Study abroad in Spain: Pre-departure
Are you going to be studying abroad in Spain soon, but are feeling overwhelmed? Centro MundoLengua is here to help prepare you for the big trip! Here is a list of the top 9 Musts before your study abroad departure.
1 – Apply for a passport & visa
Students from countries outside the European Union who intend to study abroad in Spain for a summer or semester program must obtain a passport. As it can take a lot of time to get a passport, Centro MundoLengua advises you to start the process as soon as possible. If you already have a passport, make sure that it has not expired or that it will not expire during your summer or semester in Spain!
If you plan to study abroad in Spain for at least a semester or an academic year, you will also need a visa. Contact your nearest Spanish consulate for a student visa application. Visas are not required for summer programs in Spain.
American citizens can get Passports & International Travel information on the US Department of State- Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website.
2- Meet your study abroad office advisor:
Check with your advisor to make sure the classes you take will transfer! Your advisor can also put you in contact with alumni who have studied in Spain with the same program. Talking to alumni who have experienced the same program will help you allay any fear you may have.
3- Find ways to finance your study abroad trip
Studying abroad is an investment in your future. You can´t afford not to go!
If you want to study abroad without having to spend lot of money, there are many scholarships available, whether they are merit-based, student-specific, destination-specific, program-specific, etc. Check with your university study abroad office. Centro MundoLengua also offers scholarships for all our summer programs in Spain. You can find more information on our scholarship page.
Students can also qualify for federal loans or financial aid. Google the U.S. Department of Education and Federal Student Aid website to get more information.
If you are not eligible for scholarships and/or financial aid, fundraising can help you to make your trip more affordable.
4- Buy a plane ticket
Booking a flight should be at the top of your priorities.
Look out for student airfare specials. Many airlines offer cheaper air fare for college & university students. Here are some resources:
- STA Travel and Student Universe: these discount student travel agencies allow students to book cheap student fights.
- Lufthansa’s GenerationFly: this airline offers flight deals exclusively for American students.
- American Ailrines: this airline offers a 10% discount on international and domestic flights for students.
We also advise you to visit flight travel providers such as Skyscanner or Fare Comparece to get the best possible fare on your flight.
5- Get travel insurance
Although we are confident everything will be fine during your study abroad experience in Spain, it´s always better to be safe than sorry! If you are planning to study in Spain, it is vital to have the right type of insurance. Typically, most students travel with the international insurance plan provided by their host university. You can also compare international insurance plans quickly and easily here.
If you wish to have additional health insurance while in Spain, please ask Centro MundoLengua for further information. We work with one of Spain´s most reputable providers.
Although no immunizations are required to study in Spain, you should schedule a routine checkup and visit your family physician and dentist before leaving for your study abroad experience. If you take prescription medications, bring a supply to last throughout your time abroad, as medications in Spain may not be the same as those in your country.
6- Get to know Spanish customs & Culture
Once in Spain, you will notice a fair number of cultural differences. It is important to be aware of these cultural differences before arriving to avoid awkward situations while studying abroad in Spain. Start practicing your Spanish so that you can better communicate with your Spanish family homestay and become aware of the cultural differences: greetings, food traditions, business hours, university culture in Spain, Spanish bureaucracy, metric system, weight and measurements, tipping, etc.
7- Pack smart and realistically!
You will need casual clothing and more formal attire. In Spain, people tend to dress up when going out at night. Pack comfortable shoes too, because Spaniards do a lot of walking and you will too! However, try to pack lightly because airlines always have weight restrictions.
Here’s a list of some items you shouldn´t forget:
- Plane ticket
- Passport + photocopies.
- Credit card + some cash.
- Notebook with important addresses, passport number, numbers to call in case of lost or stolen credit cards, travelers’-check numbers, emergency contacts, etc. .
- Comfortable clothes for daytime and evening activities
- A few nice outfits for going out at night.
- Athletic clothes for running by the river, etc.
- Beach towel.
- Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, shampoo, etc.). These items can be purchased in Spain, but it is a good idea to bring some starter items. .
- Sufficient quantities of any prescription medications that you are taking.
- A few washcloths if you use them. Spaniards’ towel linens will generally not include a washcloth.
- Photos of home, family, pets, etc., that will help tell your host family about you.
- Small gift for host family.
Of course this list is not exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of some of the things you might need. It is best to get along without appliances such as hairdryers, which add weight and bulk to your luggage. In order to operate American appliances abroad, you will need both a plug adapter and a voltage converter (which are also heavy and bulky) because Spain’s electrical system is 220v, versus the 110v used in the US.
8- Make money arrangements
We recommend that you bring about 100 euros in cash to start. This will provide immediate access to funds, in case of any emergencies. Beyond that, we recommend that students bring a debit card (Visa is widely accepted) with numeric pin. This will allow them to take money out of the ATMs (everywhere in the city), and to obtain the best possible exchange rates.
9-Make Communication arrangements
A great option for communicating with your family and friends is through video chat, such as Skype, Facebook, and Google +. Centro MundoLengua can also provide you phones through Piccell Wireless. These are mobile phones (unblocked international phones and yours to keep) delivered to your home before departure, with a working Spanish mobile number. Upon arrival in Spain, you simply need to turn the phone on. More information can be found at: www.piccellwireless.com/mundolengua
We hope these tips will help you to get prepared for your future study abroad experience in Spain! If you want more tips, we invite you to visit our FAQ question section to learn more.