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Madrid, Spain
Approx. Time Difference
March–Add 9 hours
Language & Culture, UC Center Madrid - Summer

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.

“I loved the experience of being immersed in a completely different culture and language.  To anyone adventurous enough to venture out into the unknown, EAP is one of the best programs to venture with!  ACCENT was very helpful, informative, and supportive throughout the duration of the program.”       

                                                                                       ~2011 Participant  ​


Click a heading below to see section content.
Your UCEAP Network

Study Centers Abroad

UCEAP programs in Spain are administered by UC faculty and staff. UCEAP administers the summer Language & Culture program in Madrid in close and continual collaboration with ACCENT International, a provider of student services for a number of study abroad programs worldwide. ACCENT’s Madrid office is located next to the Instituto Internacional, where the summer courses take place. ACCENT is responsible for most of the logistics of the program.

ACCENT Offices/UC Center Madrid

ACCENT Madrid Center
Victor Gonzalez, Director
Vanessa Rodriguez Garcia, Programs Coordinator
C/Miguel Angel, 6 bajo 9
28010 Madrid, Spain
Phone: (+34) 91 308 59 79
Fax: (+34) 91 308-6348
Courses will be held in the Instituto Internacional, next door to the ACCENT Madrid Center.
Instituto Internacional
C/ Miguel Angel, 8
28010 Madrid, Spain
The UC Study Center Director, Professor Stephen Small, is responsible for all UCEAP Spain programs. He will maintain an office at the Madrid Study Center and will be available to assist students with academic or personal concerns.

UCEAP Spain Study Center Director


Prof. Stephen Small
Centro de Estudios de la Universidad de California
Facultad de Ciencias Políticas y Sociología
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Despacho Nº 1601
28223 Madrid, Spain
Phone: (+34) 91-352-2402

Academic Information
Program Overview
The seven-week Madrid summer program features intensive work on both oral and written language. Instruction is offered at three levels:
  • The first level (Spanish 32) is equivalent to the first two quarters of UC Spanish
  • The second level (Spanish 33) is equivalent to the second two quarters, which would bring you up to one academic year of UC language instruction
  • The third level (Spanish 34) is the equivalent of the first two quarters of second-year Spanish
There are also two required excursions outside the capital that offer you a break from the academic routine and an opportunity to explore different parts of Spain.
See the Extracurricular Activities chapter of this guide for more information about the excursions.
Classes are planned so that activities to enhance the four skills of listening, reading, writing, and speaking are coordinated and work together. Whenever possible, elements of the madrileño surroundings are incorporated to lend authenticity to the language instruction. In addition, materials from the culture course and excursions outside of the classroom are similarly coordinated. In effect, you will have intense instruction within the classroom and will be using Madrid as your “language lab.”
This intensive program requires your active participation in order to maintain the pace. Students who miss classes or assignments are likely to fall behind quickly and have a difficult time keeping up during the final weeks of the program. Given that there is ample time allowed for more informal experiences of Spain, your academic studies should have your full attention during the short span of the program.
Academic Culture
Course Information
Because you receive and complete a placement test before leaving California, your classes will already be organized when you arrive in Madrid. A short interview with the instructors during the first two days of the program will confirm your language placement.
Classes are held in the Instituto Internacional, a turn-of-­the-century building in the engaging neighborhood of Chamberí. In addition to classrooms, the Instituto offers language labs, a library, a café, a garden, and Internet access for students with laptops. The office for ACCENT and UCEAP staff is next door to the Instituto. The city of Madrid is treated as your living language lab, and frequent visits to museums and other sites of cultural significance characterize the program.
Regular classes are held Monday through Thursday until 4 p.m. Additional activities are scheduled on some weekends.

Registration and Requirements

After you are placed in the appropriate language level, you will register your courses on your MyEAP Study List. You are required to take two courses for a total of 12 quarter units:
  1. Spanish language (10 UC lower-division quarter units)
  2. Spanish culture and civilization (2 UC lower-division quarter units)
The culture course is typically taught in English, but one section may be taught in Spanish depending on interest and size of the participant group.
The language course must be taken for a letter grade, but you can opt to take the culture course for a Pass/No Pass grade. 
Both UCEAP and ACCENT administration consider attendance at all classes mandatory. You are allowed a total of two absences during the program. Each absence beyond the limit will result in a deduction of 3 percent from your raw total. An absence occurring on a day a quiz or exam is scheduled or an assignment is due will result in a zero for that quiz/exam or assignment. There will be no make-ups permitted.
Poor attendance and lack of participation in all required activities will have a negative impact on your final grade.
Grades for this program are usually available about a month after the program ends and may not arrive in time to accommodate your summer degree verification deadline.
For information about grades, see the Academic Information chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
Extending UCEAP Participation
It is occasionally possible to participate in two different UCEAP options consecutively. For example, you might choose to finish your first year of Spanish during the summer in Madrid before participating in the Córdoba Language and Culture fall semester program.
Participation in back-to-back programs requires an exceptional level of organization and maturity. You must be able to plan in advance and prepare for the second program while completing the first. Decide early if you would like to participate in a second program in order to complete necessary preparations while still at your UC campus.
To participate in a program immediately following the Madrid summer program, you must submit a separate application by the campus deadline (which may be the same as the application deadline for the Madrid summer program) and go through the regular UCEAP selection process for each program. Since personal interviews often are a part of the selection process, you must apply for both programs before leaving the U.S. for Spain. Check with your Campus EAP Office to see if they impose any other restrictions.
Once your participation in the second program has been approved, UCEAP will notify your home campus registrar, Financial Aid Office, and Campus EAP Office.
If you are planning to participate in consecutive programs:
  • Contact the Operations Specialist at the UCEAP Systemwide Office in charge of the programs you will be attending; let the specialist know your plans and ask about any additional paperwork required.
  • Provide both the Systemwide Office and your campus advisor with a working e-mail address and plan to check this e-mail often while abroad.
  • Submit all required predeparture materials for both programs to UCEAP before leaving California.
  • Anticipate your visa requirements; contact the UCEAP Systemwide Office and the Spanish consulate for visa information.
  • Contact your campus financial aid officer and the UCEAP Student Finance Coordinator before leaving for Spain to ensure that your finances are in order for both programs.

Program Options & Requirements

You must have a valid student visa in order to register for fall classes.


If you plan to attend a fall or year program, you must apply for a Spain student visa before you depart for the Madrid summer program. This is a time-consuming process and must be completed before departure, so start early. You cannot enter Spain as a tourist and obtain a student visa after arrival. Contact the Operations Specialist and the Spanish consulate for more information.

Extension Options to Fall & Year Program Options

Language & Culture Fall program at the University of Córdoba

Requirements at the time of application (you cannot use grades or credits earned in Madrid to qualify for this program):
  • 2.5 cumulative GPA
  • 2.5 language GPA
  • Place into the intermediate language course at the Madrid summer program (SPAN 33) prior to departure
If you wish to continue to Córdoba after completing the Madrid summer program, you must receive endorsement by the Study Center Director. The director will evaluate your performance during the summer program to verify that you will successfully complete the first year of Spanish. You must complete a separate application to the Language & Culture fall program at the University of Córdoba by the campus deadline to be considered for this program.

Fall or Year Immersion Programs

(Includes Autonomous University of Barcelona, Complutense University of Madrid, University of Barcelona, the University of Granada, and the Hispanic Studies Program at Carlos III University of Madrid.)
Requirements at the time of application (you cannot use grades or credits earned in Madrid to qualify for these programs):
  • 2.85 cumulative GPA
  • 2.85 language GPA
  • Place into the highest language course at the Madrid summer program (SPAN 34) and have completed three quarters or two semesters of Spanish at your home campus prior to departure
If you wish to continue to fall and year immersion programs or the Hispanic Studies program at Carlos III University after completing the Madrid summer program, you must receive endorsement by the Study Center Director. The director will evaluate your performance during the summer program to verify that you will successfully complete the second year of Spanish. You must complete a separate application to the fall and year programs by the campus deadline to be considered for these programs.

Time between Programs

The Madrid summer program ends in early August and fall programs do not begin until late August or early September. It is important that you plan for this gap between the end of the summer program and the beginning of your fall program. You will be responsible for all costs associated with daily living (housing, meals, travel, insurance, etc.) until the start of your fall program.
Cultural Awareness
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.

An especially valuable resource for Spain is the Spanish government website, which provides video clips and plenty of other visuals and text as context for suggested travel routes. The ACCENT website also has useful background information about the Instituto Internacional and the neighborhood in which you’ll be spending a lot of time, and the ACCENT blog includes links to local events, stores, and services.

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. You can find many of these in English. Take a look at El País to see what is featured in Spain’s most widely distributed newspaper (in Spanish).
Social Conduct
Intolerance and Harassment
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation


The official UCEAP arrival day is dedicated to student arrival and housing check-in. After arriving at the UC Center Madrid, you will receive a welcome packet and your housing assignment. You will then continue on to either your apartment or homestay. If you arrive early in the day, the staff can advise you about easy walking activities.
The day-long official UCEAP orientation takes place the day after arrival. During this orientation, you will take a tour of the UC Center Madrid and Instituto Internacional facilities. The UCEAP and ACCENT staff will introduce themselves and review all practical components of the Madrid summer program including program calendar, academics, housing, student services, computer access, health, safety, emergencies, money and banking, communication, and public transportation. You will receive a program calendar, maps, and emergency phone numbers. The orientation will also address the purpose, expectations, and goals of the program.
The orientation includes a walking tour of Madrid’s historical center. During the first week of the program there will be a welcome reception for all students.
Travel Planning
Travel to 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.
U.S. citizens must have a U.S. passport valid for at least three months beyond the intended stay. You will also need airline tickets and documents showing return or onward travel. A visa is not required for tourist stays up to 90 days. As the Madrid summer program runs for fewer than 90 days, U.S. citizens do not need a visa; enter Spain as a tourist. Keep in mind that this 90-day period begins when you enter any of the Schengen countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden). If you are traveling on your own and
plan to be in Spain or any combination of the above countries for more than 90 days, contact the Spanish consulate before you depart. Non-U.S. citizens should contact the Spanish consulate early for entry requirements.
See the Extending UCEAP Participation chapter in this guide for visa requirements if you are staying in Spain to study after the summer program.
Packing Tips
Return Travel
Financial Information
Understanding Your Finances
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
Handling Money Abroad
The official currency unit in Spain is the euro, abbreviated EUR or €. Prices are posted using a comma instead of a period, for example €5,75 is five euros and 75 cents.


  • Be sure to have more than one way to access money while abroad. 
    Arrive in Spain with at least €200 (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.

Before Departure

It is important that you plan your finances carefully, and that you prepare before departure in order to ensure access to your money while abroad.
Determine how to contact your bank and credit card companies from abroad, if necessary, to report a lost or stolen ATM or credit card and to obtain a replacement. E-mail yourself the contact numbers for your banks and credit card companies so that you can access them easily if you are traveling. Write down your ATM and credit card numbers and keep this information at home in Spain, to help with the replacement process in case a card is lost or stolen.
Notify your bank and credit card companies that you will be traveling overseas. This will prevent them from questioning unusual activity and possibly canceling your cards.

Check with your home bank to see if your ATM card has international access (Cirrus and Plus systems are common throughout Europe) and whether it can be used in Spain. Contact your bank to change your PIN, if necessary (keep in mind when choosing a PIN that ATMs overseas do not have letters on the keypads as they do in the U.S.).

In addition, ask your bank if there is a daily withdrawal limit (there may be European ATM withdrawal limitations) and obtain information on any fees your bank may charge for using an international ATM. The ATMs in Spain may also charge a small usage fee.

Take an ATM card linked to your checking account rather than your savings account. Students have had trouble accessing their savings accounts from Europe. Many banks and credit cards offer online services, which will allow you to check account balances and pay bills quickly while abroad. Be sure to check with your bank about online banking fees and transfer limits.

While abroad you may need to obtain a cash advance with your Visa or MasterCard from a bank offering this service, though this can be an expensive way to access cash. Before departure, find out what fees may apply for cash advances, and note that interest rates on cash advances are sometimes double that of purchases. Obtain an international PIN for your credit card in the event that you need to obtain a cash advance after hours. Your PIN is not usually required if the transaction is conducted inside the bank, but you must show your passport.
In recent years, students have had success using certain bank ATMs without extra fees. Students who have accounts with Bank of America have been able to use Barclays Bank ATMs without foreign transaction or third party fees. Students who have checking accounts with Charles Schwab have been able to use ATMs and Charles Schwab has refunded most of the fees charged by Spanish banks. Confirm these options with the banks before departure, as bank policies change frequently.

While in Madrid

Plan on using a combination of methods to handle money in case one fails (e.g., a local ATM is temporarily out of service). Do not rely solely on one form of access to currency.
You will have to cover the costs of daily transportation, books and school supplies, and personal items, among others. Many past students found that their living costs were much greater than expected and suggested that $1,000– $2,000 should be budgeted for extra spending money. The cost of living in Spain, and especially Madrid, can be high.


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 traveler’s 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. Travelers checks are extremely helpful if you plan to open a bank account in Spain. 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.

Western Union

Western Union can be used to have money sent 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 online or the local telephone book for the number and address of the nearest office or check their website.
Communications Abroad
Internet Access
​Take a laptop to Madrid if you have one. Laptop Internet connections and WiFi access are available free of charge at the Instituto Internacional, which is where courses will be held. You can connect to the Internet at the UC Center using an Ethernet cable (plug-ins are located throughout the building) or through a wireless network (if your laptop has a wireless card). In addition, there is a printer available via the Ethernet network for use on a pay-per-page basis. Internet access is available in most homestay and apartment assignments but it may not be wireless.
The majority of students also utilize Internet cafés, which are common and popular in Spain, to access the Internet and write and print papers.
If you do not take a laptop, there are just five laptops available only during ACCENT’s office hours and with a sign-up system. There may be up to 100 students on the Madrid summer program, so the wait will be significant. Plan to take your own laptop.

Apartment Phone Use

Student apartments are not equipped with telephone lines, so you will need to use a cell phone or outside phone to make any calls. There are pay phones located throughout the city. For all pay phones, you will need to purchase a tarjeta telefónica (phone card) from a quiosco or estanco. The topic of tarjeta telefónica, where to buy them, and how to use them will be covered in depth at your on-site orientation in Madrid.
Mail & Shipments
Regardless of your accommodations (homestay or apartment), your mail and any packages should be sent to the UC Center Madrid. You will be assigned your own mailbox.
Address mail as follows:
[Your Name]
ACCENT Madrid Center
C/Miguel Angel, 6 bajo 9
28010 Madrid – Spain
Be sure to write “Airmail” on all mail sent overseas and pay the appropriate postage as surface mail can take up to three months to arrive. Past students say that airmail from the U.S. takes two to six weeks to arrive.
Receiving packages overseas can be costly. Any package valued at more than 22 euros, including shipping costs, may be subject to customs charges. Large packages are not delivered and you must pick them up at a distant facility or at the cargo airport. Written notification is usually sent to the recipient and the package is held at a central storage location until the recipient retrieves it. Daily storage charges often are imposed on  packages that are not retrieved immediately.
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. Customs charges are usually based on the dollar value declared when a package is sent; however, 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; all packages 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. 
In the event that a package arrives, the ACCENT staff will sign for it and keep it at the UC Center until you are able to pick it up. If a package is not addressed c/o ACCENT Madrid Center or if customs charges a fee, the staff will be unable to sign for a package. In such cases, a message will be left in your mailbox letting you know where to pick it up. It is important to remember that packages sent to you overseas and any customs charges incurred are your direct responsibility. UCEAP cannot intervene on your behalf with the local Postal Service if there are problems receiving your packages. In addition, any packages that arrive after the program end date cannot be forwarded or returned.
If you need to receive important documents overseas, you must use private express mail (Federal Express, 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.
Housing & Meals
Housing Options
UCEAP/ACCENT-arranged housing options offer you a choice of a homestay or shared apartment. It is not possible to secure your own housing. You must live in the arranged program housing.
In a homestay you will live with a Spanish family, and in an apartment you will live with other UC or international students. One of the main differences between the two options is that a homestay includes breakfast and dinner prepared each day by your host, while in an apartment all meals will be your responsibility. The initial cost of a homestay is higher to reflect the price of the included meals but still less than the expense of cooking for yourself.


Although each homestay varies regarding amenities and the lifestyles of the hosts, every effort will be made to place you in an environment where you can speak Spanish and observe and participate in the everyday routines of your Madrid family. If you are considering a homestay, become familiar enough with the Spanish language to participate in basic conversations. Host families are carefully pre-screened, and most families have hosted students in the past.

Homestay accommodations provide the opportunity to live with Spanish families, observe firsthand how the Spanish live, and be more fully immersed in the language and culture of Spain. Living in a homestay requires respect and sensitivity to others. Many past participants recommend a homestay over an apartment as a way to reinforce language learning and to make life a little easier.

Homes and rooms in Spain tend to be smaller than in California. Storage space tends to be limited and amenities may be different from what you are accustomed to in the U.S. (for example, many rooms do not have closets). You will be provided a single room and a place to study. Rooms will be furnished with fans. Homestays will be fully furnished; you do not need to take towels or bedding with you. You will need to take your own toiletries.

Be mindful of how common areas are used (e.g., it is probably inappropriate to study in the living room if someone wants to watch TV).

In a homestay, your host will provide one average European-sized load of laundry per week (approximately nine pounds; includes hang drying, ironing, and folding). You are expected to sort your clothes and leave them in the location designated by your host.

Keep in mind that every homestay situation is different and Spanish households come in as many varieties as U.S. households. The term “homestay” does not necessarily indicate a nuclear family that will treat you as a member of the family; hosts may be single or married, young or old, and may or may not have children living at home. All homestays consist of a host or hosts who rent out an extra room or rooms to international students in order to earn additional income. They may include you in family events or may treat you as more of a paying tenant.

Be open, observant, and aware. The homestay is intended to be a mutually convenient social arrangement, a cultural experience, and a financial agreement between you and your host family. At the same time, the home is intended to be more than just a place to stay: it is a family setting, and it is imperative that you take local customs into account as the family comes to know you. Ideally, you will become part of the family, but to do so requires time, patience, sensitivity, negotiation, and understanding. Dialogue and consideration are usually the best vehicles for good results.

The primary purposes of being with a host family are to interact socially and culturally, and to improve language proficiency in Spanish. It is expected that everyone, including other guests in the home, will speak Spanish at all times. If a host family requests that you speak in English, it may be beneficial to work out a reciprocal arrangement whereby you occasionally speak in English, while remaining committed to using their help to learn Spanish.


Several UC or international students will share an apartment. Because it is summer, it is unlikely that you will live with Spaniards. If you choose to live in an apartment, you will likely spend a significant amount of time with the same group of students; you will attend class each day and travel on weekend excursions with your roommates. Many students enjoy this aspect of apartment living.

Each apartment is unique and will vary in size, condition, and proximity to your classes. Keep in mind that living standards in Europe are different from those in the U.S., and apartments tend to be smaller and older.
Student apartments tend to be comfortable but simple. The rooms are furnished with a bed (including sheets, pillows, and blankets) and a closet or armoire, but minimal storage space. Keep this in mind when packing your bags. You will need to take your own towels, soap, shampoo, etc.  Bathrooms are small and usually there is only one bathroom per apartment. (In apartments with seven or more students, there is a minimum of two bathrooms.) Kitchen facilities include a cooking range, a refrigerator, and basic cooking utensils shared by everyone in the apartment. Each apartment will have one or more areas for studying, which will include a table or desk. Apartments will be furnished with fans.
All apartments have a washing machine, but they will not have dryers due to the high cost of electricity in Madrid.

Housing Details

Location: Homestays and apartments are located throughout Madrid. You can expect anywhere from a 30- to 45-minute walk, Metro, or bus ride to get to class. Commuting is a regular part of the life of a madrileño.
Living arrangements: Homestays may accommodate a number of UC or international students (each in a single room) and are generally
Apartments are co-ed, with single-sex bedrooms, and are shared with other UC or international students. Up to ten people may share an apartment, in a combination of double rooms and the occasional single bedroom.
Guests: If you live in a homestay, you must first get your host’s approval to bring a guest home, even another UCEAP student.
Overnight guests in the apartments are not allowed.

Arrival & departure: You will meet your host family or receive your apartment assignment once you arrive in Madrid. You will not receive any homestay or apartment information prior to departure. It is not possible to arrive early to a homestay or apartment, or to extend your housing arrangement. If you arrive early or plan to remain in Madrid after the program, you must arrange your own accommodations.
Housing assignments: Prior to departure, you will complete a housing questionnaire, which will be used by the ACCENT staff to help place you in a homestay or apartment suitable to your needs. It is crucial you take the questionnaire seriously and answer all the questions thoughtfully. Past students recommend you be specific and honest about your needs, even while realizing that perhaps not all of them may be met.
Requests to change housing assignment: If you have a problem with your housing, immediately meet with the ACCENT staff and discuss the situation. Do not move out of a homestay or apartment without consulting ACCENT staff. You may not make housing changes or arrangements on your own. If you do move out without consulting ACCENT staff, you will be in violation of UCEAP and ACCENT policy and risk being dismissed from the program.

Cost: Lodging costs are included in the program fees you pay to UCEAP, as are costs of any meals provided by the host family. Once in Spain, you will pay directly for any meals not included in the housing arrangement. Due to the included meals and laundry, a homestay arrangement carries a higher fee than an apartment arrangement. Check the UCEAP Student Budget, located in the Money Matters section of your Participants page for housing costs.
Rules & contract: All students will sign a housing contract, and consequences of breaking the contract range up to expulsion from the program. You will receive a set of “Family Living Guidelines” when you arrive in Madrid to help you adjust more smoothly to your accommodations. In the meantime, keep the following in mind:

Homestay: Remember that many Spaniards smoke, even in the house. Since you are living in a family environment, adhere to the customs established in the house for all members of the household. Be considerate as to your arrival times at night and in the early morning hours. Be aware of noise level and avoid rowdy behavior when others might be sleeping.

Apartment: Electricity is expensive in Madrid. Be conservative with energy use. As it states in your housing contract, you will be billed for any electricity you use over an “average” Spanish amount. The apartment buildings are home to Spanish families and others, and though there are no curfews, quiet hours are generally observed between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. Excessive noise is prohibited by law and Spaniards are serious about this; residents have the right to call the authorities after 11 p.m. Parties are not allowed in the apartments, and students who violate these rules will be expelled.
In a homestay, some meals are included; in an apartment, no meals are included. Check the UCEAP Student Budget in your Participants program page for meal cost estimates. More details are below.
Homestay: Your host will prepare breakfast and dinner each day. You are responsible for purchasing any other meals, including the midday meal, which is the main meal of the day. Outside of provided meals, you will not have access to the kitchen, and keep this in mind when budgeting for food.
Apartment: Shopping for food and preparing all meals will be your responsibility; however, there are many types of markets available for your grocery needs. The Spanish buy much of their groceries at family-owned specialty corner stores. You’ll find these for fruits/vegetables, seafood, pork, baked goods, and more. Prices are mid-range, and service, if you frequent them often, 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 take 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.

Eating Out

Madrid offers endless options for eating out. The UC Center staff can provide a list of cheap and chic restaurants around Madrid. 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 throughout Madrid, which are good places for a quick snack. Besides tapas, there are salad bars, which are a great option for lunch. They offer unlimited salads, pastas, soups, desserts, and beverages 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.
There are many restaurants in the vicinity of the UC Center. A full fixed-price lunch, including a drink, bread, starter, main course, and dessert averages about €9 at restaurants near the UC Center. Shopping in the markets is another great way to experience Spanish cuisine.
In addition, there is a small cafeteria inside the Instituto Internacional where you can purchase sandwiches (from €2,50 to €5) and other light snacks. (Note: this cafeteria is closed in August.)
Daily Life Abroad
Local Transportation
During your stay in Madrid, your primary mode of transportation will be the nearest form of public transportation, including buses and the Metro, or just walking. It is helpful to have an idea of the Madrid transit system before you depart. Maps of the Madrid transit system are readily available online and will be provided in the program materials available at orientation.
Public transportation passes, called abonos de transportes, are available to purchase once in Madrid. These all-purpose monthly passes are good for unlimited rides on the Madrid Metro, buses, and trenes de cercanias (suburban trains) within a specific number of “zones.” As of January 2012, a monthly pass covering all of central Madrid costs €30,50 for those under 23 years old and €47,60 if over 23. Costs for transportation without the abono are much higher. However, you may need to buy a ten-ride ticket (€9,30) or single tickets (€1) during your first days in Madrid until July 1 as abonos are valid monthly from the first to the final day of the month. Ten-ride and single tickets can be purchased from tobacco shops, Metro ticket booths, and bus company kiosks located throughout Madrid.
Extracurricular Activities


The ACCENT staff arranges excursions for opportunities to travel outside Madrid. These excursions are included in the cost of the program and attendance is required. The dates and locations of the excursions will be announced closer to the start date of the program.


In Spain it is cheaper and more convenient to stay in hostels that are not affiliated with the Youth Hostel Card.
Virtually every destination of interest within Spain is served by trains, buses, or both, making weekend and break travel easy. If you are interested in traveling while abroad, you 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, keep in mind that UCEAP is primarily an academic program. Do not make plans to travel until after you have arrived in Madrid and received the course schedule for the summer. Repeated unexcused absences from class will be noticed and will affect your grade. 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 opportunities on weekends to travel without missing classes, and the best opportunity is after the program ends in August.

Get Involved

Participating in extracurricular cultural and social activities while on UCEAP is an excellent way to meet people, improve your language skills, and integrate more fully into the community.
The ACCENT staff will have information on cultural and social events, and will organize a number of activities for the program, which will vary depending on availability and student interest. Activities might include:
  • Tapas evening at a typical Spanish restaurant
  • Paella restaurant dinner
  • “Madrid on a Budget” walking tour will show you how to save money during your stay in Madrid
  • An evening performance of flamenco, theater, or Zarzuela (Spanish operetta)
  • Art of Bullfighting Conference, which covers the cultural and historical aspects of the bullfighting tradition
  • A few days after the conference, attend a bullfight at Plaza de Toros de  las Ventas
  • Spanish Cinema Conference, followed by a Spanish movie (with subtitles in English)
  • Scavenger Hunt at Retiro Park
  • Day trip to the coolest swimming pool in Madrid
Students with Disabilities
The Instituto has a scanner, screen magnification software, and cassette recorders— all available upon request. Adaptive equipment for students with visual disabilities can be obtained from ONCE (the national organization for the blind, Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles). Some programs have had students with learning disabilities. Advance copies of syllabi, modified deadlines, taped lectures, extra exam time, and quiet spaces for exams are available. The staff is flexible and willing to make additional accommodations upon advanced request. Follow procedures stipulated in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
Travel Sign-out Form
UCEAP Insurance
Staying Healthy
Local Medical Facilities
A high level of medical care comparable to that in other industrialized countries is available throughout the country in private hospitals and clinics.  
UCEAP students can make appointments to go to Unidad Medica in Madrid without upfront payment.  Europ Assistance/USA (EA/USA), UCEAP assistance providers, will cover the cost directly through their agents in Spain. If you require emergency medical care, go to the nearest hospital to Urgencias, for immediate attention and call ACCENT staff immediately.
If you are sick, follow the procedures below for Unidad Medica or HospiQuality:
Unidad Medica
  1. Make an appointment with Unidad Medica. Telephone numbers:  91 435 1823; 91 5755134; 649 870068. Identify  yourself as a University of California-Education Abroad Program student (Policy number:  ADDN 04834823). 
  2. Call Europ Assistance (EA/USA) to let them know when you have your appointment.
    Call through AT&T 900 99 00 11 for a collect-call (in English) the Europ Assistance US telephone number is 1-202- 828-5896 
  3. Go to Unidad Medica on the day of your appointment.
    Address: C/Conde de Aranda 1, 1º izquierda Madrid 28001
    Metro: Serrano (line 4); Retiro (Line 2)
    Monday through Friday they have uninterrupted hours from 9:00h until 20:00h and on Saturdays from 10:00h to 13:00h.
    All staff, doctors, nurses and administration are English speaking.
    More info:
HospiQuality is linked to a hospital and clinic, which are near the ACCENT Center (about a 15 minute walk or 5 minute bus ride).  You can go for emergency walk ins and for appointments.
  1. Make an appointment with HospiQuality. Telephone numbers:  629 82 34 93 (09:00h-21:00h); 629 82 40 20 (21:00h-09:00h) Monday through Sunday. Identify yourself as a University of California-Education Abroad Program student (Policy number: ADDN 04834823).
  2. Europ Assistance to let them know when you have your appointment. Call through AT&T 900 99 00 11 for a collect-call (in English) the Europ Assistance US telephone number is 1-202- 828-5896
  3. Go to HM Hospital Universitario Madrid on the day of your appointment and ask for HospiQuality at the hospital reception desk. Address: Pza. Conde del Valle Suchil, 16 28015 Madrid Metro: San Bernardo (line 4); San Bernardo y Quevedo (Line 2)
All HospiQuality staff are English speaking and will help you communicate with health practitioners.
If you choose, you may also go to any medical center, pay up front, and request reimbursement later through your UCEAP insurance.
Physical Health
If you feel sick or have a medical emergency, seek medical attention and contact the UC Center immediately. The UC Center will help you choose a clinic, advise you on the online UCEAP medical insurance claim process, and make arrangements with your professors if extended absenteeism is expected.
Let the UC Center know of any medical services received, even if it was not an emergency.
Prescription Medications
Regulations regarding medications vary from the U.S.  Never send medication to Spain or have it sent. Spanish regulations do not permit the international shipment of medication.Plan to take enough prescription medication to last the length of your stay or make an appointment with a local doctor.
Consult with your doctor(s) and the UCEAP assistance 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. Also, be sure to take copies of all prescriptions, including the generic names for medications, and a note from the prescribing physician on letterhead stationery.
Contact Europ Assistance/USA, UCEAP’s travel assistance provider, at 1+ (866) 451-7606 before departure to make sure any required medications are not considered illegal narcotics.
Mental Health
Health Risks
​Risk of traveler's diarrhea is minimal to moderate. Food and beverage precautions are essential to reduce chance of illness. The consumption of raw sprouts should be avoided.
Staying Safe
Minimize Risk
Crime & Prevention
All Study Center Directors are members of the U.S. embassy’s Warden Network, which allows the U.S. embassy to stay in communication with, and disseminate information to, the American community primarily in times of crisis or emergency.
Remain alert to their personal security and exercise caution at all times. Be especially careful in crowds.
Avoid carrying your passport whenever possible (leave it in a secure place). Make a clear photocopy of the first page (the one with your photo) and carry that for identification. In case of loss or theft of your passport, immediately notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, local authorities, and the ACCENT staff.
The greatest security threat is petty crime, such as pick-pocketing, mugging, and property theft. Pickpockets and thieves are active throughout Madrid, especially in and around tourist areas. While this can occur year-round, it is especially common during the summer months when tourism is at its highest.
Most petty crimes are committed by groups of young persons using distraction tactics. 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:
Know where you are going, do not appear lost, blend in, and watch your personal belongings at all times. 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.
Dress to blend in.
College sweatshirts, sweatpants, baseball caps, flip-flops, and shorts are all associated with Americans and may make you a likely target.

To better protect your belongings
Always be aware of your surroundings. Thieves usually wait for or cause a distraction and then make their move. This could be as simple as asking for the time so that you turn to look at your watch. Be alert and be aware.
  • Never carry large amounts of cash.
  • Avoid carrying a purse or wallet. You will often be in crowded areas that are prime hunting grounds for pickpockets and purse-snatchers.
  • If you must carry a wallet, carry it in a front or breast pocket, or in an undercover hidden money belt and document security pouch—never in your back pocket. Wrap it with a rubber band— this creates friction, making it harder to pickpocket—or use a chain to attach your wallet to a belt loop.
  • If you must carry a purse, keep it closed, place the strap over one shoulder (not around your neck), keep the purse to your front, and keep your hand on it.
  • At a restaurant or on a train or bus, never put your purse, backpack, or laptop by your feet or on the 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.
  • If you are using a backpack, do not store your camera or other valuables where they can be removed without notice. Do not leave your backpack out of sight or within easy reach by others.
  • When in crowds or on the Metro, carry your backpack or bag in front of you, where you can see it. It’s also a good idea to keep your hand on your purse or in your wallet pocket.
  • Leave anything you do not need on a particular day at your apartment or homestay in a secure place.
Civil Unrest
Demonstrations and Protests
Demonstrations, rallies, and protests are common in Madrid and are usually in reaction to labor disputes or domestic and foreign policy issues. Most demonstrations and protests are nonviolent, but violence may erupt. If you find yourself caught in the middle of a protest, seek shelter. Keep a mental note of safe havens—such as police stations, hotels, and hospitals—and mark these on a local map.

Demonstrations & Protests

Traffic & Transportation Safety
Use only officially licensed taxis. They are governed by strict legislation and standards are higher than in unlicensed taxis. Licensed taxis are normally white with a red diagonal band on the door and will display a LIBRE (free) sign or an illuminated green light at night when they are available. Look for the taximeter inside and word TAXI painted on the outside. Asking for a receipt will deter most drivers from overcharging. Most cities have phone reservation and radio dispatch services for added security. 
UCEAP Contingency Plans
Fire Safety
Forest Fires
Forest fires occur frequently in Spain during the summer months, especially in southern areas of the country.
In An Emergency
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.