés do not accept them. Have a credit card and especially an ATM card to access your money.
Western Union
Western Union can be used to have money wired from home in a very short amount of time (sometimes within minutes). In most instances, you can receive local currency at competitive foreign exchange rates. Check the Western Union website or the local phone directory for the number and address of the nearest office.
Communications Abroad
Mail, local and international calls & computer access

International Calls

To call or send a fax to Spain from California, dial the international access code (011), then the country code (34), then the city code (Barcelona: 93), and then the phone number. When making calls within Spain, you must dial the city code, even for local calls.


For calling your home in the U.S., UCEAP recommends that you open a free Skype account. It is one of the most inexpensive ways to keep in touch with family and friends in the U.S. With your own computer and a headset or at an Internet café (locutorio), you can call other Skype users free of charge with excellent call quality. Even if you are calling a landline in the U.S., the rates are affordable at about 2.3¢ per minute. Ask your friends and family to download the program to their computers and you will be able to talk for free.

Prepaid Phone Cards

Phone cards are also a good option to call the U.S. You can buy them from a locutorio, or you can conveniently buy them online from Cloncom. On this website you can check rates and receive your PIN and access numbers via e-mail.
You can use a prepaid card on any phone (home, cell, and public phones). Plan to use a toll-free access number (900 number) when you call from someone else’s phone so that they are not charged fees for the call.
Be mindful of the following:
901 Access: This access method allows you to pay for a local call but receive more minutes for your international call. To call from a pay phone, insert coins and then dial the 901 access number provided. Do not use this access number when you call from a homestay.
900 Access: By using this access method you will be making a toll-free call.

Cell Phones

Using a cell phone to call home can be expensive, although you will not be charged for incoming calls from the U.S. and there are some companies that specialize in student rates. In general, getting a cell phone is a good idea so you can call and text message friends in Spain.
Prepaid cell phones: With prepaid phones, you have maximum flexibility since you pay as you go. As you need more credit you simply buy recharge cards (recargas) that are widely available from El Corte Ingles, your local kiosk, or online. The minimum amount of credit that you must add is usually between €5 and €10.
Cell phone rental services: There are cell phone rental services available. Recent UCEAP returnees have rented cell phones with no complaints.
Take your own U.S. cell phone: Spain operates on a GSM network, so check to make sure your phone operates on GSM.

Mail & Shipments

Use e-mail, faxes, and private couriers (e.g., FedEx or DHL) for critical communications and shipments, as the Spanish mail system can be slow.
Under no circumstances should you ship laptops, digital cameras, or luggage abroad; it is expensive and subject to arbitrary customs duties.
Never ship medication or have it sent to you. Customs will not accept it.
Be sure to write “Airmail” on all mail sent overseas. Surface mail can take up to three months to arrive.
Airmail from the U.S. can take two to six weeks to arrive. Do not use the phrase “in care of” on any letters; this phrase is not recognized in Spain. Have your family/friends address mail directly to you. If you need to receive important documents overseas, you must use private express mail (FedEx, DHL, etc.). The item will be registered and insured and the mailing time will be less than that of the Postal Service. The express mail service offered by the U.S. Postal Service takes much longer than the private services because the package enters the regular mail system once it arrives overseas.
Receiving packages overseas can be costly. Any package valued at more than 22 euros, including shipping costs, may be subject to customs charges. If at all possible, avoid having packages sent as they may be held in customs for a lengthy period of time and, when released, may include substantial customs charges; these charges are somewhat arbitrary and nearly impossible to predict. Warn parents and friends that they should avoid declaring a high value on a package; in some cases the duty charged could exceed the value of the package. You will have to pay these high duty charges in order to accept the packages sent; your package will be shipped back to the U.S. if these charges are not paid. Fees as high as $100 or more for something as simple as a coat or care package are common. Asking friends and family to declare “Used Items for Personal Use Only/No Commercial Value” (Efectos Personales Usados/Sin Valor Comercial) on packages may alleviate high customs charges, but be forewarned that even inexpensive items marked in this way are not immune to customs charges or delays. Customs officials have the right to examine the contents of any package to assess value.
Ask family and friends to stop sending you mail and packages at least two weeks before the program end date. Remember that similar arrangements will need to be made to ship the same articles home at the end of the program.

Computer Access & Use

Laptops are among the most frequently stolen items from travelers.
Pompeu Fabra University has free WiFi in all campus buildings. You will receive an access code and password to access the network upon arrival. There are computer labs and study rooms available to students in the library. It is best to bring your own laptop. There is also a laptop borrowing service which allows you to reserve a laptop for a few hours on days when you forget your own laptop at home. There is no guarantee that a laptop will be available to borrow when you need one, so it is best to plan to use your own computer.
Be prepared for crowded computer facilities on campus; waiting is common, and the hours can be inconvenient.
If you plan to bring a laptop:
  • Be certain the UCEAP Insurance Plan property benefit is enough to cover your laptop in case of loss or theft
  • Do not ship your laptop to Spain. Your laptop may be held for inspection by customs officials and customs fees are costly, even for older laptops.
  • Always carry your laptop with you and never set the bag containing your computer out of reach.
  • Make sure your computer is wireless-enabled in order to access any available WiFi networks.
  • Bring your own Ethernet cable.
  • Ensure that your laptop is equipped with a built-in voltage converter that enables it to operate on the 220-volt system used in Spain (this is a fairly common feature) and bring adaptor plugs.
  • Install the latest anti-virus software to minimize hassle.
  • Bring a flash drive or other media storage to back up papers, etc.
  • If you choose, you can buy a relatively inexpensive portable printer to use with your laptop.
Housing & Meals
Program housing options, supplies needed & meals

​Residence Halls and Apartments

Students attending the Pompeu Fabra University will have a choice of housing: student residence hall or an apartment in the city. There are two halls that have agreements with the university to house international students. Information about the halls can be found online on the university housing website and through your predeparture checklist. You will apply directly to the residence hall or apartment of your choice after being placed into the International Business Economics program. Arrangements for arrival and departure will be made between the residence hall or apartment staff and you, as well as any necessary payment. UCEAP will not bill you for housing and any payments made to UCEAP do not include housing costs.
All rooms in the residence halls are furnished and include kitchenware and Internet access. Monthly rental rates range from €350–485, and various levels of cleaning and washing services can be added individually for additional fees.

 La Ciutadella Residence Hall

La Ciutadella Residence Hall offers 192 single rooms with a kitchen, 24 single rooms with a shared kitchen, and 18 double rooms with a kitchen. All the rooms have a private bathroom, telephone, heating, computer connection with Internet access, television antenna, and a satellite receiver. The residence hall also has rooms to accommodate people with disabilities.

Campus del Mar Residence Hall

Campus del Mar offers 84 single rooms with a kitchen. All the rooms have a private bathroom, telephone, heating, computer connection with Internet access, television antenna, and a satellite receiver. The residence hall also has rooms adapted to accommodate people with  disabilities.


Each apartment is unique and will vary in size, condition, and location. Keep in mind that living standards in Europe are different from those in the U.S. and apartments tend to be smaller and older.
Apartments are usually rented furnished (including some kitchenware). Prices vary greatly depending on the area. You will be required to pay a deposit and/ or first and last month’s rent in advance. Make sure to request a receipt stating the conditions for return of the deposit, or you will likely lose it. If you rent through an agency, be prepared to pay a non-refundable agency fee.


All residence halls provide kitchen facilities within individual apartments, and most students will cook at least some of their meals at home.
University restaurant cafeterias are designed specifically for students and the food is cheap, filling, and nutritious. Spanish students eat the basic fare of an appetizer, main dish, dessert, and a drink for approximately €5,50. Vegetarians may substitute the main dish with a salad, bread, or another vegetable. Sandwiches or baguettes are between €1,50 and €4, and other options include coffee with milk, €0,85; croissant, €1,50; Coca-Cola, €1,10; combined dish, €3,50. You may be able to buy a 10-meal coupon to save some money. University restaurants are open from early October to mid-June and closed during all official holidays.

In areas of town near university campuses there are often shops and bars that serve cheap bocadillos, sometimes for as little as €2.
Spanish Diet & Meal Times
In Spain, breakfast is rather light, usually consisting of a roll and strong coffee (a “continental breakfast”). Lunch, on the other hand, tends to be a substantial meal and is seen as the main meal of the day. Lunch is typically served around 2 p.m. and Spaniards tend to linger over this main meal. The evening meal, as with breakfast, is lighter, and is served later in the evening, around 9:30 p.m.

The Spanish diet is based on eggs, bread, potatoes, chicken, pork, and fish. Pork has a prominent place in the Spanish diet. Fish and shellfish are abundant but can be expensive. Their quality and preparation are superb, although past students have commented that they were initially unprepared for a fish to be served intact. Vegetables and fruits are of equally high quality. Spanish foods and their preparation bear little resemblance to U.S. or Mexican foods. Since olives are one of Spain’s primary crops, olive oil is used almost exclusively in Spanish cooking.
The amount of oil used is usually shocking to most California students, and past students have mentioned that they are not used to eating food cooked in oil, chorizo, and eating tapas. “Greasy” and “oily” are two food descriptions heard often from UC students, yet many come to enjoy the food during their stay in Spain.
Eating Out
Many restaurants and cafés offer fixed menus or menú del día (a whole meal for a fixed price). You will usually find these meals to be the best value, as they will include a choice of two main dishes, bread, wine or mineral water, and dessert.
There are also numerous cafés and tapas bars, which are good places for a quick snack, throughout the city. Besides tapas, there are salad bars, which are a great option for lunch. They offer unlimited salads, pastas, soups, and desserts and a beverage for approximately €8. In bars, you can also order a Spanish sandwich (bocadillo) for about €4. When eating out, it is less expensive to sit inside than it is to sit at an outside table, and even less expensive to sit at the bar.
Shopping in the markets is another great way to experience Spanish cuisine and there are many types of markets available for your grocery needs. Spaniards buy most of their groceries at family-owned specialty corner stores. You will find these for fruits and vegetables, seafood, pork, baked goods, and more. Prices are mid-range and, if you frequent them often, service is personalized.
The best prices are usually found in the larger marketplaces rather than at the corner stores. The least expensive grocery store is Dia Autoservicio. You will have to bring your own shopping bags (or pay for theirs) and bag your own groceries.
In addition, most neighborhoods have a large marketplace with stall after stall of products, each stall specializing in one thing: meats and cheeses, chicken and eggs, fruits and vegetables, bread, pastries, dairy products, and dry goods.
If you are a vegetarian, you may have some trouble finding foods to eat, particularly if you do not eat fish. Most prepared foods contain some form of meat, or are cooked with chicken or meat broth. It is important to remember that vegetarianism is not as widely accepted or understood in Spain as it is in California. In some instances, vegetarian guests have been provided with a prime piece of ham, as the host may interpret “meat” only to mean beef. Refraining from eating meat for religious reasons is usually accepted. When eating out, vegetarians may substitute the main dish with a salad, bread, or another vegetable, but in general, vegetarian cooking is not popular. However, there are many restaurants and cafeteria-bars where you can find vegetarian items, such as tortilla Española, cheese portions, ensaladilla rusa, and bocadillos de queso. It is important to bring an open mind and some vitamin supplements.
Extracurricular Activities
Social activities, excursions & working in your host country

​Get Involved

Participating in extracurricular cultural and social activities while abroad is an excellent way to meet people, improve your language skills, and integrate more fully into the community.
Join sports, musical, theater, or arts groups; volunteer at local organizations; attend lectures and receptions held in academic and community circles; and get the most out of your time abroad.
Opportunities are not limited to those mentioned in this guide. This section discusses just a few of the many activities past students have enjoyed.


Students can participate in activities and excursions organized by the Linguistic Exchange Volunteering Service. These events take place throughout the academic term and provide students with great opportunities to interact with the university community and to get to know Barcelona and Catalonia. The events are free, and a schedule for each semester is listed on the Linguistic Exchange Volunteering Service website. Events include tours in local museums, historical and cultural sites, and day trips to towns and unique areas around Barcelona.


Most stores in Spain are not open on Sunday, including food stores. This is especially true in smaller cities. Bars, some restaurants, and some bakeries remain open.


In Spain it is cheaper and more convenient to stay in hostels that are not affiliated with the Youth Hostel Card.
For traveling, guidebooks are useful and are often cheaper in the U.S. Buy one or two general guides before departure.
Virtually every destination of interest within Spain is served by trains, buses, or both, making weekend and break travel easy. Students interested in traveling while abroad are encouraged to talk to past UCEAP Spain participants for tips and suggestions.
While you are encouraged to make the most of you experience abroad, programs offered through UCEAP are academic programs. Although it is not unusual for Spanish professors not to take formal attendance, repeated unexcused absences from class will be noticed. Failure to regularly attend class can result in a lowered or failing grade. Do not plan to travel on class days or on days that group events have been scheduled. There will be numerous opportunities on weekends and national holidays to travel without missing classes.
Any time you will be away from Barcelona for more than 24 hours, you are required to inform UCEAP and to complete and submit the Travel Sign-out form in MyEAP. It is essential for UCEAP to be able to locate you in the event of an emergency.
The UCEAP student budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.

Storing Luggage While Traveling

Neither UCEAP Study Centers nor UPF are equipped to store luggage for students due to lack of space.
You can store luggage at the Barcelona-Sants Estació train station. The general RENFE information number is (+34) 90-224-0202.
Physical health, medications, counseling & student insurance

​Physical Fitness, Health, and UCEAP insurance

Spain’s options for gyms are always growing. Past students who have joined local gyms have met excellent exercise or jogging companions. Jogging is usually restricted to parks.

UCEAP Insurance Plan

As part of your Education Abroad Program, you have been enrolled in the ACE/USA health insurance plan, which will provide you with service and protection in the event you become ill or injured during the program. The required UCEAP Insurance Plan premium is paid by UC. More details about the plan are available in the UCEAP Insurance Plan brochure. The plan provides for up to $500,000 medical expense benefit per occurrence, no deductible or copays, worldwide 24/7 access to the Europ Assistance USA multi-lingual network for emergency assistance, prescription medication, emergency reunion benefit, medical evacuation/repatriation, etc., and many non-medical benefits. Your coverage starts 14 days before the official start of the UCEAP program and ends 31 days after the last official day of the program. You will be covered anywhere in the world.

Medical Services & Facilities

If you have a preexisting medical condition, carry a letter from your physician describing the medical condition and adequate amounts of your prescription medications, including their generic names.
If you are in need of non-emergency medical care while overseas, contact Europ Assistance directly at the phone number or e-mail address on your insurance card for 24/7 service and assistance (or see below).
If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention and contact Europ Assistance immediatelyEurop Assistance is UCEAP’s travel assistance provider and their 24/7 staff can help you. Contact information for Europ Assistance is or call international collect at 1+202-828-5896. Currently, UCEAP students can go to the Clínica Tres Torres or Sant Jordi. They are open 24/7 and offer walk-in, primary and specialist care. Their services include translation services and direct billing so students don’t have to pay up front.
If you need help understanding the UCEAP insurance claim process, contact UCEAP. If your condition does not improve and an extended absence is expected, inform both UPF and UCEAP so they can make arrangements with your professors. It is also a good idea to let UCEAP know of any medical services received, even if it was not an emergency.
Prior to departure, you will be provided with a list of English-speaking doctors that students have used in the past. It is always important to keep some cash and credit cards on hand for emergencies; however, not all doctors will accept credit cards for payments. Generally, doctors and hospitals abroad will not bill insurance companies for services rendered. If you haven't contacted Europ Assistance, be prepared to pay for services up front and file a claim for a refund of eligible costs with the UCEAP insurance company. Save all bills and receipts and keep copies of all documentation sent to the claims adjustor.

Prescription Medications

Never send, or have someone else send, medications to Spain. Customs may not accept it or may impose high fines. Plan to take enough prescription medication to last the length of your stay. Consult with your doctor(s) and the UCEAP insurance provider several weeks before departure to make sure that you can get enough medication. If you cannot take enough medicine to last throughout the program, take a letter from your physician describing your diagnosis and treatment and make an appointment with a physician in Spain.
Carry your prescribed medications in their original, clearly labeled containers. Take copies of all prescriptions, including the generic names for medications, and a note from the prescribing physician on letterhead stationery explaining your diagnosis. Contact Europ Assistance before departure at 1+ (866) 451-7606 to make sure any required medications are not considered illegal narcotics.
Allergies to Medication: Medic Alert
If you have significant allergies or chronic medical problems, consider wearing a medical alert bracelet or a Medic Alert emblem. For more information, contact:
Medic Alert Foundation International
PO Box 1009
Turlock, CA 95380
Phone: (888) 633-4298
For more information about allergies and travel, read the Health chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.

Psychological Health

Emotional distress can have an impact on academic progress, personal relationships, and a successful study abroad experience. Encounters with new cultures, particularly for a prolonged period of time, will necessitate adjustment to different customs, lifestyles, and languages. You will be facing separation from family and familiar social support systems, and dealing with the impact of an unfamiliar environment and new threats to health and safety. Coping with high levels of stress may result in physical, social, and psychological problems.
Major cultural change may evoke severe distress in some individuals and is termed “culture shock.” Keep in mind that the stress of adjusting to an unfamiliar culture, a different academic environment, and a new system of support services can give rise to a wide array of unexpected and overwhelming reactions. Most students who experience culture shock function reasonably well under the stress and are able to keep up with the  responsibilities of school and everyday life. However, any situation entailing a high level of stress can cause unusually strong emotional reactions and can interfere with effective functioning either at that time or later. Such reactions are normal responses to abnormal situations and are to be expected under the circumstances. They are usually transitory—lasting a couple of weeks—and do not imply mental illness or an inability to cope. It is important you are able to recognize triggers and signs of emotional distress and act immediately to get help. Know the  warning signs, learn some techniques and skills to manage stress, and reach out for help.
Prior to departure, you will be provided with a list of health professionals who can help. This list will include information on bilingual doctors or counselors to help you.

Students with Disabilities

Accessibility at most buildings in Spain is limited, and it is common for older buildings to have stairs and no elevators. Expect to encounter uneven sidewalks, unequipped bathrooms, and narrow doors and aisles. Newer buildings are more accessible and some of the major shopping malls, cinemas, museums, bars, and restaurants are well adapted.
Spanish universities mainly provide support to students with disabilities through “Disability Support Services.” These services constitute a section, or department, that can appear under different denominations (e.g., office, service, department, center). These offices give support to students with disabilities in higher education. They try to do this in an integral way, trying to solve any problems students may have in their academic or daily life. In addition to official legislation across the country, each university has its particular and specific rules for students with disabilities.
Theft, intolerance, fire safety & emergency contacts
​The University of California Education Abroad Program has established policies and procedures to help you minimize your risk exposure and enhance your safety. However, your conduct is the central factor in protecting your personal health, safety, and well-being.
Staying safe and secure while abroad is a partnership between you and UCEAP and it requires you to take personal responsibility for observing culturally appropriate behavior, exercising sound judgment, and abiding by UCEAP policies and procedures. You need to recognize that you are responsible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for exercising good judgment. Essential behaviors include being aware of your surroundings, understanding how your conduct and actions may be perceived, and being sensitive to the impact that your behavior could have on your personal safety.
In addition to safety measures UCEAP takes to help protect you, you should register online with the U.S. embassy through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. All Study Center Directors are members of the U.S. embassy’s Warden Network, which allows the U.S. embassy to contact and disseminate information to the American community primarily in times of crisis or emergency.

Minimizing Risks

Barcelona is a major international city. You must be cognizant of your personal safety. Safe behavior involves using the same common sense and street smarts that you would use in any big city in the United States.
  • Do not put yourself into risky or threatening situations.
  • Pay attention to safety briefings during orientation, learn the areas of town to avoid, and know emergency phone numbers. Heavy drinking will result in increased vulnerability to safety risks. If you choose to drink, do so responsibly.
  • Never walk or travel alone, especially at night or when streets are deserted, including during siesta time. Arrange in advance to walk home with a friend and always carry enough money for a cab fare home. Students, male and female, walking home alone at night have been mugged, even right outside their apartment door.
  • Carry emergency phone numbers with you at all times. If you store them in your cell phone, also keep a hard copy with you in case your cell phone is lost or stolen.


Make a copy of the first page of your passport to use as a form of ID. Leave your actual passport safe in your room. In case your passport is lost or stolen, immediately notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, local authorities, and UCEAP.
Spain is a relatively safe country. Petty crime poses the greatest threat. Most incidents of crime occur in urban areas, in and around tourist attractions, and on beaches. Take measures to secure personal property and remain aware of your surroundings. Most petty crimes are committed by groups of young persons using a variety of distraction tactics. Pickpockets steal for a living; they are professional and good at what they do. Pickpockets prefer tourists and tend to work in tourist and crowded areas, in addition to the metro, airports, and train stations.
Minimize your chance of becoming a victim of petty theft
  • Be as inconspicuous as possible and keep a close eye on your personal belongings.
  • Always look like you know where you are going, even if you do not. Plan ahead when you are in an unfamiliar part of the city so you do not have to pull out a map on the sidewalk and advertise that you are lost.
  • Consider dressing to blend in. College sweatshirts, sweatpants, baseball caps, flip-flops, and shorts are all associated with Americans and may make you a likely target.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and those around you always. Thieves usually create a distraction before making their move, such as asking for the time so you turn to look at your watch. Be alert and aware.
  • Never carry large amounts of cash. Disperse your cash and documents among various pockets.
  • Carry your wallet in a front/breast pocket or in a security money belt/pouch under your clothes—never in your back pocket. If you must carry a wallet, wrap it in a rubber band—this creates friction, making it harder to pickpocket—or use a chain to attach your wallet to a belt loop.
  • Carry your purse or bag with the strap diagonally across your chest (never around your neck). Keep your hand on your purse or in your wallet pocket.
  • Never put your purse, backpack, or laptop by your feet or on a seat next to you. Keep it on your lap at all times. If you have a large backpack, place it in between your feet with the straps wrapped around your legs.
  • Do not store your camera or other valuables where they can be removed without notice.
  • When in crowds or on the Metro, carry your backpack or bag in front of you where you can see it.
  • Leave anything you do not need in a particular day at your apartment in a secure place.
Make photocopies of your passport, credit card/ATM numbers, emergency phone numbers, etc., and store them in a safe place (separate from the actual documents and cards). Leave a set of copies with your parents. If you lose your wallet, purse, or backpack, you can access the back-up photocopies. Report lost or stolen possessions immediately to the local police. Keep a copy of the police report for future insurance claims and as an explanation of your loss.

Road Safety

Travel by public transportation is usually secure, although common sense should prevail if you are unfamiliar with the local crime situation. Take precautions particularly in the evening. Travel during the day is safest. Use the highest class of travel and the most direct booking available. If overnight travel is required, book tickets only on international rail lines, in a lockable cabin. Never travel alone. Do not accept food or drink from strangers, as criminals are known to drug unsuspecting travelers, especially foreigners. Train stations are usually open 24 hours a day and do not have security to control access. Keep your luggage and other possessions in sight. Avoid using the station’s public restrooms if they are vacant or not guarded by an attendant.
In larger cities, subways, buses, commuter trains, trolleys and their associated stations are havens for thieves, pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Fanny and tummy packs should never be used since they identify to thieves the exact location of valuable items and cash. Use security pouches under your clothing or money belts. Keep loose items, such as cameras and purses, within a larger and securable carrying bag that is kept in front of you, never behind.
Taxis usually provide a more secure means of transport, but you face the possibility of being scammed into paying higher fares.


Large-scale demonstrations and strikes occur and are usually associated with labor and political issues. Most demonstrations are peaceful, but random acts of violence can occur. Transportation and other public services may be limited or unavailable during strikes and demonstrations. 
Avoid all large gatherings related to civil issues. Even seemingly peaceful rallies can spur violent activity or be met with resistance by security forces. Bystanders may be arrested or harmed by security forces using water cannons, tear gas, or other measures to control crowds. If violence erupts or you feel it is imminent, leave the area. If you cannot leave the area, seek shelter in large, public buildings such as hotels, churches, stores, hospitals, and museums. Wait until the crowds have dissipated before going back outside.

Fire Safety

UCEAP strongly encourages you to buy a portable battery-operated smoke alarm for use while traveling. For information, read the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad section on Fire Safety.

Emergency Contacts

What Is an Emergency?
An emergency is a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action. The following are considered emergencies:
  • Any life/death situation
  • A traumatic event requiring immediate assistance
  • An arrest
  • Civil unrest or natural disaster in the host country
In an Emergency
Contact local emergency services first and then contact the following:
If you are in the U.S.
  • During office hours (8 a.m.–5 p.m. Pacific Time): Contact your Operations Specialist at the UCEAP Systemwide Office
  • After office hours: Call the 24-hour emergency phone number at (805) 893-4762
If you are abroad
  • If you need immediate emergency assistance call 112 for Police, Ambulance, or Fire Department
  • If necessary, call the emergency number of the U.S. Embassy in Madrid: (+34) 91-587-2200. Business hours are M–F 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit
Calle Serrano 75 28006
Madrid, Spain
Phone: (+34) 91-587-2240
After-Hours Emergency Phone: (+34) 91-587-2200
If you have a health, travel, or safety emergency and do not have access to local or UCEAP representative emergency information, contact the UCEAP travel assistance provider, Europ Assistance, available 24/7:
Call international collect: 1+202-828-5896
Call within the U.S.: 1+866-451-7606
The University of California, in accordance with applicable Federal and State law and University policy, does not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, pregnancy,* disability, age, medical condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era veteran or special disabled veteran. The University also prohibits sexual harassment. This nondiscrimination policy covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs and activities. Inquiries regarding the University’s student-related nondiscrimination policies may be directed to the campus Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action office.

* Pregnancy includes pregnancy, childbirth, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.