A Letter to Parents

Full Year 2019-20; Fall 2019

Dear Parents & Guardians,  

My Madrid-based team and I are delighted to have your student with us during academic year 2019-20. We are committed to supporting your child in having a safe and transformative experience in Spain.

The information provided on this page is designed to inform you about your child’s upcoming experience studying and living in Madrid. For more detailed information, please consult the 2019-20 Student Handbook

I suggest that you read the Handbook thoroughly and contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

HOME STAY INFORMATION: As you know, your child will be living in a homestay. All of our hosts are thoroughly vetted and most have been with the program for many years. They are all dedicated to the health and wellbeing of your child. All host families participate in health and wellness training sessions in order to ensure that they know how to best support your child, in addition to intercultural and anti-oppression training. We will send detailed information about the host family selected for your child about one month prior to his/her arrival (over email), including the family’s address, email and contact phone numbers. We use the extensive information given to us by your student in our Housing Survey and the information that I gather in my on-campus interviews to match students with homestay hosts. In the event that your student feels uncomfortable in her/his homestay placement, s/he will be offered the option to change.

TELEPHONE and INTERNET ACCESS: Students have ample access to Internet and WiFi: at their host family home, at the Tufts-Skidmore Campus Center in Madrid and at the Spanish University. It will be easy for you to stay in contact with your child through Skype, FaceTime or by cell phone (students can either bring their cell phone from the states or buy a Spanish pre-paid cell phone once they’re here). Please note that Spain cellphone customers are not charged for incoming calls. If you and your child have smart phones, you can message for free via the application “WhatsApp.” You may also call your child on the host family’s landline (but no later than 10pm local time, please). 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). 

VISITING YOUR CHILD IN SPAIN: If you are able to visit your child during their semester or year in Spain, we suggest that you plan your trip for the end of the semester, when your child will be adjusted to living and studying in Spain, or during academic breaks, when your child will be able to fully enjoy the visit. Visits at the beginning of the semester or during the regular academic session, especially during final exams, are not encouraged because they can be stressful for your student.

SAFETY: Students receive safety training from the program and the US Embassy during orientation. Spain has a relatively 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). It is nearly impossible for a regular citizen to acquire a firearm here. However, non-violent petty theft can be an issue in Madrid (most thefts involve iPhones and laptops), 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. Sexual assault occurs in Spain, and 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 lower than in cities of comparable size in the U.S. 

Students receive all pertinent information about safety and security in Spain and Europe, issued by International SOS and the US Embassy in Madrid. We have a detailed emergency protocol that would be activated in the case of a local or national emergency. We require students to submit a travel disclosure form whenever they travel outside of Madrid, which allows us to easily identify the location of all of our students should an emergency occur. Our students are registered with the US Embassy in Madrid before they arrive, and we encourage them to enroll in the US Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) each time they leave Spain, so that the US Embassy in the country they are visiting will be aware of their presence. 

ALCOHOL & DRUG GUIDELINES: Statistically speaking, the greatest potential threat to your child’s safety abroad is related to the excessive use of alcohol, which is implicated in over 90% of injuries suffered by students while abroad. 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 program guidelines in relation to alcohol and safety. Infractions of the alcohol and drug guidelines may result in a student being separated from the program, as we have a zero-tolerance protocol for these types of infractions. Our mandate is to do our best to return your child to you safe and sound at the end of their time abroad, and if this means returning them before the semester or year is over, then that is what we will do.

HEALTH: At this time, there are no health issues particular to Spain. All program students are covered by a medical insurance policy with a Spanish health care provider (ADESLAS). Both routine and emergency medical treatment is fully covered under the policy (no co-pays), as is hospitalization. There are no exclusions for pre-existing conditions, and English-speaking physicians are available. Additionally, Tufts students and students who are admitted through Tufts are covered by the international medical provider ISOS, and can arrange direct pay for medical or mental health services through them. Skidmore students and students who are admitted through Skidmore are covered by the international medical provider OnCall, and can arrange direct pay for medical or mental health services through them.

If your child is currently taking prescription medicine and will need to continue while in Spain, please contact the Program Director.

MONEY: Your student will have a bank account opened with Sabadell Bank, and a Visa credit/debit card associated with that account. Parents may wire money to their student’s account, although international wire transfer fees will apply.

Madrid is not an exceedingly expensive city and students can live well and happily here on a modest budget. The sidewalk café culture is relatively inexpensive and the program provides significant free access to cultural and extracurricular resources. 

For purchases, U.S. credit cards are accepted everywhere, but you should check on bank fees for international transactions. In the event of emergencies, the program will be glad to lend your child money. At the time of this letter, the conversion from euro to dollar is 1 euro = 1.11 dollars. 

FINANCIAL RESOURCES PROVIDED BY PROGRAM:

  • meal stipend of 11€ a day (2 meals a day are provided by the host family; the daily stipend is provided to cover the meal not taken with the host family)
  • monthly transportation pass for unlimited access to the subway, bus system and local trains (20€ monthly value)
  • up to 300€ in reimbursements for activities that enhance student experience (non-required, e.g. gym, dance classes, yoga, ceramics, cooking classes, fine arts, dance, etc.) 
  • 170€ to help with travel costs in Spain (for cultural trips)
  • reimbursement for cultural activities approved by the program director (movies, plays, museums, art, dance and other cultural events)
  • Spanish medical insurance, full coverage, no co-pays, no pre-existing condition exclusion

MAILING ITEMS TO YOUR STUDENT: You may send packages to your student at any time to the Madrid Campus Center, or you may send them directly to the host family’s address. 

Student’s Name
Tufts-Skidmore Spain
C/ Fuencarral 123-3º
28010, Madrid
Spain
Tel: +34 91 702 4513

Be aware that packages listed as having a value superior to 30€ will incur customs taxes, even if the item is used or a gift. If you send a package to your student, you should list the contents as “used personal items,” to give yourself the best chance that it will not get held up in customs and assigned custom fees. We recommend that you do not send items directly from the manufacturer (or from amazon.com, etc.), since they will be subject to high custom fees and may cost your son/daughter more than what you paid for them. If you want to send a gift, we suggest that you use an online vendor who operates in the EU (amazon.uk, amazon.es, for example, Gap.eu, and so on). Items sent from countries within the European Union are not charged custom tax. Come October, shipping from the UK may incur custom fees.

ORIENTATION: We conduct a 10-day orientation session that begins immediately upon students’ arrival, and includes sessions on academic advising, Spanish language, homestays, intercultural adaptation, mindfulness while abroad, codes of conduct, student safety and security. Additionally, orientation includes on-site orientations at the universities, walking tours of Madrid, social events with Spanish students, and cultural excursions. 

ACADEMIC & PROGRAM SCHEDULES: Fall semester runs from early September to the third week in December. Spring semester runs from mid January to mid May. A full program calendar is provided in the Student Handbook

If you come to Madrid to visit during your child, I extend a cordial invitation to you and your family to stop by our Campus Center in Madrid to meet me and the staff.

Please feel free to contact us at any time with any questions you might have. The Program office will be closed from August 3 through September 1, but I will be available over email much of that time and will be glad to respond to any queries you or your student may have.

Warm wishes,

Dr. Susan Sánchez Casal, Director