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

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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.

Hello, I'm shipping my daughter's suitcase (to arrive on/after Sept 5), as she is doing some backpacking before the fall semester starts. I'd like to send it directly to her residence (El Faro, Plaza de Cristo Rey, 7) instead of the address provided in FAQs (Fuencarral nº 123,  3º0). Is this possible? not sure if there's someone to receive package at El Faro. Many thanks, Lauren Hearne student: Margot Hearne/Smith College

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What are the start and end dates for tufts in madrid spring 2023. Do you help coordinate air travel? Thanks

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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.

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). Mainland Spain is GMT +2 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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 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

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).

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.

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.

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.

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, and Skidmore students, along with students who apply through Skidmore, are covered for all medical costs including mental health and repatriation through ON CALL INTERNATIONAL.

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

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