Approx. Time Difference
March–Add 9 hours
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, health and safey, finances, and much more.
Remember to also visit the Participants
section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
“More than just traveling, UCEAP offers the opportunity to live and study in the host country on their terms while still making real progress toward a UC degree. I changed my major from biology to Spanish literature because of my experiences in Mexico and Spain. I went far away to learn about other cultures and nations and people, and I learned more about my own country, my own culture, and above all, myself. Once I finally did change my major, I received higher grades than I ever had. This I owe to my understanding of what was important to me, something I would never possess to the same extent that I do now were it not for UCEAP.”
~ Lenore De Asis, UC Irvine
While UCEAP endeavors to keep the information updated and accurate, all program information should be considered in conjunction with program-specific operational correspondence which may contain the most up to date information. There may be times where UCEAP will need to change this information and it will often be updated online. Student is responsible for reviewing all information shared through the program guides and by UCEAP staff in California and abroad, and partners abroad. UCEAP reserves the right to make changes to its programs, whenever, in our sole judgment local conditions so warrant, in response to local circumstances that could substantially change some parts of the program, or if we deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of our program participants.
Click a heading below to see section content.
Local UCEAP Support
Campus EAP Office
The Campus EAP Office coordinates recruitment, student selection, orientations, and academic advising; and serves as your primary contact during the application process.
UCEAP Systemwide Office
The UCEAP Systemwide Office establishes and operates programs and coordinates UCEAP administration for all UC campuses from its headquarters in Goleta, California. You will work closely with the following Systemwide Office staff:
Program Advisors provide academic and operational program information to you and your campus as well as administrative support for all aspects of your participation.
Program Specialists manage the logistics of the program. They coordinate document requirements, visa application instructions, health and safety precautions, acceptance and placement by host institutions, arrival and onsite orientation, and housing arrangements.
Academic Specialists advise on academic policies, review courses taken abroad for UC credit, and document your registration, grades, petitions and academic records.
Student Finance Accountants assist primarily with UCEAP statements, program fee collection, and financial aid disbursements (in conjunction with your campus Financial Aid Office).
Phone: (805) 893-2712
Student Finance Accountant
UCEAP Systemwide Office
6950 Hollister Avenue, Suite 200
Goleta, CA 93117-5823
Phone: (805) 893-4762; Fax: (805) 893-2583
Bookmark your Participants
program page. This resource lists requirements and policies you need to know before you go abroad, including your Pre-Departure 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
Study Centers Abroad
UC faculty and staff administer UCEAP programs in Spain. Every program in Spain has a corresponding UCEAP office that is staffed to assist program participants with academic, logistical, and personal concerns. The UC Faculty Director, who is responsible for all UCEAP Spain programs, will maintain an office at the Barcelona Study Center.
Carlos III Office
Rocío Navas, Sr. Admin Coordinator
Centro de Estudios de la Universidad de California
International School, Despacho 9.0.44
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
Calle Madrid, 126
UCEAP Faculty Director
Prof. Laura Marques-Pascual
Facultad de Filología
Universitat de Barcelona
Gran Vía de les Corts Catalanes, 585
08007 Barcelona, Spain
Phone: (+34) 680-336-938
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
Córdoba city code ................. 957
Approximate Time Difference
Add 9 hours
The Hispanic Studies program takes place at the Getafe campus of Carlos III University, located ten kilometers from the center of Madrid. This program allows you to focus on specific courses designed for international students to improve your Spanish language skills and deepen your knowledge of Spain’s history, culture, and contemporary society within the context of the rest of Europe.
You will be grouped with other UCEAP students for language study according to the results of the written and oral placement tests you will take just after arrival. Hispanic Studies courses are taught in Spanish by Carlos III faculty. If you would like more interaction with local Spanish students, you are also welcome to enroll in mini-cursos—short humanities courses and seminars—or, if your schedule permits, enroll in one regular Carlos III course.
Although you have the option to add on non-Hispanic Studies courses at Carlos III, this program has different course requirements from the "Carlos III Univ." option! Read through the Course Information section carefully!
For Hispanic Studies participants, the daily experience involves attending classes with your UCEAP peers. Past students report that classes are engaging and offer interesting insights into contemporary Spain (although students of different language levels have different experiences as far as the intensity of instruction).
The availability of mini-cursos—short courses in the humanities open to Hispanic Studies students, conducted by public figures from all walks of life—allows you to spend time in classrooms with Spanish students and focus on subjects of particular interest for parts of the semester. The option of adding a couple of mini-cursos into the core program enables you to adjust your academic pursuits and immersion into the Spanish university to the level at which you are comfortable.
Hispanic Studies students may also find it possible to add one regular Carlos III course to their program, though you should pay close attention to the fact that the class schedules for regular university courses, and dates of final exams in particular, will differ from those of the Hispanic Studies courses.
Students are encouraged to prepare by searching for courses early on and making tentative lists. Be advised, however, that the schedules for mini-cursos may not be ready until after you arrive in Spain. The Study Center Staff will be on-hand to review the registration process during orientation and assist with any questions you might have.
Explore the UCEAP website for additional course information (including important details and restrictions), links to host institution websites, and program
The UCEAP Study Center assists with official enrollment in Hispanic Studies courses, mini-cursos, and regular Carlos III courses. They also are available to answer questions regarding your MyEAP registration.
Descriptions of the Hispanic Studies courses can be found in the MyEAP Catalog
(look for courses that indicate "Hispanic Studies" in the "P Department" column), as well as the Carlos III Hispanic Studies Course Catalog
. To find regular course offerings (Titulaciones de Grado
), you will need to follow the link to a particular degree, then click through "Programa" to see the courses available.
Be aware that some of these courses have conflicting schedules and you may need to consider alternative classes that might fit your needs.
- Hispanic Studies participants can choose to take one regular Carlos III course.
- International students will have a shorter exam period in December when the Hispanic Studies programs end; because regular exams for degree-seeking students end in mid-January, grades may arrive in January-February.
- Final exams for regular courses in the spring take place about one month after the end of the Hispanic Studies program.
The humanities mini-cursos are much easier to schedule since they are more likely to require intense activity for short periods of time rather than a semester-long commitment. The program of mini-cursos is always exciting because politicians, artists, philosophers, scientists, professors, and other figures of note offer lecture series, conferences, or intensive short courses that are worth one or two UC quarter units. Consider taking a combination of these short courses to replace one Hispanic Studies course, or you add them on to a full Hispanic Studies course list.
Mini-cursos take place at different times during the semester. Depending on the schedule you may finish your mini-cursos early in the semester or at the same time as your other Hispanic studies courses. Be sure to pay attention to class and exam dates and check with the Study Center if you have any questions!
Mini-cursos require some flexibility on your part: schedules will not likely be ready until after you arrive in Spain and final grades may take longer to report than the Hispanic Studies grades. As soon as the schedule of classes for the mini-cursos is available, it will be posted at the Cursos de Humanidades page of the Carlos III website.
- On the website, Primer Cuatrimestre refers to the fall schedule, and Segundo Cuatrimestre refers to the spring schedule.
All students take a full-time course of study while abroad. You are required to enroll in a minimum of five courses to meet the program requirement of 22.5 - 25.0 quarter units (equivalent to 15 - 16.7 semester units) of UC credit. Spanish language is offered at various levels (all upper division), depending on placement by Carlos III.
- Two Spanish language courses
- Three Hispanic Studies courses
The units for one Hispanic Studies course may be substituted with
- One Spanish language course
- Four Hispanic Studies courses
- One regular Carlos III course, OR
- Two or more humanities mini-cursos (pay close attention to the unit values!)
Note: Hispanic Studies courses are worth 6 ECTS, equivalent to 5.0 quarter units (3.3 semester units) of UC credit. Units for regular university courses and humanities mini-cursos may vary.
See the units listed in the MyEAP Course Catalog or consult with the Study Center if you have concerns regarding course unit load.
- Class attendance is mandatory. Poor attendance and lack of participation will have a negative impact on your final grade.
- You may not approach professors to request early exams. Early departures are not allowed.
- Internships, research, and independent study projects for academic credit are not available on this program.
You will receive an automatic e-mail notification when your grades are transmitted to the UC Registrar. Although you will need to wait a while longer for grades to be posted to your official UC transcript, you will be able to view your grades through MyEAP at that time.
- Fall semester grades are usually available in late-January or early-February.
- Spring semester grades are usually available in late- June or early-July.
Be aware that grades for regular Carlos III courses (including the mini-cursos) may be delayed by the host university and may be posted later than grades for the Hispanic Studies courses. Pending grades will be noted with an "NR" (no report) in your MyEAP record.
For general information about grades, see the Academic Information
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
Extending UCEAP Participation
For 2016-17 Academic Year, students who have previously completed a UCEAP Program will receive a $600 discount on their participation. More information regarding the discount can be found on the UCEAP website.
UCEAP offers rich opportunities for combining different programs and extending your time abroad. As with most rewarding experiences, doing so 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.
It is possible to extend from the Carlos III Hispanic Studies fall program to the Carlos III spring immersion program (taking regular university courses) or to the Complutense University of Madrid spring immersion program.
If you think you might want to extend your studies in Spain, indicate your intention on the Departmental and College Preliminary Approval to Extend (DPA) form and submit it to UCEAP before departure.
Once in Spain, you must submit a Request for Final Approval
(RFA) of extension before November 1. The extension request must be supported by the Study Center Director, your UC campus department head, and your dean or provost.
UCEAP must approve your extension request. Requests for extensions are not guaranteed and are only considered when there is space in the program. If demand exceeds capacity, first priority will be given to spring applicants who have not yet participated in UCEAP. In such a case, extension applicants will be ranked by GPA, with priority going to those with the higher GPAs.
If your extension to a spring program is approved, you are expected to complete the academic year in Spain. A request to shorten the stay will be treated as a withdrawal from the program, with possible financial penalties.
Once your extension is approved, UCEAP will notify your UC campus registrar, Financial Aid Office, and Campus EAP Office. For information about the steps you need to take with regard to finances, see the Extension of Participation
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
Academic Requirements for Extension
If you are extending to the Carlos III immersion program (spring), you are also required to take a minimum load of 21 UC quarter units in order to meet minimum UC progress. Since regular Carlos III courses are usually worth 6 units each, you may meet the unit requirement by taking three regular courses plus a Hispanic Studies course or mini-curso, or by taking four regular Carlos III courses.
If you are extending, you can search for regular Carlos III courses through your MyEAP study list portal for the spring term. You may be able to see the schedule of classes, which is posted on the Undergraduate Programs
page of the Carlos III website.
If you submit an approved DPA form with your initial application, you should receive a university acceptance letter from Spain indicating that you will be studying in Spain for a full year. The acceptance letter will allow you to apply for a year-long visa and might help you avoid having to return to the U.S. to renew a semester visa.
Before departure, you should assign a parent or guardian as your Power of Attorney. If you decide to extend while you are in Spain, the Consulate will require a Power of Attorney notice from the individual submitting the visa documents on your behalf.
If you do not receive a year-long visa, you may be required to return to the U.S. between semesters to apply for a new visa.
Spring Program Housing
UCEAP does not arrange housing for students extending from fall to spring. You are responsible for finding, securing, and paying for your own housing for the spring semester. The Program Coordinators can offer advice.
Payment for the extension portion of the program is due by the final due date listed on the spring Payment Voucher. The campus Financial Aid Office will be advised of the revised budget based on the extension and any exceptions for your particular situation.
Time Between Programs
It is important that you plan for the gap in time between the end of the fall program and the beginning of the spring program.
Fall classes at Carlos III end in mid-December. The Carlos III spring program does not begin until mid-January and the spring program at the Complutense University of Madrid does not begin until late January/early February. Some participants decide to return to the U.S. during this period (you may have to in order to renew your student visa). If you remain in Spain between programs, you will be responsible for all costs associated with daily living, travel, insurance, housing, etc., until the start of your spring program.
If your extension to the spring program is approved, and you return to the U.S. in between programs, you will be covered up to 45 days while in the U.S.
If your extension to the spring program is approved and you remain abroad in between programs, you will only be covered up to 31 days after the official end of the fall program and starting only 14 days before the official start date of the spring program. Depending on your programs, you may have a three- to ten-day gap in your insurance coverage between programs. Therefore, if you remain abroad during the break between the fall and spring programs and want to be fully insured, refer to the Insurance tab of your Participants
page for procedures and forms. The cost of this extension coverage is not included in UCEAP fees.
Consecutive Programs: Continuing on UCEAP
In addition to the extension options, it is occasionally possible to participate in two different UCEAP programs consecutively. For example, a participant in a fall semester Spain program might choose to apply to a spring semester UCEAP program in Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, or Mexico.
If you would like to participate in two programs, 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. You must meet all selection criteria for both programs and your UC campus must select you to participate. The Campus EAP Office may impose other requirements as well.
You are expected to have background knowledge of Spain prior to arrival. Get acquainted with your new host city, country, and culture before you leave California. Travel guides and travel-related websites such as Lonely Planet
and Time Out
are excellent resources. Take a travel guidebook; they are more expensive and harder to find in Spain.
Read about the Spanish lifestyle so you will have an idea of 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). The Terra Internet portal
also offers daily updates and can provide insight on Spain’s media and popular culture.
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.
City of Madrid:
Before looking closely at any particular culture, one must generally understand what culture is and how it works. What people do and say in a particular culture—whether it be yours or that of your host country—is not arbitrary and spontaneous, but is consistent with what people in that culture value and believe. Cultural adjustment can be a trying experience but it is also challenging and enlightening, the kind of experience you would expect to have while studying abroad.
The first few weeks typically are hard for all students, regardless of who they are or what UCEAP program they are on. It is common for students to feel as though they are going through this adjustment alone, although most participants experience it. Typically, cross-cultural adjustment issues arise because travelers are uncertain about how to face certain everyday social encounters. Entering another country is both a geographic move as well as a psychological one.
In addition, while tourist season will be in full swing when you arrive for fall programs, most Spanish university students have not yet returned from summer vacation, and the atmosphere around the university may be very quiet and even seem deserted. Many stores may still be closed and university services curtailed for the summer, including public transportation. This may add to the feeling that things seem lonely and difficult; you should keep in mind that things will improve once the regular academic year begins.
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. Entering another country is both a geographic move as well as a psychological one.
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 environment in which to eat.
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. If you live in a homestay, prepare for these possibilities.
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.
Students have reported encountering behaviors 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 comments are not unusual.
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
UCEAP Spain alumni have found that language preparation was essential to their success in Spanish university courses, and that weak language skills severely affected their grades.
Prior to departure, spend at least one hour a day working to improve your Spanish. Depending on your language level, some or all of the following may be helpful:
- Take an additional course in Spanish.
- Seek out native Spanish speakers for regular conversation; many ESL teachers can arrange conversation exchanges in English and Spanish.
- Watch Spanish language television regularly to improve your comprehension; write brief summaries of what you have heard on television and have a native speaker correct the grammar for you.
- Go to Spanish movies.
- Download free Spanish language podcasts.
- If available, use the second-language option on your television or DVD player. That way, popular movies can be heard in Spanish with English subtitles.
- Read Spanish newspapers, such as El País, as often as possible. Visit El Periódico for an opportunity to begin reading in Catalán, as it is available online in both Castilian and Catalán.
- Read magazines, cover to cover, using an all-Spanish dictionary. This may be difficult at first and may require a certain amount of discipline, but it will help your overall comprehension and increase your active vocabulary.
- Read at least one book in Spanish in your major or a related field.
- Keep a journal of Spanish words, phrases, expressions, whole sentences, and structures that you would like to add to your repertoire.
- Give your Spanish comprehension a workout; the harder you work at home, the easier your time abroad will be. Feedback on performance in all areas is important.
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation
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 Pre-Departure 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. Promptly update your MyEAP account with any e-mail and other contact information changes.
There is no group flight for any 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.
If you arrive before the Official UCEAP Start Date, you are responsible for your own lodging until the program start date. You may not move into prearranged housing until the Official UCEAP Start Date, nor may you store items at the Study Center. If you arrive early, you are still expected to meet the group at the designated time and place as indicated on the Arrival Instructions.
Generally, late arrivals are not acceptable; however, certain cases can 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.
You must attend a required orientation that is administered through the UCEAP Study Center. The required UCEAP orientation will take place at the hotel the day you arrive and will last approximately three hours.
During orientation, you will participate in lectures and activities designed to help you acclimate to Spain and become familiar with the Study Center and Madrid. The Study Center staff will review all practical components of the program, including the program calendar, academics, housing, student services, computer access, Spanish culture, health, safety and emergencies, money and banking, phones, mail, and public transportation. You will also receive guides, maps, and other orientation materials.
Your host family will pick you up the next day and take you to the place where you will be living during the program. The first week of the program consists of an orientation at Carlos III. During this week, you will take a Spanish placement exam, meet with your professors, and receive information from various services on campus, including sports and cultural activity information from Espacio Estudiantes and the Erasmus Student Network.
Travel to Your Host Country
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
UCEAP strongly recommends purchasing changeable round trip fares, which will allow you to make changes to your return flight for a fee. Carefully research airfare rules prior to purchasing a flight. Standby and courier fares are not appropriate. Plan for this expense. Neither UCEAP nor the Financial Aid office will reserve or pay for your ticket. If you are on financial aid, you will need to purchase a plane ticket before you receive a financial aid disbursement.
You are responsible for reserving and purchasing your tickets (even if you are on full financial aid). Your Financial Aid Office is not responsible for purchasing tickets. You are strongly urged to purchase a changeable airline ticket. Standby tickets are not appropriate for EAP.
Financial Aid Students
Your financial aid package is based partly on the UCEAP Program Budget for the program. The estimated round-trip airfare amount is based on the cost of a changeable student fare to your host country. If your independent travel costs are greater than the airfare estimate in the UCEAP Program 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.
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.
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 may be dismissed from 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.
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.
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. It is also recommended that you keep electronic copies of these documents for your records.
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 pre-program travel plans. Instead of traveling prior to your program, plan travel for vacation breaks during the year and after the program is over in order to avoid potential problems.
If you receive the visa for stays over 180 days:
- When you arrive in Spain, you must have your passport stamped by the Spanish authorities at the airport. If you arrive in Europe through a different country, have your passport stamped by the authorities of the European country in which you enter. If you do not get the stamp, take your plane ticket to Spain in order to show the exact date of arrival, and contact your program coordinator within 72 hours of entry. Also be sure to have a copy of your host university acceptance letter to present to Spanish authorities. The UCEAP staff in Spain will provide detailed instructions on this process after arrival. Take copies of all paperwork and documents from the entry visa application process with you to Spain; you will need them to obtain the tarjeta de estudiante (student residence card).
- The initial student visa issued should allow you to enter Spain for 90 days. After arrival, you will be required to obtain the tarjeta de estudiante in order to complete the student visa process and obtain official permission to remain in Spain for the rest of the academic year. You must apply for the tarjeta de estudiante within the first 30 days of your arrival.
Be aware that the police may keep your passport for up to two months while they are processing your new visa. If you wish to travel, you can give the police a copy of your passport, but if you do that you should remain in the European Union until your visa is fully valid with the Spanish student residence card.
If you receive the visa for stays under 180 days, you do not have to do anything upon arrival in Spain. This visa will allow you to stay up to six months without needing a student residence card.
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. You may also benefit from saving these copies electronically for easy access to these documents from anywhere.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Students who are granted DACA are strongly encouraged to consult an immigration attorney to evaluate the risks of potentially being unable to re-enter the United States and any impact that participation in UCEAP might have on any deferred action application. If you are undocumented and have not been granted DACA, we strongly encourage you not to leave the country.
The UCEAP Program Budget does not include funds to purchase clothing abroad.
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. Your Study Center will not store luggage.
Clearly identify each item of luggage on the inside and outside with your name, home address, and Study Center 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.
- Laptop computer with wireless card and Ethernet cable
- Travel converter, transformer, and adapter 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)
- Passport-size photos (for public transportation passes)
- 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
- 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
The electrical current used in Europe is 50 cycles AC rather than the 60-cycle current used in the U.S. and voltage is 220–240 rather than the U.S. standard 110 volts for small appliances. Additionally, most electrical sockets have round holes. A converter (or transformer) and adapter plugs are needed in order to use typical home appliances. 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. Because the cost of electricity abroad is very high and since improper use of appliances may damage electrical outlets and the appliances themselves, it is a good policy to ask before using the outlets.
Climate & Clothing
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.
Most items available in the U.S. will also be available 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.
The UCEAP Student Budget does not include funds for the purchase of clothing abroad.
When selecting clothing to pack, keep in mind the Spanish culture; women who wear skimpy clothing attract comments and attention that can be crude and often annoying.
Insurance for Personal Possessions
Consider having additional protections for your property, as in spite of your best efforts, it is still possible to experience loss, theft, or accidents that will damage your belongings while traveling. Talk to your parents and analyze their family homeowners’ insurance to determine whether the items brought or bought while abroad are covered by their policy.
UCEAP's travel insurance policy offers limited personal property coverage. UCEAP strongly recommends you to examine the details of the UCEAP travel insurance benefits and to purchase additional property insurance coverage, especially to protect high cost items such as laptop computers, MP3 players, and other valuables. Review the policy carefully before departure and determine if it provides adequate coverage for your possessions before you experience a loss.
You may decide to purchase additional coverage, especially for high-value electronics (e.g., computer, tablets, camera, etc.). If you decide to do so, purchase supplemental coverage before departure because most theft occurs in the airport or while moving into housing. The host university does not protect student belongings—even in university accommodations.
You are responsible for your own personal property. You can safeguard your belongings from damage or theft by locking your room and securing money, travelers checks, jewelry, passport, and other possessions. Use logical precautions to safeguard valuables. Avoid wearing expensive clothing or jewelry and going to questionable parts of the city, especially at night or when alone. Minimize your vulnerability by staying in control of your drinking and your behavior. Do not invite casual acquaintances or strangers home.
UCEAP strongly recommends purchasing changeable round trip fares, which will allow you to make changes to your return flight for a fee. Carefully research airfare rules prior to purchasing a flight. Standby and courier fares are not appropriate. Plan for this expense. If you do not make round-trip arrangements, be sure to book a return flight with plenty of lead time once abroad. Flights to the U.S. fill up fast and economy-fare seats are booked early.
Most airline tickets are good for one year only. When buying round-trip tickets, purchase a ticket that allows changes to the return date.
The estimated airfare amount in the UCEAP Program Budget is based on the cost of a changeable round-trip student ticket.
Understanding Your Finances
It is important that you carefully read all of the information available in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad and discuss it with the person who will assist you with your finances while you are abroad.
Understanding your finances before, during, and after your program is crucial to having a successful time abroad. The following list outlines just a few of the many things you will need to know before departure.
Detailed information on the following topics can be found in the Money Matters
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
- Contact information for finance questions
- How to estimate the cost of your program
- Budget instructions and information
- Who Can and How to make payments to UCEAP
- UCEAP student account information(what fees do I pay to UCEAP and what fees do I pay out of pocket?)
- Banking before and after arrival
- Fees and penalties
- Loan information
- How financial aid works while abroad (how do I get my financial aid from my home campus and how are my fees paid?)
- Various forms (e.g., direct deposit, etc.)
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
Your MyEAP Student Account is similar to your UC campus financial account. It will be available as soon as you are selected for your program in MyEAP. You can make payments through this account using e-checks or credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover). The fees that you owe UCEAP will be applied to your account after your program pre-departure withdrawal date, which is listed in MyEAP. For the amount due to UCEAP prior to fees being posted on your account, refer to the UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule located on the second page of your UCEAP Program Budget
. Program fees are subject to change.
Your UCEAP Program Budget lists the fees you will pay to UCEAP and an estimate of the personal expenses you will need to plan for. It does not include the cost of recreational travel or personal entertainment. Review your UCEAP Program Budget frequently. The Payment Schedule is on the second page of the UCEAP Program Budget.
- Download and print your UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule.
- Note the deadlines on the Payment Schedule.
- Give the UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule to the person responsible for paying your UCEAP bills. Sign this person up for Third Party Authorization on MyEAP so they can make payments online.
Refund of Credit balances and Financial Aid Disbursements:
If you are signed up for Direct Deposit on your UC campus, it is not linked to your MyEAP account. You must sign up for eRefund with UCEAP to receive direct deposits from your MyEAP account. For more information, see the UCEAP eRefund Instructions
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.
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.
Bank and Creditor Information
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 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 funds.
You will have to cover the costs of daily transportation, books and school supplies, and personal items, among other expenses. Many students found that their living costs were much greater than expected and suggested 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 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 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.
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 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
for the number and address of the nearest office.
Laptops are among the most frequently stolen items from travelers.
Computer access varies by host university, but most campus computer facilities are crowded; waiting is common, and the hours can be inconvenient. It is best to bring your own laptop.
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 you have a wireless card installed in your computer in order to access any available WiFi networks. Some UC campuses are members of eduroam, a WiFi network consortium accessible at all universities in Spain.
- Bring your own Ethernet cable.
- Ensure that your laptop is equipped with a built-in voltage transformer that enables it to operate on the 220-volt system used in Spain (this is a fairly common feature) and bring adapter 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.
Do not expect computer use in a homestay. You will not be allowed to use the phone line in a homestay to connect to the Internet.
Carlos III has 16 computer labs on campus with nearly 400 computers. Computer labs have low-cost printing facilities available. In addition, wireless Internet is available everywhere on campus.
The campus is surrounded by private businesses (similar to Kinkos) where you can access fax machines and scanners at student rates.
You will receive a temporary e-mail account that you should use for the duration of the program for all communication with professors and Carlos III administrators. Many students choose to use a Web-based e-mail account (such as Gmail, Hotmail, etc.) for personal e-mail. You have the option of redirecting your Carlos III e-mail to your personal account. Be sure to check your Carlos III e-mail directly, or through a proxy to your personal account, on a regular basis to make sure you do not miss important messages from your professors or the administration.
Approximate time difference: add 9 hours
Please share this information with your parents before departure.
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 (see the Your UCEAP Network section in this guide), 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.
Smart Phone Call/Texting Apps
For free or low cost communication with friends and family in the U.S. as well as amongst your contacts abroad, consider downloading an app such as Whatsapp or Viber on your smartphone. These apps are commonly used by locals and are a cost effective way to communicate over a WiFi connection.
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). Use a toll-free access number (900 number) when you call from someone else’s phone so that they are not charged any 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.
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. Some recent UCEAP returnees have rented cell phones.
Take your own U.S. cell phone: Spain operates on a GSM network, so check to make sure your phone operates on GSM.
Homestay Phone Use
Do not expect to use a host family’s phone except in an emergency (even if you have a calling card or credit card). You will most likely need to use an outside phone, either a cell phone or pay phone, to make 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.
Use e-mail, faxes, and private couriers (for example, FedEx or DHL) for critical communications and shipments, as the Spanish mail system can be slow.
Under no circumstances should laptop computers, digital cameras, or luggage be shipped overseas; 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 and pay the appropriate postage. 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. Do not use the phrase “in care of” on any letters; the phrase “in care of” is not recognized in Spain. Mail should be addressed to the student.
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.
Do not send packages, boxes, or luggage of any size to the local Study Center. The Study Center can only accept regular letter envelopes, not packages.
Receiving packages overseas can be costly. Any package valued at more than 22 euros, including shipping costs, may be subject to customs charges. If you feel it is absolutely necessary to send goods abroad, you will be able to receive small packages at your permanent address once settled. 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 goes to retrieve it. Daily storage charges often are imposed on packages that are not retrieved immediately.
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. 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 shipped overseas 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.
All students are placed in a UCEAP-arranged homestay.
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.You must live in the program-arranged housing, even if you have family in Spain. However, if you extend from the fall program to the spring, you may find your own housing in the spring.
You will meet your host family once you arrive in Spain. You will not receive any homestay information prior to departure. The housing questionnaire you complete before departure will assist the housing coordinator in placing you with an appropriate host.
Homes and rooms in Spain tend to be smaller than is typically the case 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 or heaters). You will be provided with a single room equipped with a bed, dresser, and table or desk, plus a lamp for studying. 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).
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 guest.
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 for you to take into account local customs as the family comes to know you personally.
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 for being with a host family are to interact socially and culturally, acquire knowledge about Spanish daily living, and 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 learning Spanish.
Carlos III University is located in Getafe, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Madrid (about 10 kilometers from the city center). You have the option to live in either Madrid or Getafe. Getafe has all the necessary medical facilities, shopping and recreational outlets, and provides easy access in the evenings and on the weekends to the center of Madrid for cultural and social activities. If you live in Madrid, there is a commuter train that runs between Atocha station and Carlos III University. However, you must consider the time that it will take to get to Atocha station from your homestay, which will likely be in a different area of Madrid, and the waiting periods. In many cases, commuting from Madrid to Getafe could take more than one hour each way.
Regardless of where your homestay is located, you will need to do some commuting. If you live in Getafe, you will commute to campus and to Madrid at night and on weekends; if you live in Madrid, you will commute to school at Carlos III each weekday. You can expect anywhere from a 30- to 45-minute commute to get to class. Commuting is a regular part of the life of a madrileño.
You may request a single or a double room; every effort will be made to meet your request, but it is not guaranteed. You will also indicate if you prefer to live in Madrid or Getafe. Generally only one UCEAP student is housed with each family, although if program enrollment is high, a maximum of two UCEAP students may be lodged with a single family.
Packing & Laundry
Your homestay will be fully furnished; you do not need to pack towels or bedding, but you will need to provide your own toiletries (soap, deodorant, shampoo, etc.).
Your clothes will be washed once a week; one load of whites and one load of dark clothes. Due to the high cost of electricity in Spain, homestays may not have dryers. Sheets are changed every seven to ten days. Bathrooms and bedrooms are cleaned on a regular basis.
Due to the specialized nature of the program, you may not have a spouse or dependents accompany you to Spain.
You must first get your host’s approval to bring a guest home, even if the guest is another UCEAP student. Overnight guests are not allowed in homestays.
Arrival & Departure
It is not possible to arrive early to a homestay nor is it possible for Hispanic Studies students to extend the housing arrangement. If you arrive early or plan to remain in Spain after the program, you must arrange your own accommodations.
If you are in the Hispanic Studies program and are taking regular Carlos III classes (not core classes), be aware that program housing is arranged only for the duration of the core classes. Carlos III regular classes often run longer, and you will be responsible for extending and paying for your housing arrangements. The Study Center can assist by providing a list of Spanish websites, newspapers, or private agencies/coordinators that offer housing services. This will be discussed in detail during the on-site orientation.
Prior to departure, you will complete a housing questionnaire that will be used by housing staff to help place you in a homestay 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 and accept that perhaps not all of them may be met.
Requests to change housing assignments: If you have a problem with your housing, immediately meet with the Study Center staff and discuss the situation. Do not move out of a homestay or apartment without consulting UCEAP staff. You may not make housing changes or arrangements on your own. If you move out without consulting UCEAP staff, you will be in violation of UCEAP policy and risk being dismissed from the program.
All homestay charges are included in the UCEAP fees. Review the UCEAP Student Budget for exact room and meal costs. You will be charged only for the dates of the program; rates are prorated and are not based on a full month’s charge. You do not receive discounts or reimbursements for dates you are traveling.
Room and board fees are subject to change.
Rules & Contract
You must read and sign a housing contract that states all housing rules, responsibilities, and established norms, as well as your rights. Your signature indicates that you understand and agree to the housing contract. Consequences of breaking the contract range up to expulsion from the program. In addition to the contract, keep the following in mind:
- Alcohol or drug abuse will not be tolerated and may result in dismissal from the program.
- Given the cost of energy, be energy efficient and turn off lights or other appliances if you are not using them. Avoid using the Internet after 1:00 a.m. (if your homestay has Internet access), and be conservative with your water use and shower length.
- Remember that many Spaniards smoke, even in the house.
- If 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.
Meals in Arranged Homestays
Your homestay arrangement includes three typical Spanish meals per day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). The cost for your meals is included in the UCEAP fees. Expect only what is customary in Spanish homes. This means breakfast (el desayuno), lunch (la comida) at 2:00 or 3:00 p.m., and dinner (la cena) usually around 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. Breakfast is rather light, usually consisting of a roll and strong coffee (a continental breakfast). It is typically not considered a “meal.” In contrast, lunch tends to be a substantial meal and is seen as the main meal of the day. The evening meal, as with breakfast, is lighter and is served late in the evening. Meals are served in accordance with the Spanish family schedule, although occasionally breakfast may be served a little earlier for you if you have classes early in the morning. Do not expect kitchen privileges; your host will buy and prepare the food.
If you will be gone for a weekend, notify your host at least 24 hours in advance and your host will provide you with sack lunches containing a reasonable amount of food for two days. For trips longer than two days, your host will provide you with the same amount of food you would need for a weekend trip. Be sure to always let your host know if you are going to be late for a meal, if you are going to miss a meal, or if you are going to spend the evening out or the weekend away.
Menus will be prepared according to the criteria of each host. It is in your best interest to become familiar with Spanish food and customs. Typical traditional Spanish dishes will be introduced frequently at meal times. UCEAP has asked the host families to be somewhat flexible in accommodating their meals to the tastes of American students, and they are aware that there may be initial difficulties in adapting to the Spanish diet. In the event that you, for whatever reason, follow a special diet (vegetarianism, religious practice, or a medical condition such as diabetes, etc.), the family will try to prepare dishes that conform to those dietary requirements.
Spanish Diet & Meal Times
In the U.S., the morning meal is often considered the most important meal of the day. 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.
Carlos III cafeterias serve food all day. You can find sandwiches for €1,30 to 2,70 or a set menu with a first course, main course (including a vegetarian option), dessert, and drink for €5,60. A 10-menu voucher is also available for about €56. Other examples of snack options include coffee with milk €0,90, croissant €0,90, and Coca-Cola €1,40. Remember that your homestay includes full board, but you are responsible for purchasing your own snacks.
Madrid offers endless options for eating out. Many restaurants and cafés offer fixed menus or a menu del día (a whole meal for a fixed price). These meals are usually the best value, as they include a choice of two main dishes, bread, wine or mineral water, and dessert.
There are also many cafés and tapas bars, which are good places for a quick snack. In Madrid there are also salad bars, which are a great option for lunch. They offer a beverage and unlimited salads, pastas, soups, and desserts 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. Spaniards buy much of their groceries at family-owned specialty corner stores. You will find these for fruits, vegetables, seafood, pork, baked goods, and more. Prices are mid-range and service is personalized if you frequent them often.
The best prices are usually found in the larger marketplaces rather than at the corner stores. The least expensive grocery store is Autoservicio Día. You will have to take your own shopping bags (or pay for theirs) and bag your own groceries.
Most neighborhoods have a large marketplace with stalls of products, each stall specializing in one thing (e.g., 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.
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Carlos III University is located in Getafe, in the south of Madrid, ten kilometers from the city center. Regardless of whether you live in Madrid or Getafe, it is common for commutes to take 45 minutes or more each way from home to campus.
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 Tarjeta de Transporte Publico
, are available for purchase. This pass can be used for unlimited rides on the Madrid Metro, buses, and trenes de cercanias
(suburban trains) within a specific number of “zones.” The price to get this card is €4, then you can load it and reload it each month. The Madrid Study Center staff will provide this card to you upon arrival so that you can load it.
As of October 2015, a monthly pass covering all of central Madrid and Getafe (zone B1) costs €20 for those under 26 years old and €63,70 if over 26. Costs for transportation without the card are much higher. You may need to buy a ten-ride ticket (€12,20) or single tickets (€1,50-2) if you arrive early to Madrid until you are able to receive your Tarjeta de Transporte Publico
. Ten-ride and single tickets can be purchased from tobacco shops, Metro ticket booths, and bus company kiosks located throughout Madrid.
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.
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.
The Study Center staff arrange and provide information on a number of social and cultural activities, and will keep you updated through regular posts on the Carlos III Facebook group
. You are strongly encouraged to participate in the E-xchange Program arranged through the Study Center. Through this program, you will be put in e-mail contact with Spanish students studying English before arriving in Madrid. The E-xchange gives both you and the Spanish students the chance to begin practicing language skills and building friendships that you can continue after arrival in Spain. It also gives you the opportunity to ask Madrid students about Spanish culture, everyday life for university students, and what to generally expect once you arrive in Spain.
Carlos III student organizations arrange a variety of cultural activities, including offerings in theater, music, literature, cinema, and photography. You may participate in the university choir, vocal training, the chamber group, and various types of campus concerts. There are also dance courses, theater workshops, painting courses, literary competitions, courses in technical artistic expression, activities for volunteers, cultural trips, and exhibitions and lectures.
Carlos III also offers a variety of sporting activities, including classes in tennis, fitness, athletics, relaxation techniques, aerobics, aikido, climbing, chess, squash, indoor football, and basketball. Other avenues for participating in sports include inter-university competition in football, tennis, volleyball, basketball, etc. The only limitation is that these activities may interfere with class hours. If you are uncertain of which activity to join, take advantage of the “Semana de puertas abiertas”. Held at the beginning of each semester, this week-long trial period allows you to try a new sport or activity before signing up. Visit the CIII Deporte
page for more information on the facilities and activities available to you.
Semester students will receive regular student ID cards and student privileges, including the ability to join any student organization with purchase of a taco (student activity card).
One of the most dynamic organizations in Madrid is the Erasmus Student Network (ESN), an apolitical and nonprofit student association that is present all over Europe (32 countries and 280 delegations). It was founded in 1990 by exchange students and it is based on the “students helping students” principle. ESN works to improve the stay of not only European Erasmus students but Americans as well and help them with their integration into Spain and the Spanish society. With the ESN card you have access to many advantages: special discounts on all trips, parties, journeys, and events they organize.
For more information about Madrid, esMadrid.com is the portal of the city of Madrid. It aims to make visitors, companies, and inhabitants aware of what the city has to offer.
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.
Students with Disabilities
While in Spain, students with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation different from the United States. Spain has laws that prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment and education; and mandate access to health care, access to information technology and communication, including social media, access to buildings for persons with disabilities, and the provision of other state services. The law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities. While the government generally enforces these provisions, levels of assistance and accessibility differ between regions. Madrid, Barcelona and many of the other major cities have improved access to public transportation, museums, and other public buildings.
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.
The Carlos III University may provide suitable accommodations for students with disabilities to successfully complete the program. Some accommodations the university can provide include free parking, direct elevator access, elevators to classrooms for students with reduced mobility, adjustment of space and furniture in classrooms, text zooming, self-copied notebooks, Braille printer, scanners, and magnifying glasses. Students with disabilities are evaluated individually by a professional who will determine how the student can be helped and inquire what kind of support is needed, if any.
Spain has laws that prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment and education; and mandate access to health care, access to information technology, and communication (including social media), access to buildings for persons with disabilities, and the provision of other state services. While the government generally enforces these provisions, levels of assistance and accessibility differ between regions.
For more information:
Leaving your host city for more than 24 hours?
You are required to complete the online sign out through your MyEAP account.
Click on Travel Signout and complete all required fields. During an emergency (abroad or in the U.S.), it is important for UCEAP officials to know how to reach you so we can help you.
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Spain is highly welcoming and supportive of the LGBT community, leading Europe in both legal protection and social acceptance. Since legalizing homosexuality,the government has periodically passed legislation giving LGBT individuals a high degree of liberty and protection. Socially, despite being a largely Catholic country, the public is generally very supportive of the community. While isolated homophobic incidents occur, they are rare.
For more information,
You should not make plans to travel until you have arrived and received the program schedule at orientation. Your program may include mandatory excursions. If so, you will need to plan your travel around those dates.
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 Study Center staff and past UCEAP Spain participants for tips and suggestions.
While you are encouraged to make the most of your experience abroad, programs offered through UCEAP are academic programs. Although it is typical 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.
The UCEAP Student Budget does not include funds for recreational travel.
Famous for its architecture, cuisine, and thriving nightlife, Barcelona is home to world-class restaurants, shopping, and a multitude of historical and cultural sites. As the second largest city in Spain, 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, including the Autonomous University campus. If you are studying at one of the UCEAP programs in Barcelona, you will most likely use these public transport options on a regular basis. A single-ride ticket on the metro costs €2,15, but if you plan on using the metro or buses for numerous trips, it may be best to buy a T-10 card for €9,95. This multi-person travel card provides discounted fares and can be purchased at Metro automatic vending machines and Metro customer service and information centers.
This World Heritage site is located south of Madrid, in the Andulusian region of Spain, and is well connected with the rest of the country through high-speed rail. Córdoba is a relatively small city that is easily navigable even if you have limited Spanish language ability. If you attend the Language and Culture program in Córdoba, you will be able to walk to classes from your homestay, or you may need to take a bus. Bus passes are reasonably priced: as of March 2014 they were €1,20 for a single ride, €7,10 for a ten-ride ticket with free transfers valid for up to an hour, and €33 for a monthly unlimited pass. For travel to and from Córdoba, the bus and train station are adjacent to one another on the northwestern part of town. If you are planning a trip to Córdoba, be sure to spend some time exploring the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish architecture that make this city a unique historical attraction.
Located at the foot of the snowcapped Sierra Nevada Mountains, Granada boasts a world class ski resort that provides the backdrop to its Moorish cultural heritage, evident in the Alhambra palace, the Albayzín, and its various museums. Granada is, in many respects, an ideal size and most destinations of interest in the city are within walking distance of each other. If you are studying at the University of Granada, keep in mind that the university is located throughout the city, so you will likely need to take the bus to at least some if not all of your classes. The local bus system is efficient and inexpensive. You can also ask the bus driver for a “credibus card,” which discounts the fare. You can give the bus driver cash to recharge this card. Even if you are only visiting the city for a few days and plan on using the bus system, you should consider purchasing a “credibus card.”
The largest city in Spain, Madrid is the Spanish seat of government and the residence of the Spanish monarch. The primary mode of transportation used by Madrileños
, includes buses and the Metro, or just walking. If you plan to travel in Madrid for a long period of time, public transportation passes, called Tarjeta de Transporte Publico
can be used for unlimited rides on the Madrid Metro, buses, and trenes de cercanias
(suburban trains) within a specific number of “zones.” You will need to pay €4 when you buy the card, then you can load it and reload it each month. As of October 2015, a monthly pass covering all of central Madrid and Getafe (zone B1) costs €20 for those under 26 years old and €63,70 if over 26. Costs for transportation without the card are much higher. You may need to buy a ten-ride ticket (€12,20) or single tickets (€1,50-2) during your first days in Madrid until you are able to purchase a Tarjeta de Transporte Publico
. Ten-ride and single tickets can be purchased from tobacco shops, Metro ticket booths, and bus company kiosks located throughout Madrid.
In addition to arranging your own travel, Carlos III University also plans various viajes culturales throughout Spain. These 2 day excursions explore the roots, traditions, and cultures of various Spanish cities, in both the north and south. This is a great opportunity to meet students from across the facultades
and campus community, and to explore the Spanish landscape. Past trips include: Sevilla, Salamanca, Valencia, and Bilbao. For more information on these opportunities, visit the Carlos III Espacio Estudiantes
Storing Luggage While Traveling
UCEAP Study Centers are not equipped to store luggage for students due to lack of space.
Barcelona: you can store luggage at the Barcelona-Sants Estació train station.
The general RENFE information number is (+34) 90-224-0202
Granada: you can store luggage at two places: The Granada train station, located at Avda. Andaluces (+34) 958-20-40-00, or at the bus station, located at Carretera de Jaén s/n (+34) 958-18-54-80.
Madrid: you can store luggage at the Madrid Avda. Atocha train station (+34) 91-468-83-32.
Know Before you Go
While abroad you are automatically covered by the UCEAP Travel Insurance Policy
. Coverage begins 14 days before the official start date of your UCEAP program term. Coverage ends 31 days after the official end of the UCEAP program term. Your UCEAP travel insurance does not include coverage for preventative care, checkups, and vaccinations.
The UCEAP travel insurance policy is not the same as your campus or private insurance and it is does not meet ACA requirements for domestic coverage as required by U.S. law
. Read details in Benefits at a Glance
. Familiarize yourself with the coverage, exclusions, and eligibility criteria. Your travel insurance policy number is ADDN 04834823. It is underwritten by ACE American Insurance Company.
There is no deductible or co-insurance but the travel insurance works on a reimbursement basis. You can submit a claim for a refund of covered expenses to the UCEAP insurance carrier.
Do not assume that if you seek medical care abroad for a covered illness or injury that the local hospital will bill your insurance. Generally, hospitals around the world, including the US, do not bill insurance companies (unless there is a special arrangement with a local hospital in your UCEAP country). It is the patient's responsibility to inquire with the hospital, at the time of service, and make arrangements to pay any outstanding bills. Payment for medical services abroad is ultimately your responsibility.
For more information refer to your Pre-Departure Checklist, Insurance tab, or the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Insurance chapter
For Questions about Coverage, Benefits and Claims
ACI at email@example.com.
In Madrid, there are several hospitals with emergency room services. In Getafe, the Hospital Universitario de Getafe
is located close to the Carlos III campus and is useful for emergencies.
Medical services in Spain are comparable to those in the U.S. and northern Europe. 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.
As a UCEAP participant you are automatically covered by UCEAP travel insurance anywhere in the world (not only while in Madrid) 14 days before the official start of the program and up to 31 days after the official end of the program. The travel insurance is not the same as your US insurance. It does not cover preventive care. There is no copay or dedutive but you must pay up front for covered medical services and submit a claim for a refund consideration to the insurance company. The travel insurance does not cover no show fees if you make an appointment and do not cancel within the doctor's office policies.
If you are sick or injured, ask the local staff for names of doctors. They can also guide you to submit a claim with the UCEAP insurance for eligible medical services.
If you have questions about your UCEAP travel insurance benefits, coverage or the claims process, contact ACI at firstname.lastname@example.org
If there has been any change in your health—physical, mental, or dental—since you submitted your health clearance form to the UCEAP Systemwide Office, you must immediately notify the UCEAP Program Specialist.
If you feel sick or have a medical emergency, seek medical attention and contact your Study Center coordinator immediately. The Study Center will help you choose a clinic to visit, help you with the UCEAP insurance claim process, and arrange with your professors if extended absence is expected. It is a good idea to let the Study Center know of any medical services you receive, even in routine or non-emergency situations.
If you have a preexisting medical condition, carry a letter from your physician describing the medical condition, treatment, and prescribed medications, including generic names and dosage. Carry adequate amounts of your prescription medication.
Recognize that your behaviors have a significant impact on your wellness. Observe healthy habits, as follows:
- Eat a balanced diet
- Stay hydrated: Drink water
- Good basic personal hygiene and hand washing are critical to help prevent the spread of illness and disease. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before eating.
- Avoid negative health behaviors (excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, etc.)
- Do not skip on sleep
- Maintain a positive outlook
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. See the Extracurricular Activities sub-section of this guide for information on gyms and fitness classes at each UCEAP location.
Arriving in a new country is a very busy time and there are a lot of changes to go through. There are differences in food, weather and customs to cope with. In this type of situation, with all its stresses, you may find yourself paying less attention than usual to your health.
Existing health problems can also be made worse by the effects of adjusting to unfamiliar food, a different climate and the emotional strains of being away from home. It can be easy to concentrate on your studies and forget about taking care of yourself. Travel health is about prevention and common sense: Being aware of health issues that may arise and taking the appropriate measures to prevent illnesses and injuries when you are travelling not only for your own well-being, but for the people and communities you encounter during your trip.
Know Before you Go
Inform yourself before you travel. Just as language and currency vary around the world, so does medical care. Know what to do if you get sick.
Read the Health chapter
of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
and your Program Guide for important information to plan for a healthy stay abroad.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Traveler's Health
web page has important information about health risks present in the country where you will be studying.
Medical Alert ID
If you have significant allergies or chronic medical conditions, consider wearing a medical alert bracelet or a Medic Alert emblem. For more information, you can contact American Medical ID
- Understand your UCEAP travel insurance terms of coverage.
- Although you should always travel with a copy of your prescription from your U.S. doctor, many pharmacies in other countries will only fill prescriptions written in that country. If you need a refill while abroad, you must see a local doctor to get a similar prescription that a pharmacy will fill. Note: If the visit to the local doctor is considered preventive care, it will not be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance. It may be covered if you are insured through your campus health insurance plan. It will be critical to have a letter from a U.S. doctor during this appointment explaining your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic name.
- If you need to find out if this appointment would be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance, contact ACI at email@example.com. For more information about the UCEAP travel insurance, refer to your UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, or your pre-departure checklist, Insurance tab.
- Two classes of medicines – narcotics and psychotropics – are under the control of international law. This covers any medicine that can have an effect on the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the potential to be abused. The narcotic class mostly relates to analgesic opioids and their derivatives (e.g. morphine and codeine) which tend to be highly regulated. Psychotropics are all those medications likely to be used to treat mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and psychotic conditions.
- If you plan to purchase medication using the UCEAP Travel Insurance coverage, you must fill and pay for medication prescribed by a licensed physician when coverage is effective (14 days before the official start of the program). Do not assume that your local pharmacy knows about the UCEAP travel insurance policy. It is not the same as your campus health insurance coverage. You will need to pay for the medication and submit a claim to the UCEAP insurance.
- Find out whether your medication is legal in your UCEAP country.
- If intending to travel with prescription containing controlled substances, review international agreements governing the transportation of medications across borders check the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) website. The INCB is responsible for international drug control. If traveling with controlled substances, you must have a letter from your doctor. Generally, amphetamines (e.g., Adderall, Vyvanse) are illegal in other countries. Talk with your doctor to switch you to another medication.
- Talk to your doctor to see whether he/she can prescribe an adequate supply of your prescription medication to last through the end of the program. Ask your doctor how to adjust your dosage depending on time zone changes.
- Get a letter from the prescribing physician on letterhead indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic name as brand names vary considerably around the world.
Traveling with prescription medications
- Keep the medication in its original packaging. Ensure that it is clearly labelled with your full passport name, doctor’s name, generic and brand name, and exact dosage. Carry it in your carry-on luggage. Do not pack the medications in your checked luggage.
- Carry copies of all original prescriptions.
- Carry the letter on letterhead from the prescribing physician for all prescribed medications, indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic names. This is extremely important in case you need treatment or a medication refill abroad.
If your particular medication cannot be taken into the country in quantities to last through your stay, talk to your doctor. If you need to switch prescriptions, your doctor may need to make changes to your medication at least 3-6 months before departure, so you can have time to consult with your doctor on any resulting complications. The letter from your doctor indicating condition, treatment and medication regimen, can help a local physician to assess you and to consider reissuing your prescription provided it is licensed in your UCEAP country. Note that the local doctor's appointment for medication refill may not be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance.
SINEWS, a multilingual therapy institute offered through TH Spain. A bilingual licensed clinical psychologist is at the other end, to help you deal with emergencies 24/7.
Are you a sexual assault survivor? Are you experiencing suicidal thoughts? Personal crises and need immediate professional help? Call 619270148.
Your mental health is important to us all. Managing your mental health while studying abroad – whether or not you have a history of anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions – is something every person must think about when going abroad. Being away from usual stress at home can sometimes be a relief when abroad; experiencing new adventures can be a useful distraction. You will also have times when you feel confused, uncomfortable, annoyed, and many of the same emotions that you manage in your daily life at home. Read the Mobility International tips, Ups and Downs of International Travel
Cultural adjustment and homesickness are normal. They are usually transitory—lasting a couple of weeks—and do not imply mental illness or an inability to cope. Most students who experience culture adjustment function reasonably well under the stress and are able to keep up with the responsibilities of school and everyday life.
If you are currently in treatment in the U.S., it is extremely important to discuss your study abroad plans and program details with your doctor. If you are taking a prescription medication, talk with your prescribing physician well in advance about getting the supply you need for going abroad. For information about traveling with medications, refer to the Prescription Medications section in this guide.
The UCEAP travel insurance policy covers outpatient visits as any other illness up to $500,000; there is no co-pay or deductible, and you can make an appointment with any doctor. Budget for this expense as you must pay up front and submit a claim to the insurance company for a refund consideration. Doctors, hospitals, and clinics will require you to pay bills at the time of treatment. You must then submit a completed claim form and paid receipts to the UCEAP insurance company. If you have questions about your UCEAP travel insurance benefits contact ACI at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about the claims process, access Insurance Claims Process
If you have severe food allergies should take precautions, as the cuisine may include ingredients that can cause anaphylaxis in those affected. A language barrier increases the risks associated with severe food allergies.
Precautions to take include:
- Ask for a waiter/waitress who speaks English to help you choose a safe menu item. Some restaurants will have menus in English, but it varies.
For more information, read the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
, Health chapter
, Allergies section.
Spain's zero tolerance smoking legislation came into effect in January 2011, tightening the restrictions on smoking (cigarettes, cigars and pipes) in public places first put in place in 2006.
It is illegal to smoke in indoor public places, e.g., bars, restaurants, airports, shopping centers, etc. Smoking is also illegal outside hospitals, schools and children’s play parks. Fines for breaking laws range from €30 to €600k and are being strictly enforced.
You may find that more people smoke around you than in the U.S.
- If you have a chronic health condition that gets worse with second-hand smoke, discuss this with your doctor before departure.
Overall, Spain is considered a safe destination, though street crime continues to be a concern, particularly in urban areas and those frequented by tourists. With the right information - and by thinking ahead - everyone can play a part in preventing being a victim of crime.
Use 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. Know the areas of town to avoid, and carry emergency phone numbers with you at all times.
- Pay attention to safety briefings during orientation.
- Avoid risky or threatening situations and learn areas of the city to avoid.
- 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.
- Avoid heavy drinking, which increases vulnerability to safety risks. If you must drink, do so responsibly. There have been a number of very serious accidents (some with fatal results) due to falls from balconies. A number of these incidents have been caused by being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Do not leave your drinks unattended at bars or restaurants, as there have been some instances of drinks being spiked with illegal substances, leading to incidents of robbery and sexual assaults.
- Do not walk alone any time the streets are deserted, such as during the siesta. Clubs and bars let out at 7 a.m.; even though you might consider this “morning,” it can still be dark and it is not safe to walk alone.
- Arrange ahead of time to walk home with a friend, and always carry enough money for cab fare home. Students, male and female, walking home alone at night have been mugged, even right outside their apartment door.
- When entering larger venues, always decide on a meeting place with those you are with just in case you get separated.
- When carrying valuables (e.g. credit cards or cash) don’t keep them all in one place. Remain aware at all times.
You play an active role in protecting your personal health, safety, and well-being.
Staying safe in another country is similar to staying safe in a large U.S. city. Understand the potential threats, know which neighborhoods to avoid, and remain vigilant (pay attention to your surroundings; do not walk around while talking on the phone or while listening to music).
If you will be traveling, think about how you are getting to your destination and/or any travel inside a country. Plan your itinerary carefully, let your friends and relatives know where you will be, and research the safest way to travel. Be proactive about your safety. Be prepared.
The University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) has established policies and procedures and contracted with emergency service and security providers, to help you minimize your risk exposure and enhance your safety.
Steps to manage or minimize risk and avoid being a victim of a crime:
- Assess your surroundings.
- Remain aware at all times. Do not walk around talking on the phone or listening to music on your headphones.
- Be attentive to what is unusual or threatening. Trust your "gut feelings"; if you feel threatened, leave the area immediately and find somewhere more secure.
- Research potential risks you can encounter while traveling.
- Increase your safety and reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime by staying on top of your drinking.
- Practice the buddy system, which promotes safety. This system helps ensure that you, and a partner, will look out for each other. Choose your buddy wisely. The ideal buddy should feel that the buddy system is very important. If you are having a problem, your buddy can help to alert others and get you to safety.
- Have a communication plan. Who will you call on site if you are facing an emergency? Do your friends and relatives know how to reach you when you are traveling?
Know what to do in a possible risk scenario
Locate the nearest emergency exits. If evacuated in a group, remain in the center of the group with as many people around you as possible. Don’t take the lead or straggle behind.
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.
Spanish authorities warn of the availability of so-called "date-rape" drugs and other drugs, including GBH and liquid ecstasy.
Protecting your Passport
Avoid carrying your passport whenever possible; leave it in a secure place and carry a copy. Pickpockets and thieves are active throughout Madrid, especially in and around tourist areas. 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 the Study Center.
Minimize your chance of becoming a victim of petty theft
Petty crime poses the greatest threat. Most petty crimes are committed by groups of young persons using different distraction tactics. Victims report being approached by individuals holding maps and asking for directions. While the victim is distracted, an accomplice picks the victim’s pockets or purse, removing cash, credit cards, passports, and other valuables. Report lost or stolen possessions immediately to the local police. Keep a copy of the police report for future UCEAP insurance claims and as an explanation of your loss.
- Be low-key and keep a close eye on your personal belongings.
- 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.
- Dress to blend in. College sweatshirts, sweatpants, baseball caps, flip-flops, and shorts are all associated with Americans and will likely make you a target.
Alcohol and Your Safety
Drinking even a small amount of alcohol can lead to dangerous or even deadly situations. Drinking can impair a person's judgment, coordination, and reaction time.
Know How to be Safe when Drinking
- Alcohol can cause you to lose all common sense when it comes to your own safety.
- Alcohol is a mind-altering drug, which affects our physical coordination and decision making abilities.
- Some people are more vulnerable than others to the immediate effects of alcohol due to body size, gender, genetics and when they last ate.
- Too much alcohol makes you more prone to accidents.
- The more drinks you have the greater the effect – this is true regardless of your age, gender or size.
- Before going out know how you are getting home and make arrangements in advance such as booking a licensed taxi. Find out from the company the make and model of car to expect.
- Know where you are going and if possible make sure someone else knows where you are going too.
- Keep your mobile is charged and has credit. Do you have a licensed taxi number stored in your phone? Your mobile is charged and has credit. Do you have a licensed taxi number stored in your phone?
- Have enough cash for your journey home and keep your keys separate from your bag.
- Stay in control of your drinking –You are much more vulnerable when you are drunk and some people will take advantage of this.
Protect your belongings. Follow basic precautions.
- Always be aware of your surroundings and those around you. Thieves usually create a distraction before making their move, such as asking for the time so you turn to look at your watch.
- Never carry large amounts of cash. Separate your cash and documents among various pockets.
- Carry your wallet in a front or 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. When in crowds or on the Metro, carry your backpack or bag in front of you where you can see it.
- Do not store your camera or other valuables where they can be removed without notice.
- Leave anything you do not need in a particular day at your apartment or homestay in a secure place.
Photocopies of Important Documents
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. You might also choose to store this information in a private online account. If you lose your wallet, purse, or backpack, you will have the copies to make it easier to process a new passport or new cards.
Demonstrations & Protests
Large-scale demonstrations and strikes occur and are usually associated with labor and political policies and activities. 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 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.
Traffic & Transportation Safety
Spain has an excellent network of roads and highways. Public transportation in large Spanish cities is generally excellent and travel is usually secure, although common sense should prevail if you are unfamiliar with the local crime situation.
- Take precautions particularly in the evening.
- Travel should be accomplished during the day. If overnight travel is required, book tickets only on international rail lines, in a lockable cabin. Never travel alone.
- Use the highest class of travel and the most direct booking available.
- 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. Use security money belts under your clothing. Keep loose items, such as cameras and purses, within a larger and securable carrying bag that is kept in front of you, never behind.
Rail service is comfortable and reliable, but varies in quality and speed. Intercity buses are usually comfortable and inexpensive.
Do not drive. Spain has a high rate of car accidents, especially among young people.
Licensed taxis usually provide a more secure means of transport. All major cities have metered taxis, in which extra charges must be posted in the vehicle. 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.
If you have a problem or suspect you are being over charged for a taxi ride, ask for an official receipt. The license number for the taxi should be located in a metal plaque by the passenger window. This number identifies a specific taxi and can prove useful in the event of forgotten property or if you decide to file a complaint.
Most cities have phone reservation and radio dispatch services for added security.
Use only telephone-dispatched taxis after dark.
Even though Spain is considered one of the most positive examples of the effects a national road safety program can have. Road safety is a problem in Spain. Pedestrian crossings are marked with zebra black and white wide striped lines.
- Cross streets at a corner, using traffic signals where available and crosswalks. If there is no traffic light at the crossing, the pedestrian has the right of way but cross with caution. Spanish drivers do not usually stop at zebra crossings unless they are accompanied by traffic lights.
- Stay on the sidewalk wherever there is one.
- Stop before you start to cross the street. Look to the left, right, and left again. Cross when it is clear.
- When going out at night, wear brightly colored or reflective clothing.
- Where the view is restricted, stop and confirm whether it is safe to continue.
Madrid Subway System
The Madrid subway system is extensive and inexpensive.
Train travel is reliable, though not as fast as the bus (with the exception of the high-speed AVE or Alta Velocidad Española).
Petty criminals ply buses, trains, and the Metro system, especially Metro and bus lines serving the Old City, Gran Via (Metro green line), and Retiro park areas (Metro red line); avoid these areas at night. A number of petty crime incidents also occur frequently at Madrid Barajas International Airport (MAD); passengers should guard belongings closely.
Follow these general fire safety tips. Most college-related fires in the U.S. are due to a general lack of knowledge about fire safety and prevention. Educate yourself about fire safety standards in your UCEAP country. Fire safety standards differ drastically around the world.
- Know where emergency exists are located and check whether exits are passable.
- Know how to call the local fire department.
Do not stay in housing above the sixth floor so you are within range of most fire department rescue ladders.
- Print and take with you the UCEAP brochure, Fire Safety 101 for Students.
- Purchase and use a smoke detector. Before departure contact the Fire Safety Foundation. Choose from a variety of battery-powered smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, including models with sealed, 10-year batteries. Once purchased, the alarms and a multilingual installation manual – written in English and the host country’s native language - will be shipped to the address where you are residing.
- Have an escape plan and practice it.
- Treat every smoke alarm activation as a likely fire and react quickly and safely to the alarm.
- Check for fire hazards. Make sure exit routes are not blocked.
- If you have a disability, alert others of the type of assistance you need to leave the building.
- Refer to the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Fire Safety section for life-saving information.
Forest fires occur frequently in Spain during the summer months, especially in southern areas of the country.
Fire - Dial 112.
UCEAP Contingency Planning
If a local situation requires increased caution or a program suspension and evacuation of participants, UCEAP will activate contingency plans. For security reasons, contingency plans are not public and cannot be shared with anyone except UCEAP officials.
Program Suspension Policy
If the U.S. Department of State or CDC issues a Travel Warning after the start date of the program term, UCEAP may suspend the program. If time and local security conditions permit, UCEAP will consult with the UC Study Center Director, U.S. Embassy, U.S. Department of State regional and security analysts, other organizations that offer programs in the same country, and area experts to determine the appropriate timeframe for suspending the program and/or for the evacuation of the students from the host country.
The UCEAP required security evacuation will override any host institution, or local US Embassy voluntary departure on U.S. government-arranged flights, that require U.S. citizens to sign a promissory note with the government. The safe evacuation of UCEAP students, managed by UCEAP, is covered by UCEAP insurance. UC students are required to follow UC safety directives in the event of an evacuation.
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 Program Specialist at the UCEAP Systemwide Office at (805) 893-4762.
- After office hours: Call the 24-hour emergency phone numbers at (805) 893-4762 or (805) 882-2086.
Carry the local UCEAP emergency contact information at all times.
Police, Ambulance, or Fire Department: 112
U.S. Embassy in Madrid
American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit
Calle Serrano 75
Business Hours:M–F, 8:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
Phone: (34) 91-587-2240
Fax: (34) 91-587-2303
After-Hours Emergency Phone: (34) 91-587-2200
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condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status,
citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era
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