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Madrid, Spain
Approx. Time Difference
March–Add 9 hours
Physics, Carlos III Univ.

- Summer

This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances, and much more.
Remember to also visit the Participants section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.

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.
Your UCEAP Network

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 Staff 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).

Contact Information

Program Advisor
Phone: (805) 893-4268 or (805) 893-4138
Program Specialist
Phone: 805) 893-4268 or (805) 893-4138
Academic Staff
Phone: (805) 893-2712
Student Finance Accountant
Christine Rehage 
Phone: (805) 893-8459
UCEAP Systemwide Office
6950 Hollister Avenue, Suite 200
Goleta, CA 93117-5823
Phone: (805) 893-4762
Fax:(805) 893-2583

UCEAP Online

Bookmark your Participants program page. This resource lists requirements and policies you need to know before you go abroad, including your 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 page.

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.
Carlos III Office
Rocío Navas, Sr. Admin Coordinator
Centro de Estudios de la Universidad de California
International School, Despacho 9.0.36
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
Calle Madrid, 126
28903 Getafe
Madrid, Spain
Phone: +34-91-624-9216

Cristina Martinez-Carazo, UC Faculty Director for Programs in Spain
Phone: (+34) 696-418-818​
Email: ​​​

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
Academic Information
Program Overview

​University Information

The Carlos III University of Madrid is one of the most innovative and internationally-minded universities in Spain. Established in 1989, it is a young, vibrant, and modern institution. It has four campuses located in Getafe, Legané​s, Colmenarejo, and Puerta de Toledo. Getafe is an industrialized city south of Madrid and is a short 20 minute train ride to Atocha station in central Madrid.

Program Description

On this program, you will complete two consecutive lower-division intensive physics courses. The physics sequence allows you to complete the equivalent of one year of physics for life sciences majors at the University of California. 
Academic Culture
This program is designed for UCEAP students from across the UC system. You will not be in class with local or international students.

Instruction generally consists of lecture, class, workshops, and labs. All lectures, class, and workshops will be held on the Getafe campus. Labs are held on the Legané​s campus and bus transportation to and from that campus is automatically provided.

Class and lectures, which are often used to cover the groundwork in a subject, supplement workshops and labs. The lectures provide background material for the academic work that is assessed during workshops. Workshops are used to solved problem sets in a group environment. During the labs you run experiements and test theories learned in lecture and class. You are also assigned homework and problem sets.

Course Information


Students must take both courses offered in this program. Physics at the Carlos III University of Madrid summer program is divided into two four-week sessions. You enroll in one course during each session and each course is worth 6 quarter/4 semester UC units. Both physics courses are lower-division credit.

You are required to take a full-time course of study while abroad: 12 quarter/8 semester UC units. The pass/no pass grading option is not available on this program. 

Grades for this program will be available within 90 days after the end of the program, and may not arrive in time to accommodate your summer degree verification deadline.

You will receive an automatic e-mail notification when your grades are transmitted to the UC Registrar, at which time you will be able to view your grades through your MyEAP account. You will need to wait a while longer for grades to be posted to your official UC transcript by the Office of the Registrar.

For general information about grades, see the Academic Information chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
Extending UCEAP Participation
Cultural Awareness
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.

Intolerance & Harassment
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.
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).
Take a copy of the Arrival Instructions to Spain.

If you arrive before the Official UCEAP Start Date, you are responsible for arranging your own accommodations and may not 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.​


You must attend all required orientation sessions.  During orientation, you will participate 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, student services, computer access, Spanish culture, health, safety and emergencies, money and banking, phones, mail, and transportation.  You will also receive guides, maps, and other orientation materials.
Travel Planning
Travel to Your Host Country
UCEAP strongly recommends purchasing changeable round trip tickets, which will allow you to make changes to your return flight for a fee. UCEAP discourages purchasing one way tickets, as your Program Budget is based on a changeable round trip student fare, which is generally less expensive. 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.
Most airline tickets are good for one year only. When buying round-trip tickets, purchase tickets that allow changes to the return date. 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.

Financial Aid Students

Your financial aid package is calculated using your specific UCEAP Program Budget. The estimated round-trip airfare amount is based on the cost of a changeable student ticket 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.
Travel Documents
You can find information about passports, entry requirements or visas, and other required documents in your Pre-Departure Checklist.

Undocumented Students and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Students

Consult with an immigration attorney free of charge on your campus to determine if study abroad is right for you.

If you are currently enrolled as a student at UC Berkeley, contact the Undocumented Student Program

If you are currently enrolled as a student at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara, or UC Santa Cruz, contact the UC Undocumented Legal Services Center at
Packing Tips

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.
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.
Items to bring with you:
  • Laptop computer with wireless card and Ethernet cable (for anywhere WiFi isn't available)
  • Chargers for your electronics, with adapter and converter for European electrical outlets and voltage
  • Copies of all of your visa application documents (if applicable)
  • Printout of online registration (if applicable)
  • Spanish dictionary
  • USB drive
  • Prescription medication ( at least 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 smoke detector
  • Bath towel
  • Gifts for foreign hosts and new friends (T-shirts with city, state, or campus logos; California postcards)
Madrid is hot in the summer.  Be prepared for the weather.
Most items available in the U.S. will also be available in Spain.
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. Many buildings in Spain have no central heating and tend to remain cold even after the weather outside has warmed up.  Some private homes may have a few individual heading units, but they are not used when the weather outside is warm.
The UCEAP Student Budget does not include funds for the purchase of clothing abroad.

Electrical Appliances

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, hair straighteners, 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.
Insurance for Personal Possessions
Consider having additional protection for your property. 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.
The UCEAP Travel Insurance policy offers limited personal property coverage.  Review the policy carefully before departure to determine if it is adequate coverage for your possessions before you experience a loss. 
If you decide to purchase supplemental personal property coverage, do so before departure and make sure that the coverage extends while traveling. The host university does not protect student belongings—even in university accommodations.
You are responsible for your own personal property. Use logical precautions to safeguard valuables from damage or theft by locking your room and securing currency, jewelry, passport, and other possessions.
Financial Information
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.
Carefully review your UCEAP Program Budget.
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.
For further information see the Money Matters chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad and the Money Matters tab of your Participants Portal. If you will be receiving financial aid, see also the UCEAP Financial Assistance web page.

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.
Handling Money Abroad
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.

Before Departure


  • 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

Credit cards are useful for emergencies, travel expenses, and everyday purchases. Most stores and restaurants in Spain honor major credit cards. Visa is the most widely accepted credit card in Europe, followed by MasterCard. American Express (AmEx) is not widely accepted, but can be used to purchase traveler’s checks abroad. The Discover Card is not widely accepted outside the U.S. and is not worth taking to Spain.
Take at least two international credit cards and always leave one at home while in Spain; if one is lost or stolen, you will have an immediate backup. These credit cards must be in your name (not a parent’s).
If you need a cash advance after hours at an ATM, you will need an international PIN. If you conduct a cash advance transaction inside a bank, you may not need an international PIN, but you will need your passport.

Travelers Checks

Travelers checks can be useful in an emergency, as an alternate source of money if you lose your wallet, or if a card does not work. Travelers checks are extremely helpful if you plan to open a bank account in Spain. In addition, travelers checks can be replaced if lost or stolen. If you don’t use the travelers checks in Spain, you can deposit them to your bank account upon your return to the U.S. Purchase the checks in U.S. dollars before you depart; AmEx Travelers Cheques are the most widely accepted. Be sure to make two copies of the check numbers and give one copy to a family member or friend before you leave home. Keep the other copy for yourself, separate from the actual checks. If your checks are lost or stolen, you will need to provide these numbers and corresponding receipts in order to obtain replacements.
Travelers checks can be exchanged for euros at any bank marked Cambio or at exchange offices (oficinas de cambio). A transaction fee will be charged and some banks may insist on exchanging a minimum amount.
At the American Express office you can write checks (from the States) for travelers checks. However, travelers checks are no longer widely used in Europe and many restaurants and cafés do not accept them. Have a credit card and especially an ATM card to access your money.

Western Union

Western Union can be used to have money 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.
Communications Abroad
Internet Access
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.
  • 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.
Approximate time difference: add 9 hours
Please share this information with your parents before departure.

International Calls

To call or send a fax to Spain from California, dial the international access code (011), then the country code (34), then the city code (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.

Smart Phone Call/Texting Apps

If you want to see if your phone will work in Spain, you can look it up here: 

To call or text over Wifi connection, try cost effective and free apps such as Skype, Whatsapp, Viber, Face Time, etc.

Prepaid Phone Cards

Phone cards are also a good option to call the U.S. You can buy them from a locutorio.
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 if calling from a homestay.
900 Access: By using this access method you will be making a toll-free call.

Cell Phones

Ask your cell phone carrier about rates for international and local calling and texting.  In general, having 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).
Cell phone rental services: There are cell phone rental services available.
Take your own U.S. cell phone: Spain operates on a GSM network, so check to make sure your phone operates on GSM.

Mail & Shipments
Note that you will be in Madrid for fewer than eight weeks, so please keep this in mind if you are having any mail sent to you during your stay in Madrid.
UCEAP does not recommend shipping packages to Spain.  It may not be possible for students to retrieve packages from customs.  Itmay be easier and less costly for a student to order products online and have them shipped directly to them in Spain rather than having family or friends mail them packages from the U.S.

Use email, 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.
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 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.
Housing & Meals
Housing is pre-arranged for you in the Gregorio Peces-Barba​ Residence Hall on the Carlos III Univ. of Madrid Getafe campus. All students are placed in single rooms with private bathrooms. Bedding and towels will be provided by the residence hall. You can read more about the rooms and the residence hall at this link:​

The residence hall has its own tennis and basketball courts, a gymnasium, and a cafeteria where you can enjoy all of your meals included in the price of the program.

All meals will be provided in the residence hall cafeteria.  You will be provided with an ID card for the meals. You will receive three meals per day. With advanced notice, the cafeteria may be able to provide you with a to-go meal of a sandwich, fruit, and a drink, if you need to take your meal to eat away from the cafeteria.  Inform the staff a day ahead of time if you would like to request a to-go meal.

Inform the cafeteria staff if you have any dietary restrictions, and they may be able to accommodate your needs.

Spanish Fare

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 or toast 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 2pm or 3p.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 and fish have 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.
Olive oil is a staple in the Mediterranean diet. The amount of oil used is usually shocking to most California students, and past students have mentioned that they are not used to eating food cooked in oil, chorizo, and eating tapas. “Greasy” and “oily” are two food descriptions heard often from UC students, yet many come to enjoy the food during their stay in Spain.

Eating Out

Many restaurants and cafés offer fixed menus or menú del día (a whole meal for a fixed price). You will usually find these meals to be the best value, as they will include a choice of two main dishes, bread, wine or mineral water, and dessert.
There are also numerous cafés and tapas bars, which are good places for a quick snack. Besides tapas, there are salad bars in some Spanish cities, which are a great option for lunch. They offer salads, pastas, soups, and desserts and a beverage. In bars, you can also order a Spanish sandwich (bocadillo). When eating out, it is less expensive to sit inside than it is to sit at an outside table, and even less expensive to sit at the bar.
Shopping in the markets is another great way to experience Spanish cuisine and there are many types of markets available for your grocery needs. Spaniards buy most of their groceries at family-owned specialty corner stores. You will find these for fruits and vegetables, seafood, pork, baked goods, and more. Prices are mid-range, and service, if you frequent them often, is personalized.
The best prices are usually found in the larger marketplaces rather than at the corner stores. The least expensive grocery store is Dia Autoservicio. You will have to bring your own shopping bags (or pay for theirs) and bag your own groceries.
In addition, most neighborhoods have a large marketplace with stall after stall of products, each stall specializing in one thing: meats and cheeses, chicken and eggs, fruits and vegetables, bread, pastries, dairy products, and dry goods.


If you are a vegetarian, you may have some trouble finding foods to eat, particularly if you do not eat fish. Many 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 common in Spain as it is in California. However, vegetarian restaurants are becoming more prevelant. In this video, a past UC student shares her experience eating as a vegetarian in Spain.
There are many restaurants and cafeteria-bars where you can find vegetarian items, such as tortilla Española, cheese portions, ensaladilla rusa (contains tuna and egg), berenjenas a la miel (eggplant dipped in sugarcane honey), slamorejo (cold, thick, tomatoe based soup), and bocadillos de queso. It is important to bring an open mind and some vitamin supplements.

You may find specialty shops that offer vegetarian and vegan options, but they may be expensive.
Daily Life Abroad
Local Transportation
​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.
You can apply for a public transportation pass called Tarjeta de Transporte Publico. 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.” You will need to load it and reload it each month.  You may need to buy a ten-ride ticket or single tickets during your first days in Madrid until you are able to get a Tarjeta de Transporte Publico 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.
Transportation will be provided during class times from the Getafe campus to the Leganes campus for labwork.
Extracurricular Activities
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.

Get Involved

Participating in extracurricular cultural and social activities while on UCEAP is an excellent way to meet people, improve your language skills, and integrate more fully into the community.
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.
Study Center staff have information on cultural and social events and will keep you updated via Facebook posts. Each Spain program has a designated Facebook group designed to facilitate your communication with other participants and Study Center staff.
Informal get-togethers with Spanish students are sometimes organized; ask Study Center staff about ways to meet Spanish students.

Students with Disabilities
While in Spain, students with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation different from the US. Spain has laws that prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment and education. These laws 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. 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 only stairs (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 provide support to students with disabilities through “disability support services.” Each university has its particular and specific rules for students with disabilities.
The Carlos III University may provide suitable accommodations for students with disabilities through the Carlos III Univ. Care Program for Students with Disabilities. 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.
For getting around Madrid, refer to the Accessible Tourism Guide to Madrid Resources for information on transportation, museums, monuments, theatres, shopping, etc.
For more information:
Travel Sign-out Form

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 US), 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.
Working Abroad
​​A Student Visa and Schengen Visa do not permit you to work in Spain.​ A work visa is required in order to work in Spain. UCEAP cannot sponsor work visas, only employers in Spain can sponsor work visas.
LGBTIQ Students
Spain is highly welcoming and supportive of the LGBT community. Despite being a largely Catholic country, the public is generally very supportive of the LGBT community. Isolated homophobic incidents rarely occur.

COGAM​ is a non-profit organization working for the LGBTIQ community in Madrid.

​For more information,
UCEAP Insurance

Know Before You Go

As a UCEAP participant, you are automatically covered by the UCEAP Travel Insurance Policy anywhere in the world. 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.
The UCEAP Travel Insurance policy is not the same as your campus or private insurance. Inform yourself before seeking care. Your UCEAP Travel Insurance does not include coverage for preventative care, checkups, and vaccinations. Read details in Benefits at a Glance. Familiarize yourself with the coverage, exclusions, and eligibility criteria. You will be financially responsible for any charges for medical services that are not included benefits in the policy and for any charges over an above the “maximum allowable amount”. Your travel insurance policy number is ADD N04834823. It is underwritten by Chubb Insurance Company.
The travel insurance works on a reimbursement basis. There is no deductible or co-insurance. You can submit a claim for a refund consideration of covered expenses. For more information about the medical claim process or about non-medical claims.
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 Status

Contact ACI at

Personal Property Insurance
Consider having additional protection for your property, as you may 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.
The UCEAP Travel Insurance policy offers limited personal property coverage. Review the policy carefully before departure to determine if it is adequate coverage for your possessions before you experience a loss. 
If you decide to purchase supplemental personal property coverage, do so before departure and make sure that the coverage extends while traveling. The host university does not protect student belongings—even in university accommodations.
You are responsible for your own personal property. Use logical precautions to safeguard valuables from damage or theft by locking your room and securing currency, jewelry, passport, and other possessions.
Staying Healthy
University of California does not make any representation of warranty with respect to the names of medical providers referenced on this Staying Healthy chapter. The names listed are only a point of reference as the University of California does not recommend or endorse any medical provider on this list.
Local Medical Facilities
​A list of English-speaking doctors is available at the US Embassy’s website. You can also contact the UCEAP Study Center or partner institution staff for r ecommendations on physicians or specialists that students have used in the past.
Local doctors expect direct payment. If you are sick or injured, seek care, pay for treatment and submit a claim through the UCEAP travel insurance. Many doctors do not accept credit card payment. Make sure you budget for this expense. For information about benefits and the claims process email ACI,


Madrid Facilities: 

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.
Contact Tourist Health at HM Hospitals to set up non-emergency medical appointments that can be billed directly to the insurance company. 
Phone: (+34) 629 823 493 (24/7)
You will not have to fill out a claim form, but you will need to provide the following information:
  • Your name
  • Your UC ID # (which serves as the ‘Member #)
  • UCEAP Policy #: ADDN04834823 (claims processed by ACI)
  • Your contact info: phone and/or email address
Preventive care (including health screenings not ordered by a doctor and vaccinations) is not covered. If these services or any other services that are not covered are billed to ACI, ACI will not cover the payment and you will be required to pay.
You can find more about local health care on the UCEAP Madrid Study Center website​.
Physical Health
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. Let the Study Center know of any medical services you receive, even in routine or non-emergency situations.
Basic wellness
Follow these tips to maintain good health and wellness:
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption and smoking.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Get regular exercise.
Physical Fitness
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.

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 US 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.
Prescription Medications


Research and Resources:

  • Find out if your prescription is legal and licensed in your UCEAP country.  There are many resources you can check: The US embassy website for the country where you will be studying; the foreign embassy for the country where you will be studying; regulations from official foreign government sites; the International Narcotics Control Board (link below).
  • As a UCEAP participant you are covered by the UCEAP Travel Insurance. Review the UCEAP Travel Insurance terms of coverage. It is not the same as your campus health insurance coverage.
  • Refer to UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, specifically the Health and Insurance sections.

Schedule an appointment with your doctor as least 3-6 months before departure to discuss your medication and treatment plan:

  • Ask if you can get a prescription to last the entire duration of your program. Consider that you may need to fill your prescription abroad.
  • Obtain a letter from the prescribing physician on letterhead indicating your diagnosis, treatment, medication regimen, and generic name(s) of medication(s) as brand names vary around the world. This will be for passing through Customs and for refilling abroad.
  • Your doctor may need to change your medication at least 3-6 months before departure to monitor side effects and dosage.
  • Discuss how to adjust dosage to account for different time zones.


Airport Security

  • Keep medication in its original packaging clearly labelled with your name, doctor's name, generic/brand name, and exact dosage. 
  • Carry copies of original US prescriptions and carry the letter from your doctor (see above).
  • Travel with medications in your carry-on luggage, provided it is in pill form. Consult the US Transportation Security Administration if your medication is liquid.

In Country

  • If you need to refill while abroad, you must see a local doctor as US prescriptions are not valid in other countries. Take with you the letter from your doctor (see above). Note: If the visit to the local doctor is considered preventative care, it will not be covered by the UCEAP Travel Insurance. However, your campus or private insurance plan may cover it.
  • To purchase medication using the UCEAP Travel Insurance coverage, you must pay up front and submit a claim for medication when coverage is effective (14 days before the official start date of your program).
  • Refer to the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, and the Insurance tab on your pre-departure checklist for more insurance information.
  • For specific information about the UCEAP travel insurance coverage, contact,


  • Two classes of medicines - narcotics and psychotropics - are under the control of international law. This covers any medicine that affects the central nervous system and the potential for drug abuse.  The narcotic class mostly relates to analgesic opioids and their derivatives (e.g. morphine and codeine). Psychotropic medications are used to treat conditions such as anxiety, depression, and psychotic conditions. These medications are often highly regulated.
  • If you have a prescription containing controlled substances, check the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). 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 or unlicensed in other countries. Talk with your doctor to switch you to another medication.
Mental Health
​​​​Carlos III Univ. offers psychological support for students. The first appointment is free of charge. For additional appointments, there is a one time fee of €25 for as many appointments as necessary during the semester. For a session in English, book an appointment with Dr. Alfonso Fernández-Martos. Find more information on the Student Support Services page.

SINEWS is a multilingual therapy institute offered through HM Hospital de Madrid, and has bilingual licensed clinical psychologists to help you deal with emergencies 24/7.

SINEWS Multilingual Therapy Institute
M-F 8:30 am - 9:30 pm
Sat 9:00 am to 9:00 pm
Tel: (+34) 91 700 19 79


Consider your host country. Many countries do not have adequate resources. How will you manage your mental health while studying abroad, whether or not you have a pre-existing condition? 
If you are currently in treatment in the US, discuss all program details with your doctor so you can work on a plan in case you need to reach out for care. Carry a letter from your doctor (on letterhead) indicating condition, treatment history, and medication regimen so a local physician can assess your needs.

If you are taking a prescription medication, talk with your prescribing physician before departure about getting the supply you need for the length of your stay. Traveling through customs with medications for personal use can be problematic in countries where those medications are prohibited. Examples include stimulants frequently used for attention deficit disorders, such as amphetamine, methylphenidate, and narcotics. Prohibited substances vary depending on the country. For information about traveling with medications, refer to the Prescription Medications section in this guide.​

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.


  • Do not try to manage alone. Reach out to local staff.
  • 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. For information about the claims process, access Insurance Claims Process. If you have questions about your UCEAP travel insurance benefits contact ACI at
Health Risks
Food Allergies

​Students with 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.

  • Talk with your doctor before departure to discuss how to manage your allergy.
  • Research the local cuisine. Learn the names of foods that cause allergies in the local language.
  • Wear a medical alert tag with instructions in English/local language.
  • Carry medications to treat surprise reactions.
  • Tell others about your food allergy.

For more information, read the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Health chapter.​

Air Quality
Smoking & Alcohol


Smoking in public places is now illegal in Spain (ley antitabaco); however, when looking to dine in a smoke-free environment, keep in mind that people may smoke on the outdoor terraces or patios, but not inside the restaurant.
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.


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 US college campuses. Drunkenness 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.
Staying Safe
While traveling, you are subject to the local laws even if you are a US citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own and it is very important to know what is legal and what is not. If you break local laws while abroad, your US passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution, and the US Embassy cannot get you out of jail.
Minimize Risk

Safety is our concern but it is your responsibility. Be proactive in protecting your personal health, safety, and well-being. Have an action plan.

With the right information - and by thinking ahead - everyone can play a part in minimizing or preventing personal risks. Observe and assess the risks, plan ahead to reduce them, and think about how you can lessen the consequences if things go wrong. Start by outlining activities you plan to engage in through your program and/or during independent travel. Label the risk and rate it based on the likelihood of harm and the severity of the consequences. Consider measures you can take to reduce the severity and chance. Plan your itinerary carefully, let your friends and relatives know where you will be, and research the safest way to travel.


Be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate and unpredictable terrorist attacks. Remain vigilant in all public areas in your UCEAP city and country and wherever you travel. Many terrorist groups, seeking publicity for political causes within their own country or region, are not looking for student or higher education targets.
Terrorist attacks using vehicles are very hard to prevent and appear to be on the rise. If you are in a crowded public place, know how you can exit quickly, identify barriers, identify safe places where you can shelter-in-place, and watch out for any vehicles that appear to be going at high speed.

Report anything suspicious to local authorities. Read all security-related correspondence and advice from local staff. Schedule direct flights, if possible. Avoid stops in high-risk airports or areas. Minimize time spent in the public area of an airport, which is a less protected area. Keep a mental note of safe havens, such as police stations, hotels, and hospitals. Have a plan for what you will do in the case of an emergency. If you are ever in a situation where somebody starts shooting, follow the active shooter guidelines: drop to the floor, get down as low as possible, and hide if possible. Cover yourself behind a solid object. Silence your phone. Do not move until the danger has passed.

Steps to manage or minimize risk and enhance your personal safety

  • Familiarize yourself with all UCEAP resources and emergency support services while on UCEAP.
  • Research potential risks you can encounter before you travel.
  • Observe and assess your surroundings. Learn to recognize danger.
  • Trust your feelings. If you feel threatened, act if safe to do so and leave the area immediately. Find somewhere more secure.
  • When entering larger venues, always decide on a meeting place with those you are with in case you get separated. Always identify possible exits.
  • Drink responsibly. Know your limits. In many countries, beer, wine and liquor contain a higher alcohol content than similar products in the US. Know what you are drinking and how much alcohol it contains.
  • Practice the buddy system. Choose your buddy wisely. 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 locally if you are in an emergency? Do your friends and relatives know how to reach you when you are traveling?

Registration with the local US Embassy or Consulate

Register online with the US embassy through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service for US citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.

Registration with the UCEAP Security Provider

You will be automatically registered with WorldAware, the University of California security provider. You will receive important security and informational messages about local conditions for your program country.
The University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) has established policies and procedures and has contracted with emergency assistance and security providers, to help you minimize your risk exposure and enhance your safety. Refer to the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, for more information. Access the US Department of State Students Abroad website for updated travel information.
Crime & Prevention

Minimize your chance of becoming a victim

Spain is considered a safe destination, though petty crime continues to be a concern, particularly in urban areas and locations frequented by tourists. Common crime tactics include victim distraction (asking for directions, dropping things and asking for assistance), theft of baggage at hotels and airports during check-in, and theft of belongings set on a table or hung over a chair at a restaurant. 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.
  • Learn which areas of the city to avoid.
  • Carry emergency phone numbers with you at all times
  • Do not walk alone when the streets are deserted, such as during the siesta or at night. Students walking home alone at night have been mugged, even right outside their apartment door.
  • Do not carry valuables (credit cards, cash) all in one place.
  • Blend in with the locals - college sweatshirts, sweatpants, baseball caps, flip-flops, and shorts are all associated with Americans. This clothing will likely make you a target for thieves.
  • Protect yourself against creditcard skimming/cloning by looking at ATMs for possible skimming devices, keeping your pin safe, and monitoring bank statements.

Drugs & Alcohol

Drinking impairs a person's judgment, coordination, and reaction time.
  • Stay in control of your drinking. If you are drunk, your personal safety is compromised.
  • Never lose sight of your drink or accept a drink from a stranger. A past particiant reported instances of drinks spiked with illegal substances. "Date-rape" drugs, GBH, and liquid ecstasy are examples of drugs that may be used in bars and clubs.
  • There have been serious accidents (some fatal) due to falls from balconies. A number of these accidents involved the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Photocopies of Important Documents

Make photocopies of your passport, credit card/ATM numbers, emergency phone numbers, and other valuable information 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 of new cards. Avoid carrying your passport whenever possible to prevent it from being stolen. Make a copy of the first page of your passport to use as a form of ID. In case your passport is lost or stolen, immediately notify the nearest US embassy or consulate, local authorities, and the Study Center.

Civil Unrest

Demonstrations & Protests

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.

Political Violence

Spain faces terrorism threats from both the Basque terrorist organization ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna—Basque Fatherland and Liberty) and al-Qa’ida elements and cells. ETA traditionally directs its attacks against government officials (police, military, and politicians) and facilities, as well as journalists and business executives (especially those involved in bringing high-speed rail to the Basque region). While ETA operates principally in the areas of northern Spain and southwestern France, attacks do take place in other areas including Madrid, Andalusia, and Barcelona.
Traffic & Transportation Safety

Public Transportation

Spain has an excellent network of roads and highways. Public transportation in large Spanish cities is generally excellent and travel is usually secure. Do not drive. Spain has a high rate of car accidents, especially among young people. 
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. Keep it in front of you, on your lap.
Rail service is comfortable and reliable, but varies in quality and speed. Intercity buses are comfortable and inexpensive.
Travel tips:
  • Travel during the day. If overnight travel is required, book tickets only on international rail lines, in a lockable cabin.
  • Avoid traveling alone - travel with a friend.
  • Use the highest class of travel and the most direct booking available.
  • Train stations are usually open 24 hours a day and have limited security. Stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Avoid using the station’s public restrooms if they are vacant or not guarded by an attendant.


Licensed taxis provide a more secure means of transport. 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 the vehicle, 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.

Pedestrian Safety

Road safety is a concern. Practice safe pedestrian behaviors:
  • Use indicated pedestrian crossings marked with black and white (zebra) wide striped lines.
  • Cross streets at a corner, using traffic signals where available.
  • 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.
  • Do not assume cars will stop or that they see you - always check to make sure both directions are clear.
  • When going out at night, wear brightly colored or reflective clothing.
  • Exercise increased caution before you cross where the view is restricted.

Madrid Transportation

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 operate on 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).
Sexual Violence & Sexual Harassment

University of California Policy

Every member of the UCEAP community should be aware that the University prohibits sexual violence and sexual harassment, retaliation, and other prohibited behavior (“Prohibited Conduct”) that violates law and/o​r University policy. The University will respond promptly and effectively to reports of Prohibited Conduct and will take appropriate action to prevent, to correct, and when necessary, to discipline behavior that violates this Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. Report to the local partners and/or UCEAP staff if you suspect one of these behaviors has occurred.
Fire Safety
Educate yourself about fire safety standards in your UCEAP country, as they differ drastically around the world.
  • Locate the nearest emergency exists and make sure they are not obstructed.
  • Know the sound of the fire alarm; not all alarms will sound the same.
  • Know how to call the local fire department.
  • Print and take with you the UCEAP brochure, Fire Safety 101 for Students.
  • Purchase and use a smoke detector. The Fire Safety Foundation has  a variety of battery-powered smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. They will ship to your host country address.
  • Have an escape plan.
  • If you have a disability, alert others of the type of assistance you need in order 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 US Department of State or CDC issues a Travel Advisory 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, UC security providers, US Embassy, US 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.

Security Evacuation

The UCEAP required security evacuation will override any host institution, or local US Embassy evacuation on US government-arranged flights, that require US citizens to sign a promissory note with the government. The safe evacuation of UCEAP students, managed by UCEAP and its experienced security providers, is covered by UCEAP insurance. UC students are required to follow UC safety directives in the event of an evacuation.
In An Emergency

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 US

  • 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 
US Embassy in Madrid
American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit
Calle Serrano 75
28006 Madrid
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
The University of California, in accordance with applicable Federal and State law and University policy, does not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, pregnancy,* disability, age, medical condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era veteran or special disabled veteran. The University also prohibits sexual harassment. This nondiscrimination policy covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs and activities. Inquiries regarding the University’s student-related nondiscrimination policies may be directed to the campus Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action office.

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