Tufts-Skidmore in Spain is happy to welcome our Full-Year 2013-14 and Fall 2013 group to MADRID and ALCALÁ! We are looking forward to welcoming all 36 of you on August 30th at Barajas Airport in Madrid. We have designed this page to provide a link to our program Pre-Departure Handbook and to provide answers to FAQs that arise during your semester with the program. Whether you will live in Alcalá or Madrid, this section provides quick answers for questions on program resources, academics, logistics, safety and much more.
If you don’t see your question answered in the PRE-DEPARTURE HANDBOOK or in the FAQs section below, feel free to ask using the “Ask a Question” link below or email us at email@example.com. The Pre-Departure handbook is written in English and is a great source of information for parents, so please share it with yours. ¡¡Mucha suerte!!
FY 2013-14 & Fall 2013 STUDENTS! Click below to access the Pre-Departure Informational Handbook prepared for you by the program. Email us with any questions!
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Madrid Program Center
10am to 8pm Mon-Thurs; 10am to 6pm, Friday
91 702 4513 (office)
Director, Susan Sánchez Casal (+34 690 625 612)
Asst. Director, Mayte De Las Heras
On-site Coordinators, Luis Castilla, Gloria Fortún
Alcalá Program Center
9am to 8pm, Mon-Thurs; 9am to 6pm, Friday
Tel./ Fax: 91 885 2405
On-Site Coordinatorss, Miguel Ángel Lera (Executive Coordinator), Sergio Barreiro
It's important for a number of reasons. The first is that the program centers are a great place to improve your language skills with your peers. It's crucial that you learn to "be yourselves in Spanish" with each other from the start of the program. We understand that when you are in an exclusively American group outside of the program center that you will speak English. But we do require you to speak only Spanish to each other in our program office. It's a way of encouraging each other to keep making the daily effort to get better and better, more and more comfortable, in your adopted language. Your main objective in coming here is to master Spanish, and we want to keep you on that path. When the program staff hear you speaking English in our midst, in our workplace, where we work hard to create the resources you need to fulfill your objectives, we feel discouraged. When we hear you speaking Spanish to each other, we feel great, because we see you taking your task seriously, we see you rising to the occasion, and we also see that our work is supporting you in reaching your goals. Remember that every time you open your mouth in English, you just lost an opportunity to learn something new in Spanish. And your time here will go by quickly! So, speak Spanish in the program centers, and whenever you can! You will not be sorry when you get back to the states, believe us!
Yes. Civilization and Contemporary Spanish Art, Theater and Contemporary Spanish Society, Imagining the Americas and Advanced Spanish Grammar count for 1 credit at Tufts and 4 credits at Skidmore (full credit at both institutions). Sketchbook counts at Skidmore for 4 credits in Spanish and at Tufts for 1 credit in Spanish. Check with your institution on whether or not Sketchbook counts for Fine Arts credit and for how many credits.
REIMBURSABLE EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES AND TRAVEL:
You have up to 320€ that can be used for reimbursable activities (a list of these activities can be found in the links above, in the Student Orientation Handbook). You have up to 200€ that can be used for reimbursable cultural travel in Spain. IMPORTANT: If you do not engage in reimbursable activities or travel, you cannot access these funds.
UNLIMITED REIMBURSEMENT FOR ATTENDANCE TO CULTURAL MONUMENTS AND EVENTS:
Attendance to monuments, museums, and approved cultural events, including plays, movies, dance events, art expos and concerts, are fully reimbursable upon submission of receipts. There are limits for the price of tickets, and you must use your "Carné Joven" to get the student discount in order to qualify for reimbursement.
HOW TO GET REIMBURSED:
Students are reimbursed once a month for cultural activities, extracurriculars and travel. Receipts with your name on them must be turned-in to program staff by the LAST FRIDAY of the month, in order to receive reimbursement (you will be reminded about dates for submission of receipts at weekly meetings). Reimbursements will be credited to your debit card the Tuesday (Alcalá) or Wednesday (Madrid) following the submission of receipts. No event can be reimbursed without a receipt, so hang on to them!
You receive 77€ each week for your meal allowance (for the one daily meal that you don't eat at your host family's home). The meal stipend is not a reimbursement plan so no receipts are necessary; the 77€ are automatically credited to your debit card each week, following your attendance to the weekly meeting. Unlike with the reimbursement funds available for extracurricular activities and cultural travel, the meal allowance money is yours, whether or not you spend it on your daily meal.
Sometimes the magnetic strip gets demagnetized and a card will need to be replaced. Try to make sure to keep your card away from your cell phone or other devices that can demagnetize it. Make sure you change the pin to one you can remember easily when you first get your card so that the card does not get blocked because of putting in the wrong pin.
IF YOUR CARD STOPS WORKING:
If your card is broken, inform program staff immediately. We will issue you a replacement card immediately (the same day) and will transfer your balance to the new card.
The monthly transportation pass consists of two parts: the "tarjeta" which has your photo and name on it and holds your monthly "billete" (a new billete must be purchased each month). Your monthly billete cannot be replaced by the program. You will have to pay for the replacement ticket yourself. However, the program does have a back-up copy of your tarjeta, and we can provide it to you so that you can get your new billete (you won't have to apply for another tarjeta, with your photo, etc).
If any perceived problem arises with your host family you should inform the director immediately. The director will discuss and assess the situation with you, and will determine what steps need to be taken. You should also feel free to discuss the situation directly with your host family, but we recommend that you first raise the issue with us, so that we can mediate in the process. There are program protocols in place to deal with any issues that may arise, so please feel reassured. The most important thing is that you communicate with the program director in a timely fashion. Bear in mind that a student has the absolute right to request a change of host family, and although the program endeavors to mediate problems as a first recourse, we will always respect a student's right to request a change of host family.
Yes, you can! Please see Luis Castilla (Madrid) or Sergio Barreiro (Alcalá) to receive a new list of names of interested Spanish students. Remember that getting acquainted with your Spanish intercambios is one of the best ways to start meeting Spanish peers, so keep up your efforts!
Anytime you get an email from the office of Relaciones Internacionales or from any department, please forward the email immediately to Mayte (Madrid) or Miguel (Alcalá). Sending them the email will allow them to help you respond, if you need to, and it will also alert them to any changes at the UAM/UAH that they should be aware of. Do not attempt to answer the email yourself or to follow its instructions until you have spoken to Mayte or Miguel (firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com)
Miguel Lera handles UAH registration. After orientation, your academic advising with the director, and your two-week trial period, Miguel will register you into your classes at UAH. If you receive any emails from UAH about registration, please forward them to Miguel and consult with him before doing anything.
Mayte De Las Heras handles the UAM registration, which is a bit complicated. Please pay close attention to her emails and to her comments at weekly meetings. Mayte will coordinate all registration proceedings and she will register you. But you do need to provide her with the information that she asks for in a timely fashion. Remember to forward to Mayte any email that you receive from the UAM about registration process. No matter what they say, please consult with Mayte before doing anything.
YES! For both Alcalá and Madrid students, attendance at your weekly program meeting is mandatory. The weekly meetings are key to keeping you on track with academic procedures and deadlines, security advisories, general program information and requirements, program and extracurricular activities, and job and volunteer opportunities.
The best way to get a peer tutor is to ask your professor to recommend one to you. You should also observe your classmates to see which of them attends regularly, takes good notes, pays attention, etc. If you see someone who seems to fit that bill, you are free to approach them and ask if they would like to tutor you. The program will pay your tutor 7€ an hour, up to three hours a week, to tutor you. Tutors typically share their classnotes with you, read your papers for you, explain difficult concepts, answer questions, help you with your Spanish, etc. Students who get tutors invariably do better in their university classes, and they often find a friend in their tutor. If you have trouble identifying a suitable tutor, please inform program staff and we will assist you.
No! We recommend that you make a copy of your passport after arriving in Spain, and that you carry only the copy. Leave your U.S. driver's license, unnecessary credit cards, passport and other important documents in your room, and carry only what is necessary (transportation pass, program debit card, copy of your passport, ATM card from home if necessary). The less you carry with you, the less there is to lose.
Students are required to fill out a travel form that lists day of departure, day of return, all places to be visited and names of people you will travel with. For trips longer than 3 days, or that require that you miss a class, you must get the director's approval.
No! The two-week orientation period is mandatory for all students. This is a crucial period for your initial adaption to Spanish culture and social norms, the program, the Spanish university, your host family, Spanish peers and important security measures. Your presence during the entire period is therefore required.
Yes! The program features an exciting line-up of events (two each semester) and we consider these to be an important part of your academic and cultural experience while in Spain. These events are followed by a wine and tapas reception, which our students enjoy very much!
There’s only a few weeks left in the semester and I still don't have a peer tutor. Is it too late to get one?
IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO GET A PEER TUTOR! Please consult with program staff to get guidance about how to get a tutor. Tutors are especially useful at the end of the semester in helping you with final papers and exams. Our most successful students are those who have tutors, so get one today!
I have a question about getting Tufts or Skidmore credit for a certain course. Who should I talk to?
The first person you should talk to is your advisor in the States. He or she is the best resource for answering questions about how you can apply credits earned in Spain to specific areas. The director of the program is also a good resource and can answer many questions about how program courses can be used for credit. Your institution's Programs Abroad office will also try to assist you: At Skidmore, contact Tina Breakell (firstname.lastname@example.org), and at Tufts, Dr. Sheila Bayne (email@example.com).
They are highly recommended and universally loved by students, but no, they are not mandatory. We understand that students may schedule other types of activities or travel for themselves, or that they may have visitors, so we keep the excursions optional. We do ask that you let us know before the deadline if you are not going to attend. Students who sign up for excursions and then decide not to attend at the last minute will have to pay the costs associated with the late cancellation (programmed meals, hotel room, etc).
The 200€ travel money is set-aside to help students pay for culturally relevant trips within Spain. While we value the benefit of international travel and discovery during your time in Spain, we hope to encourage students to travel to as many provinces of Spain as possible during their semester or year abroad.
No! In Spain it is incredibly expensive to call from a landline to a cell phone. Please use your own cell phone to place cell phone calls. Students are allowed to use the host family phone to make a couple of short calls a day, landline to landline.
You should enter the emergency cell phone number into your phone upon your arrival to Spain. The phone will be answered 24 hours a day and is to be called only in a real emergency. You should also enter the national emergency number, 112. You should enter your host family's phone numbers as well as all of your program peers' phone numbers. You should also carry the emergency information card that we provide to you during orientation, in case your cell phone is lost or stolen. We strongly recommend using the "buddy system" while abroad, so that you will not find yourself alone if something happens. If any emergency situation occurs, and the emergency cell phone cannot be reached, do not hesitate to call the director's cell phone, or any other staff member's cell phone, day or night. If there is no response, go to the next number on the list until you connect with one of the program staff.
Not getting intoxicated and losing your judgment is the best way to avoid getting taken advantage of on the street or in clubs, although some students become victims of petty theft even if they take these precautions. The U.S. embassy reports that the misuse of alcohol is involved in over 90% of mishaps that afflict American students studying abroad. So if you can avoid getting drunk in public, you will have made a massive move in favor of your security. We recommend that you do not travel in large groups of English speaking Americans, that you do not advertise your foreignness, but try instead to keep a low profile, try to blend in. Be alert when traveling on the subway, or when sitting in cafés frequented by foreigners (or when talking in English). Do not carry you wallet in your back pocket nor in a backpack that you wear on your back. Women should carry their purses crossed shouldered, and should keep one hand on top of the purse at all times. Do not be distracted while taking public transportation; stay alert; don't linger by the door of the subway train. Do not walk alone on the streets of downtown Madrid in the wee hours of the morning. Use the buddy system!
You should inform the director or program staff immediately by calling the emergency cell phone number. If it's 4am and you realize you've either lost or had your wallet stolen, you don't need to call the emergency cell phone at that precise moment. But do so once the office opens in the morning. If however, you are the victim of a violent crime, do not hesitate to call the emergency cell phone immediately, no matter what time of the day or night. If there is no answer, call the director's cell phone and if there is no answer, call the next staff member on your cell phone list. The program will assist you in filling out a police report and with replacing your stolen items. 99% of crimes in Spain are weaponless, and usually petty theft, but these incidents are distressing and we want to make sure that you let us know about it so that we can support you and get you the help you need.
The misuse and/or abuse of alcohol or other drugs is cause for possible separation from the program. The Tufts-Skidmore program in Spain is a division of Tufts University and Skidmore College, and as such, students are bound by the same rules of conduct here as there. A student who displays reckless behavior with alcohol is considered to be a risk to him or herself and to the program. Students who display any sign of potential alcohol dysfunction will be required to submit to an alcohol-drug screening test, and a psychological evaluation, and the incident will be reported to the Dean of Students at your institution. Based on the results of this report and the recommendation of the Dean and the program director, the student will either be dismissed or placed on probation and required to continue in counseling sessions until it is determined that he or she does not pose a threat to him/herself and the program. Students who are on probation are prohibited from travelling outside of Madrid or Alcalá.
Spanish drug laws are constantly changing, and the program cannot take responsibility for informing you about current drug laws. Our recommendation is that you avoid recreational drugs while in Spain, as our experience has shown that their purchase and use can put you at serious risk. Any student who is found to be involved drug-related activities may be immediately separated from the program.