FAQs: Current Students

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Tufts-Skidmore in Spain is happy to welcome our Full-Year 2016-17 and Spring 2017 group to MADRID and ALCALÁ! 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 or year 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 info@tufts-skidmore.es. 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!!

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Current Students FAQs

What do I do if I have a problem with my host family?

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.

Is it ok if I make calls to cell phones from my host-family’s landline?

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.

Are recreational drugs illegal in Spain?

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 involved drug-related activities will be immediately dismissed from the program.

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!

Can I travel during the orientation period?

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.

Why is it so important that we speak only Spanish in the Alcalá and Madrid program centers?

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!

How does the peer tutor program work and how do I get a tutor?

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.

I got an email from the UAM/UAH and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do. Who do I talk to?

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.

What’s the best way to protect myself from getting pickpocketed?

Not getting intoxicated and losing your judgment is the best way to avoid getting taken advantage of on the street or in clubs. 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. 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!

Should I carry my passport with me at all times while in Spain?

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.

Are program excursions mandatory?

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).

What do I have to do to register at the UAH in Alcalá?

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.

What happens if I have an incident as a result of alcohol intoxication?

The misuse and/or abuse of alcohol or other drugs is cause for possible dismissal 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. Based on the results of this report, 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.

What procedures do I need to follow when I travel?

Prior to travel outside of Madrid and Alcalá, students are required to fill out a travel form that lists logistical information, 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. Students are also required to register with Smart Traveler before traveling outside of Spain.

How do we stay informed about weekly program events and deadlines?

The program publishes a weekly newsletter, The Official, that is delivered to your email inbox. A link to the newsletter is tweeted, and also posted on our blog, and on Facebook. The Official contains all weekly events, interesting activities in Madrid and Alcalá, staff and program center operating hours, important phone numbers, security updates and travel advisories.

How can I prepare myself for an emergency situation?

Upon arriving you should enter the program EMERGENCY CELL PHONE number (684 03 20 60) and all program staff cell phone numbers as well as the national emergency number, 112, into your cell phone contacts. You should save 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.

If any emergency situation occurs, do not hesitate to call the EMERGENCY CELL PHONE, day or night. If there is no response, call the director's cell phone, if no response, keep going to the next number on the list until you connect with one of the program staff.

Can I use my travel reimbursement money for trips outside of Spain?

The 170€ 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.

My Spanish "intercambios" are not really working out for me. Can I get new ones?

Yes, you can! Please talk to staff in Madrid or 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!

My debit card isn’t working. How do I get my weekly meal allowance?

Sometimes the magnetic strip gets demagnetized and a card will need to be replaced. Program staff has a replacement card ready for you. Bring your old card to the program center and we will take it from there. Try to make sure to keep your card away from your cell phone or other devices that can demagnetize it.

How does the reimbursement program work?

  • MONTHLY TRANSPORTATION PASS

-City trains, buses, subway.

  • MEAL ALLOWANCE

–77€ per week to cover one meal a day not eaten with host family.

  • EXTRACURRICULAR REIMBURSEMENT

–300€ per semester to cover gym fees, dance, music, ceramics, yoga, cooking classes, etc.

  • TRAVEL MONEY

–170€ per semester to help with independent student travel in Spain.

  • CULTURAL ACTIVITIES REIMBURSEMENT

–Reimbursement for museums, Spanish/Latin American movies, plays, art exhibits, and other cultural activities.

Detailed information.

I have a question about getting Tufts or Skidmore credit for a certain course. Who should I talk to?

Our program is a Tufts and Skidmore program, so you do not need to petition for “transfer” credit. What you will need to do is find out how the credit can be applied. 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 applied for credit. Your institution's Programs Abroad office will also try to assist you: At Skidmore, contact Eliza Camire-Akey, and at Tufts, Dr. Sheila Bayne.

What do I do if I am mugged or pickpocketed?

You should inform the director or program staff immediately by calling the Program Emergency Cell Phone: 684 03 20 60.  If it's 4am, you are physically unharmed, 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. You will need to fill out an incident report for the program and we 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. 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, and if no answer, call either Asst. Director Mayte de las Heras (Madrid) or Asst. Director in Alcalá, Miguel Lera.

What do I do if I lose my monthly transportation card?

Your monthly transportation card (the card that you use to access the subway or bus or train) cannot be replaced by the program. You will have to cancel the lost card yourself and pay for a replacement one (6€). The staff can guide you through this process.

What do I have to do to register at the UAM in Madrid?

Mayte De Las Heras handles the UAM registration, which is a bit complicated. Mayte will coordinate all registration proceedings and she will register you for your classes. Please pay close attention to her emails and please respond promptly to any requests for information. Remember to forward to Mayte any email that you receive from the UAM about registration process. No matter what the content of the email please consult with Mayte before doing anything.

What are the operating hours at the Madrid and Alcalá Program Centers?

Madrid MONTE ESQUINZA Program Center

M-Th    9h-19h
F          9h-17h
91 702 4513 (office)
Director, Susan Sánchez Casal (690 625 612)
Asst. Director, Mayte De Las Heras (680 140 966)

Alcalá MARÍA DE GUZMÁN Program Center

M        9h-12:30h
T         9-15:30h and 16:30-19:30h
W        9 -17h.
Th       9-15:30h and 16:30-19:30h
F          9-15h
Asst. Director in Alcalá, Miguel Ángel Lera (622 867 457)

Is the weekly meeting with my Spanish mentor obligatory?

Yes. The weekly meeting is a great time for you to ask your mentor questions about the university, host family, where to go, etc. Mentor meetings are a great place to meet new people as well, as many mentors bring friends or intercambios to these meetings. These small group meetings are a great way to meet people and to find out about the best things to do in Alcalá and Madrid.