FAQs: Parents & Family

A semester or a year abroad can and should be a powerful event in your child’s life, one that will keep unfolding over a lifetime. We at Tufts-Skidmore Spain are dedicated first and foremost to helping your son or daughter keep themselves safe and sane during their time abroad, to overseeing a top-notch academic experience at the Spanish university and at our program center, and to seeing that when they return home, they will be a little older and a lot wiser–not only about Spanish and international cultures, but about their own. We are here to help your student every step of the way, offering customized academic and extracurricular resources that far surpass our peer programs in Spain. You can rest assured that the Tufts-Skidmore Spain staff will help her/him build the richest and most robust experience possible. You can help us by instilling in your son or daughter a sense of confidence and excitement about the possibility of a semester or year abroad.

Below are some of the common questions and concerns that parents whose children are thinking about an international exchange program have for us. If you don’t see your question below feel free to ask using the “Ask a Question” link below or email us at info@tufts-skidmore.es. We would love to hear from you!

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Parents & Family FAQs

What are the program office hours and the contact numbers?

Program Center

M-Th    9:00-19:00
F            9:00-17:00

Program Center Telephone: +34 91 702 4513 (office)

You can find the staff hours and email addresses here.

When is the best time for me to visit my child in Spain?

We suggest that you plan your trip for the end of the semester, or during academic breaks. We discourage visits at the beginning of the semester or during the regular academic session as it can be disruptive to your child.

I am concerned about my child’s safety. Is Madrid a “safe” city?

Spain has a low incidence of crime in general, the second lowest in Europe and a much lower per-capita rate than any similar mid-sized city in the United States (violent crime and hate crimes are rare). However, non-violent petty theft can be an issue (mostly iPhones), so our program goes to great lengths to teach students how to best protect themselves from this type of crime and to remind them of safety practices throughout the semester/year. Young women need to exercise the same caution that they would anywhere in the United States, or elsewhere in the world, but you should also be aware that the per-capita incidence of reported sexual violence in Spain is much lower than in the U.S.

What happens if my child gets sick while abroad?

The program offers all students, regardless of pre-existing medical conditions, a full coverage Spanish medical insurance policy with the Spanish carrier ADESLAS. All care, emergency, hospitalization and out-patient is covered 100% by the policy. Students will have to pay for medications, but the costs are much lower here than in the US. Additionally, Tufts students are covered for all medical costs including mental health and repatriation by International SOS.

If your child has an existing medical condition, please encourage him or her to contact the program director so that care in Spain can be arranged ahead of time.

Should my child bring his/her medication to Spain?

It's important for students to let us know about any medical condition they may have, including mental health issues. Students should bring any prescriptions, medicines, extra contact lenses or other personal items they use on a regular basis or might need during the semester.

Although American prescriptions cannot be filled in Spain, if your child brings a prescription for a generic drug, a Spanish doctor should be able to write a prescription so that the drug can be filled. It it illegal to send prescription drugs across international lines, so please contact the program director if you have any questions about filling prescriptions while in Spain.

Does the program sponsor cultural excursions?

Yes, the program sponsors 3 cultural excursions each semester. These optional excursions are fully paid for by the program. Past excursions have included El Escorial, Segovia, Andalucía, Toledo, Bilbao-Logroño, Valencia, Extremadura.

What economic resources does the Program provide for students?

  • MONTHLY TRANSPORTATION PASS (City trains, buses, subway)
  • MEAL STIPEND (11€ a day for the one meal a day not taken in the homestay)
  • EXTRACURRICULAR REIMBURSEMENT (300€ per semester to cover gym fees, or classes or other activities offered at private studios or businesses (dance, music, ceramics, yoga, cooking)
  • TRAVEL MONEY (170€ per semester to help with independent student travel in Spain)
  • CULTURAL ACTIVITIES REIMBURSEMENT (Unlimited reimbursement for museums, Spanish language movies (including dubbed movies), plays, dance performances, art exhibits, and other cultural activities)

Will my child be able to do an internship while in Spain?

Yes! Definitely! The program includes a Global Internship placement service offering internships in a diverse array of professional fields, among them: community health, women’s advocacy, international relations, human rights, journalism, diplomacy, education, environmental studies, scientific research, marketing, and finance.

My child plans to travel a lot while in Spain. Does the program support that?

Most students look forward to traveling during their time abroad and we support that. However, we strongly recommend that students take only short trips on the weekends or during breaks and that they avoid travel outside the country while classes are in session.

How long does the orientation period last and what does it consist of?

We conduct a 2-week orientation session that begins the day after the students’ arrival. During the first couple of days we meet and have group-building activities coupled with orientation sessions on safety and intercultural issues. Orientation will continue for the following two weeks, and activities will be a mix of intercultural and Spain specific training, social events, cultural excursions, academic lectures, an on-site orientation at the university, and academic advising.

My child will not stay with his or her host family during scheduled vacations (winter and spring)?

Correct. Host family stay and meal allowance are not provided during vacation periods. The school year runs from mid-September to end of May. There is an approximately 2-3 week winter vacation a 10-day spring vacation. All dates are available on the program calendar on this site.

My child does not have a laptop computer. Will he or she have internet access at the program center?

Yes! Our program center has internet and wifi and is equipped with iMacs, printers and scanners for student use. Host families also have wifi.

What’s the time difference between the U.S. and Spain?

There is a six-hour time difference between Spain and Eastern Standard Time (7, 8 and 9 hours respectively in the other U.S. time zones).

What’s the best way for me to call my son or daughter?

Spanish cell phone customers are not charged for incoming calls, so it’s much cheaper for you to buy an international plan (or use Skype calling) to call your son/daughter than for them to call you. You should download WhatsApp for texting and also for free calling. Students have Internet (wifi) access in their host homes, so videochat or voicechat is of course also a good option if stateside families have computers and Internet access. You may also call your child on the host family’s landline (the number will be provided once the student is in Madrid). Please do not call Spanish homes after 10pm or before 9am local time.

Can my child get a cell phone in Spain?

We actually require that all students have a cell phone in Spain. Many students bring their own smartphones to Spain and change the SIM card.

We'd like to send our child a gift. Is there any problem with getting it through customs?

You can use the Program address to send letters or packages at the beginning of the semester (until you receive the host family’s address). It is advisable to describe the contents of the package as "used personal items" and to list a value under 20€, so that your package will not be stopped by customs. Also, please don’t send your child direct-from-the-manufacturer items unless they are ordered from within the EU, or from a store that has an EU distributor.

Your Child's Name
℅ Tufts-Skidmore in Spain

c/ Fuencarral nº 123,  3º
28010, Madrid

Where can I send letters or packages to my son or daughter?

You can use the Program address to send letters or packages at the beginning of the semester (until you receive the host family’s address).

c/ Fuencarral nº 123,  3º
28010 Madrid

We are concerned about the home stay. Are students generally happy with their home stays?

Yes! In fact, our students often say that the home stay was one of the best parts of their experience. All of our host families are thoroughly vetted and most have been with the program for years. They are experienced in hosting our diverse student body, which includes Students of Color, LGTBQ+ and students with disabilities. We also have host families who can accommodate students with severe allergies and gluten intolerance and/or celiac disease. Hosts are 100% dedicated to the health and wellbeing of your child. We will send detailed information about the host family selected for your child at least one month prior to his/her arrival (over email), including the family’s address, email and contact phone numbers.

What if my son/daughter is unhappy with his or her host family?

We have a wonderful, diverse pool of host families and we do our very best to place students in a compatible and supportive host family situation. We have a rigorous selection procedure for host families and the director and assistant director visit and inspect host family homes each year. Additionally, the extensive housing questionnaire that students fill out, and the on-campus interview conducted by the director before student departure for Spain help to ensure a successful placement. We make every effort to get this right. However, the system is not foolproof and each year 1 or 2 students request a host-family change. Student requests to change families are always honored by the program.

The program makes it clear to students that if any perceived problem arises with their host family they should inform the director immediately. The director will discuss and assess the situation with the student, and will determine what steps need to be taken. Your student should also feel free to discuss the situation directly with his or her host family, but we recommend that the student 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 with the host family, so please feel reassured. The most important thing is that your child communicate with the program director in a timely fashion.

Our students has the unquestionable 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.

My daughter is going to Madrid to study at a Spanish university for a year. I feel so lost! Is there a contact person I can talk to?

For any inquiries about the program, please contact the director, Susan Sánchez Casal, at susan.sanchez@tufts-skidmore.es

What’s the easiest way for me to stay in contact with my child?

It will be easy for you to stay in contact with your child while s/he is in Spain by Skype or by calling his or her cell phone (students either bring their unlocked cell phone from the States or buy a cell phone once they’re here). In Spain cell phone customers are not charged for incoming calls, so it’s much cheaper for you to call your son/daughter than for him/her to call you. If you and your child have smart phones, you can chat and phone for free via “whatsapp.” You may also call your child on the host family’s landline. Remember that there is a six-hour time difference between Spain and Eastern Standard Time (7, 8 and 9 hours respectively in the other U.S. time zones). Please do not call the host family after 10pm or before 9am local time.

I understand that the drinking age in Spain is 18 and this concerns me.

Without doubt, the greatest threat to your child’s safety while abroad is the excessive use of alcohol. The program has your child sign an Alcohol Awareness Guidelines sheet at the beginning of the semester, and orientation includes clear directives about responsible drinking in Spain. Although your child is of age to consume alcohol in Spain, irresponsible drinking may result in a student being separated from the program.

You can help us provide the best care possible for your student by talking to your son or daughter about responsible and safe behavior while abroad, especially in terms of the use of alcohol and drugs. While we have guidelines, rules, regulations and policies that help us to keep our students safe, ultimately, students themselves are responsible for their safety and well-being while in Spain, just as they are on their home campuses. Please have a candid discussion with your student about respecting themselves and program guidelines in relation to alcohol and safety.

How much money will my child need to live in Spain?

In Madrid, students can live well and happily without a ton of money as the sidewalk café culture is relatively inexpensive and the program provides significant free access to cultural resources. We recommend that if possible, a student have 1000-1500€ available to cover extra expenses while they are here (mostly for travel).

How can I get money to my child in Spain?

The most convenient way for your son or daughter to get money in euros, if the bank fees are reasonable, is by withdrawing cash from an ATM here. For purchases, U.S. credit cards are accepted everywhere, but you should check on bank fees for international transactions. Students should not bring checks to Spain (travelers or personal). If your son or daughter needs money urgently and lacks other means, the program will be happy to make an emergency loan. Parents can also transfer money to their child's Sabadell bank account via international wire transfer.

Will my child receive training in Intercultural Competency?

Yes! Our program is a leader in Intercultural Education that begins in orientation and extends throughout the semester or year.

Can I follow program activities on social media?

Yes! Definitely! Our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds are very active, and populated by the program and also by our student social media team. Please follow us! You will be able to read about program activities and see photos of the students enjoying all kinds of new experiences. Additionally, we have a program Blog with exciting posts about activities, happenings in Spain, and upcoming events.