Frequently Asked Questions
Not updated for 2014
What is the electrical current?
220 volts (50 cycles) is commonly used in Spain. Round-prong plugs are used in all outlets. Standard American plugs will not fit into Spanish outlets. We recommend that you purchase outlets in Spain to make sure they work. Outlets are available at any "Corte Inglés."
In an emergency, what are the procedures?
If you have an emergency while in Europe, contact your school representative. If he/she is not available or you are traveling on your own, ask the FRONT DESK at the hotel or dorm to contact the Forspro representative. The Forspro contact numbers in case of emergencies are listed on our Final Instructions newsletter. For the emergency services in any EU country, dial 112.
How much $ to take?
Amount of money to take for out-of-pocket expenses depends on each individual; however, an adequate amount is $175 to $200 per week. This amount, of course, does not take into account purchases and optional tours. As a rule of thumb, budget the same as you would while vacationing in the U.S. - however, it all depends on you.
What is the best way to call home?
There are a number of options open to you for making international calls in Spain. Below are some of them. We do not endorse nor do we have experience with all the sources listed below. We are only providing information regarding ways in which to communicate with friends and family at home.
- By Telephone:
- Phone shop/Internet café.
- Buying a phone card
- Buying a phone in Spain.
- By Internet.
- The traditional email
- Voice conversations through Skype or Magic Jack.
What about laundry?
In Madrid the Colegio Mayor Mara has coin operated washing machine and dryer available 24hrs.
What do I need for my prescription drugs?
If you have any special health problems, have your doctor prepare your medical history and take it with you to Spain. Carry prescription duplicates since brand names are different in Spain. Ask your doctor for the generic drug name of your prescription. Also, carry a prescription for your eyeglasses. No inoculations are required when entering or leaving Spain.
What is the best way to exchange money?
Many of the European nations, including Spain and France have as
their national currency the Euro. The Euro currently is approximately
1.24 (as of 8/15/12) dollars. This rate may vary from week to week. You
should generally avoid changing currency in popular tourist
destinations, such as airports, train stations, and hotels, because they
do not offer the best exchange rates. Instead, favor local banks. Banks
are open from 9:00 to 14:00 weekdays and from 9:00 to 13:00 on
Saturdays. In order to change money at a bank you need your passport.
However, the best method is to use ATM cards for cash. By using an ATM
you're basically cashing in on the fact that your bank is trading
currencies in larger amounts. “That makes ATM exchanges some of the best
rates you can get.
If you want to use your credit cards/check card you will find a complete network of cash points at your disposal; most shops also take credit cards. We recommend to use a credit card to charge most purchases. Credit cards not only provide a chargeback provision but they offer the best exchange rate. Just beware of fees. Also, make sure you check with your bank that your cards can be used in foreign ATMs. Do NOT assume they can be - check, check, check. Bring a back up card in the event your card is lost. Make sure you know what number to call to report a lost or stolen card.
Finally, you also must alert your bank (and credit card companies) that you are traveling abroad. When they notice what is deemed suspicious activity — transactions in international places — they sometimes freeze your money. That would quickly put a damper on your vacation.
How to Pack?
You do not need to bring towels, sheets, or pillows. The dorm/hotel provides your bedding needs and towels. Follow the luggage limits of the airline and pack according to the limit of one suitcase and a carry-on. We offer the following packing suggestions:
- Coordinate your wardrobe around a single color.
- Safety begins when you pack. To avoid being a target, dress conservatively. A flashy wardrobe can mark you as a tourist.
- Pack comfortable shoes, casual clothing, a sweater, a wash-cloth, a swimsuit, and an alarm clock.
- Dress the same as you do at your home institution.
- Don't pack anything fragile or valuable - if you do not bring them, they cannot be lost or stolen.
- Pack in your carry-on toiletries and at least one change of clothing in the event your bag is delayed or lost.
- Carry with you to Spain copies of important documents such as your credit card and passport.
- Travel light.
For additional tips on how to pack your suitcase, below are links to
sites with suggestions on how/what to pack.
What about Passport/Visa?
No visa is required for U.S. passport holders for a stay of up to 3 months. For stays exceeding three months, please contact the Consulates of Spain and France nearest you. If you are not a U.S. Passport holder, contact the Consulates regarding visa requirements. The telephone numbers of some of the Consulates of Spain and France in the U.S. are as follows:
Chicago: (312) 782-4588
Los Angeles: (323) 938-0158
Miami: (305) 446-5511
New York: (212) 355-4080
Chicago: (312) 787-5359
Los Angeles: (310) 235-3200
Washington: (202) 944-6000
New York: (212) 606-3688
After 9/11, security procedures will not allow anyone to board a
flight to the U.S. without a valid passport. Therefore, in the unlikely
event your passport is lost or stolen prior to your return flight to
Spain (summer program group departures) and there is not sufficient time
to have another one issued, our procedure is as follows: Our
representative will stay for a maximum of 1 day after the last scheduled
group has departed to help you with your passport and your airline
ticket. You will probably incur substantial charges and will probably
have to purchase a one way ticket since your ticket would have expired.
We will try to help you with the airline to minimize your expenses. You
will be responsible for your personal expenses after the program ends.
If you are under 18, our representative will contact your
guardian/parents to let them know the status of your passport and
We also recommend that you visit the website of the The U.S. State Department at http://www.travel.state.gov/. In addition to passport/visa information, is an incredibly valuable source of information for anyone who is planning to travel abroad.
I am a vegetarian. What should I expect ?
The diet is based on meat and fish. Vegetables and fruits are available; however, the variety is limited. Salad is commonly comprised of lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. Salad dressing is oil and vinegar. If you are a vegetarian, we will make an effort to meet your needs. However, please note that you will be limited with the variety of foods available. Spain is not a vegetarian country.
What are the rules for Visitors and Guests?
Due to security reasons, insurance requirements, and your safety and the safety of others around you, FORSPRO has the following policies regarding visitors and guests.
Non-participant family members (limited to parents / spouses / siblings/) may visit you for brief periods but will not be allowed to stay in Forspro arranged student housing. You are reminded that FORSPRO cannot provide any administrative support (transportation, housing, childcare, etc) or assume any responsibility for non-participant family members. Such accompanying non-participant family members are not part of the program and therefore cannot attend classes, field trips, or any other activities formally associated with the program. If such individuals become disruptive to the program, it may be grounds for your dismissal.
Other non-participant visitors and guests may visit you during your
stay abroad but are not allowed to participate in any activity formally
associated with the program. Under no circumstance is a non-participant
allowed to take a non-family member (as described above) inside the
sleeping quarters of the residence. Such visitors cannot stay in program
arranged housing. Violators are subject to disciplinary action or
o If you intend to have a spouse visit you while you are in the program, contact Forspro prior to departure to make the arrangements. Your spouse must adhere to Forspro's rules and regulations. If your spouse is making his/her own arrangements, he/she is considered a non-participant family member.