FAQs: Parents & Family

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. Whether your child chooses to study and live in Madrid or in nearby Alcalá de Henares, you can rest assured that the Tufts-Skidmore 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

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 psychological 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. Some parents prefer to send prescription drugs through the mail, but if you are planning to do so we suggest that you contact us first for instructions.

What’s the best way for my child to get money while in Spain?

If the fees are reasonable, withdrawing cash from an ATM machine is the most convenient way to get money in euros. For purchases, U.S. credit cards are accepted everywhere. If your son or daughter needs money urgently and lacks other means, parents can wire money through U.S. Western Union (800.325.6000), which will be disbursed in euros through "Ultramar" in Spain (Change Express 91.531.64.96 in Madrid). The fee will vary according to the wire amount. The program will of course lend your child money if need be.

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. However, we strongly recommend that students take only short trips on the weekends and that they avoid travel outside the country while classes are in session. Frequent international trips on the weekends can cause considerable disruption in students’ adaptation/integration process and can negatively affect academic and social performance.

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

We conduct a 2-week orientation session that begins immediately upon students’ arrival. We stay at a hotel and have two days of group-building activities coupled with orientation sessions on safety and intercultural issues. Students will be placed with their host families at the end of our second day. Orientation will continue in Alcalá and in Madrid for the following two weeks, and activities will be a mix of social events, cultural excursions, academic lectures by professors from the University of Alcalá, conversation classes, 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-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).

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. 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/Acalá). 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. We recommend that students buy a pre-paid cell phone with a rechargeable card.

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. 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.

What are the Madrid & Alcalá program office hours and the contact numbers?

What are the Madrid & Alcalá program office hours and the contact numbers?

Madrid MONTE ESQUINZA Program Center

M-Th    10h-19h

F          10h-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

Director, Susan Sánchez Casal (690 625 612)

Asst. Director in Alcalá, Miguel Ángel Lera (622 867 457)

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.

I am concerned about my child’s safety. Are Madrid and Alcalá “safe” cities?

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 very 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 ADESLAS. All care, emergency, hospitalization and out-patient is covered 100% by the policy. Students will have to pay for medications. Additionally, all students are covered for repatriation by SOS International. 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 worked out ahead of time.

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, Valencia, La Granja.

What economic resources does the Program provide for students?


-City trains, buses, subway


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


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


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


–Reimbursement for museums, Spanish/Latin American movies, plays, 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 does not have a laptop computer. Will he or she have internet access at the program center?

Both the Madrid “Monte Esquinza” program center and the Alcalá “María de Guzmán” program center have internet and wifi and are equipped with iMacs, printers and scanners for student use. Host families also have wifi.

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

You can use the Program address in Madrid to send letters or packages at the beginning of the semester (until you receive the host family’s address). If you list a value of over 20€, your package will be stopped by customs and may not make it to your child, so keep that in mind. 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.

Tufts-Skidmore in Spain


C/ Monte Esquinza 14


28010, MADRID


t: +34 91 702 4513


  Facultad de Filosofía y Letras UAH

  Aulario María de Guzmán

  C/ San Cirilo, s/n, 28804, Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) Spain

  t: +34.91.885 24 05

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

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

c/ Monte Esquinza 4, 2º dcha.
28010, Madrid
011 34 702 4513 (tel)

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 most important parts of their experience. All of our host families are thoroughly vetted and most have been with the program for years. They are all 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.

My daughter is going to Spain to study at Acala 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 at susan@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 Spanish pre-paid 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 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 irresponsible 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. In spite of the younger drinking age, 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?

Our program has two centers, one in Madrid and one in the nearby city of Alcalá de Henares. Madrid is more expensive than Alcalá, but in both cities 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.

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, parents can wire money through U.S. Western Union (800.325.6000), which will be disbursed in euros (Change Express 91.531.64.96 in Madrid). The fee will vary according to the wire amount. In the event of emergencies, the program will be glad to lend your child money.

Will my child receive training in Intercultural Competency?

Yes! The program offers weekly education and training on Intercultural Competency Development, awarding students a certificate of completion at the end of the semester (students complete a 10 hour program).

Can I follow program activities on social media?

Yes! Definitely! We constantly update our Facebook and Twitter feeds. 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.