25 Feb Study abroad checklist
Everything you need to do before your study abroad program in Spain
Are you going to study abroad in Spain soon, and are you feeling overwhelmed? Centro MundoLengua is here to help you prepare for the big trip! Read on for our study abroad checklist essentials.
Apply for a passport and 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. It is at the very top of our study abroad checklist, because 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 study abroad program in Spain!
Normally, you should have at least 6 months validity of your passport beyond the expected departure date for your study abroad program. You may be refused entry into Spain, or even refused from boarding the plane if your passport does not meet this condition.
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 short-term study abroad programs in Spain.
American citizens can get Passports & International Travel information on the US Official Guide to Government Information and services.
Meet your study abroad advisor
For college and university students, a meeting with your study abroad advisor should be should be on the top of your study abroad checklist, Check with your study abroad advisor to make sure the classes you take will transfer! Your advisor can also put you in contact with alumni who have studied abroad in Spain with the same program. Talking to alumni who have experienced the same program will help you allay any fear you may have.
Find ways to finance your study abroad program in Spain
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 school or university study abroad office.
Students can also qualify for federal loans or financial aid. Google the U.S. Department of Education – Federal Student Aid website to get more information.
Centro MundoLengua also offers scholarships for our summer high school study abroad programs in Spain. You can find more information on our scholarship page.
If you are not eligible for scholarships and/or financial aid, fundraising through FundMyTravel can help you to make your trip more affordable.
Buy your plane tickets
Booking a flight should be at the top of your study abroad checklist.
Look out for student airfare specials. Many airlines offer cheaper air fare for students. Here are some resources:
- Student Universe: this discount student travel agency allows students to book cheap student fights.
- Lufthansa’s GenerationFly: this airline offers flight deals exclusively for American students.
We also advise you to visit flight travel providers such as Skyscanner to get the best possible fare on your flight.
Get travel insurance
Although we are confident everything will be fine during your study abroad program in Spain, it´s always better to be safe than sorry! If you are planning to travel to Spain, it is vital to have the right type of insurance.
Typically, our study abroad programs for middle and high school students include health insurance.
For our college / university study abroad programs, most students travel with the international insurance plan provided by their host institution. 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 abroad in Spain, you should schedule a routine checkup and visit your family physician and dentist before leaving for your Spain. If you take prescription medications, bring a supply to last throughout your study abroad program, as medications in Spain may not be the same as those in your country.
Get to know Spanish customs and 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.
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, 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. For more information regarding packing for Spain, visit our FAQ section.
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.
Make communication arrangements
A great option for communicating with your family and friends is through video chat, such as Skype, Facebook, Zoom, and Whatsapp. For our semester study abroad programs only, Centro MundoLengua will provide you with a SIM card for the duration of the semester.
We hope our study abroad checklist will help you get prepared for your future study abroad program in Spain! If you want more tips, we invite you to visit our FAQ question section to learn more.