Students and their families often have a lot of questions before studying abroad or applying to a program. To help you understand the application process and help you prepare for a sojourn overseas, we have put together some guides of some of the most Frequently Asked Questions that we hear from students and their families.

 

Prospective Students

General information for prospective students about Spanish Studies Abroad and studying abroad. Program dates and application deadlines, funding and who can apply.

Spanish Studies Abroad is an educational organization dedicated to promoting in-depth understanding of Spanish-speaking countries for our students, through specifically designed and academically rigorous university-level study abroad and cultural travel programs. Spanish Studies Abroad has academic university-level programs

  • Seville, Spain
  • Alicante, Spain
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Córdoba, Argentina
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Havana, Cuba

For program and course information, click on “Our Programs” in the left menu and read about our programs by country or using the Program Finder.

At Spanish Studies Abroad, we anchor our programs in academic excellence and cultural authenticity, with a strong focus on Spanish-language acquisition. We offer two program models, designed to fit almost any student’s academic needs while studying abroad. In all our programs, we offer a broad curriculum over many disciplines. We also offer professional development courses in various fields including education, business, and health care..

Students who study abroad with Spanish Studies also benefit from a higher level of support throughout the study abroad process, including: application and pre-departure support, on-site Resident Directors and support staff, and individual assistance with academic, homestay, and cultural adjustment.

You can find the most up-to-date information on Spanish Studies Abroad program dates and application deadlines in the “Dates & Costs” tab for each program.

 

There are many scholarships and grants available to students who wish to study abroad. Check with your Study Abroad Office or your adviser to see what resources are available to you. All prospective students applying to a Spanish Studies program are eligible to apply for a Spanish Studies Merit-Based or Diversity Scholarship. Please see the Scholarships page in the How to Apply section for more information.

 
 

Our programs are designed for students who will apply the credit earned in Spain, Argentina, or Cuba towards a degree in an American or Canadian college or university. Short-term courses in Seville are especially open to a wide variety of students, and several summer courses can be applied towards graduate credit. Contact Spanish Studies Abroad at info[at]spanishstudies.org or 413-256-0011 if you have any questions about which program is right for you.

Yes. While our programs are generally designed for students who are currently enrolled in a college or university and are seeking to obtain undergraduate credit, high school students may also attend our programs, as long as they meet admission requirements/pre-requisites. A student should be at least 16 years of age to enroll in a Spanish Studies Abroad program independently. For more information, please see Academic Opportunities for High School Students.

In order to receive the stipulation “Graduate Credit” on the Spanish Studies transcript, students must be currently enrolled in a graduate program, which must approve the transfer of graduate credit. Students must complete all coursework at a distinguished level, and submit a research paper of 12-20 pages on a topic selected in consultation with the professor of the course. There is an additional fee of $60 per credit, to be paid to the U.S. office of Spanish Studies Abroad by the final payment deadline. The request for graduate credit must be received and approved in the U.S. office of Spanish Studies Abroad before the student attends the program. Graduate credit is available ONLY during our Seville Summer Program for specific courses annotated on the summer course list.

Yes. In addition to our broad curriculum, we have several Professional Development courses, which may be of special interest to professionals looking to develop their Spanish and intercultural skills. While our programs are generally designed for students who are currently enrolled in a college or university and are seeking to obtain undergraduate credit, non-students do attend our programs. For those who are not currently students, but wish to gain transferable credit for their studies abroad, the option to do so is available through one of our affiliated degree-granting institutions.

Yes. Spanish Studies Abroad will need to receive a copy of your high school transcript and AP Spanish scores (if applicable) in addition to the other required application documents. You will also need to find an academic contact who can assess your current Spanish language skills and complete the Spanish Language Evaluation Form for you . The combination of your goals essay, Spanish Language Evaluation, high school transcript, and AP Spanish scores will help Spanish Studies Abroad assess your current Spanish level.

In reflection of Spanish Studies’s dedication to academic excellence, we require that students have a minimum 3.0 GPA in Spanish coursework. Other pre-requisites (i.e previous coursework, required credits) differ according to each program and course level to which you are applying.

Yes. It is worth keeping in mind that other portions of the application are taken into consideration when reviewing an application for acceptance, so a Spanish GPA slightly below a 3.0 does not exclude you from consideration.

If you are concerned about your grades and/or GPA, it may be advisable to have a teacher write a specific recommendation regarding your academic promise. It is also helpful to send an email or include a paragraph in your Goals Essay with an explanation of your lower grades.

To travel abroad, you need a passport valid for six months after your program end date. If you do not have a valid passport, you must apply for one immediately. It can take up to eight weeks to receive your passport, so apply for it right away. If the start of your program is less than 90 days away, you will have to pay for expedited service.

If you are abroad for more than three months, you are REQUIRED by Spanish and Argentine law to obtain a student visa. Semester and Academic Year students are required to obtain a student visa; January and Summer Term students do not need a visa. Make sure that you follow the visa instructions from Spanish Studies Abroad and your local consulate carefully.

Yes. Spanish Studies Abroad offers a limited number of opportunities to undertake a combined internship and study program. This option provides you with an excellent opportunity to take advantage of your stay by accepting a unique learning challenge. You gain work experience and explore a particular field from the viewpoint of another culture. See Internships for details.

For Parents and Guardians

General information for parents and guardians about student safety, how to contact, and what to expect while their student is living abroad.

The security and well-being of our students has been of paramount concern throughout the 40 year history of Spanish Studies Abroad programs. We understand your concerns as parents and faculty about safety and communication when students are so far away. That is why Spanish Studies maintains a comprehensive set of Safety Guidelines to promote health and safety on all of our programs. Spanish Studies Abroad also arranges and requires health insurance in the host country for all participants to ensure they are adequately protected if medical needs arise.

An important part of the study abroad experience is to learn how to be independent, and students on Spanish Studies Abroad programs are expected to make good decisions to promote their own safety. At orientation, Resident Directors and staff review important safety tips with students to help guide students to make smart decisions while exploring their host city.

The Resident Director and support staff of each program monitors all aspects of students’ well-being throughout their stay abroad. All participants are made fully aware of the services Spanish Studies Abroad provides so that they know what to do in the event of a problem. Spanish Studies is also in regular communication with Spanish, Argentine, and Cuban civil authorities and with U.S. Embassy officials abroad. In the unlikely event of a severe emergency in the host city, appropriate steps will be taken to arranged the safe return home of all Spanish Studies Abroad students.

If your student encounters a serious problem while abroad, the first people he/she should contact are the members of the Spanish Studies Abroad staff in the host city. Spanish Studies personnel abroad are best-equipped to handle any major issue. If he/she does call home with a problem, parents should encourage him/her to get in touch with the Resident Director of their specific program for assistance. All students are provided with a 24-hour emergency number so that they can always contact a member of the staff in their host city.

Although everyone’s experience studying abroad is different, most students find that they face many challenges and rewards from studying abroad. Immersion into another culture requires students to step away from their comfort zones. Thus, there will most likely be days when your student will be “so happy to be living abroad” and other days when they will be unhappy or frustrated with the experience. This a normal reaction to culture shock and it often passes as students become accustomed to living in a new place. If you are concerned about your student, encourage them to talk to a Spanish Studies Abroad staff member or Resident Director. They have been trained to help students to get through this process.

Check out the Handbook for your student’s program and review the Resources sections in the left menu for cultural and practical information. (Handbooks are available by mail upon request.) Also, encourage your student to read their student handbook and do research on their host country before leaving. Learning about cultural norms before departure can help to ease the transition to a new place.

If you are sending any regular USPS mail to your student, you should send it to the local Spanish Studies Abroad Address. If there is an emergency, you can contact the appropriate Emergency Contact Number. In each program location, students have both email and internet access. Computer labs at the host universities and at the Center in Seville maintain regular computer lab hours.

When making telephone calls from the U.S. to your student’s host country, please bear in mind any time changes. Your student’s host family will have a home telephone. However, the home’s telephone is restricted to receiving calls of short duration. Placing calls from the home phone is not permitted unless absolutely necessary. Please do not call the student’s home before 10am and after 10pm (local time for your student).

Your student may opt to get a cell phone while abroad. If he/she is on a Spanish Studies Abroad Spain Program, he/she will have the option of leasing a cell phone through Spanish Studies. Under this plan it is free for your student to receive calls on his/her phone, while the student’s phone is in Spain. However, you would still be charged for making a phone call from the United States to Spain. You may want to look for calling cards or contact your telephone provider to find the most economical option.

Please note that international calls, including calls to the United States, can become expensive very quickly. It is often a good idea to talk to your student before they go abroad on limiting the amount of contact home. In addition to saving money, limiting the contact home will help him/her to spend more time experiencing his/her host country.

Parents can certainly visit their students while they are abroad, just as long as any visit does not interfere with the student’s class attendance and academics. Family members may visit their student independently, in which case they will be responsible for their own individual travel and accommodation arrangements. Please note that it is the policy at Spanish Studies Abroad that visiting friends and family members may not stay with the host family or at the student residence. Families are encouraged to communicate with their students to decide the best time to visit.

Again, while every student’s experience is different, most students find that they experience “reverse culture shock” when they return from their time abroad. After the initial euphoria of returning home, your student may experience feelings of frustration, anger, alienation, loneliness, disorientation, and helplessness and not understand exactly why. As with all transitions, your student will gradually readjust, often with a new understanding of the world and self. To help your student with this adjustment, learn more about reverse culture shock and encourage your student to find ways to integrate their experience into their life back home.

Financial Matters

Financial information about Spanish Studies Abroad. Funding, scholarships for students, how to pay and the refund policy.

There are many scholarships and grants available to students who wish to study abroad. Check with your Study Abroad Office or your advisor to research the resources available to you. All prospective students applying to a Spanish Studies program are eligible to apply for a Spanish Studies Abroad Merit-Based or Diversity scholarship. Please see our Scholarships page for more information.

No. The Spanish Studies deposit confirms your enrollment in Spanish Studies Abroad. If we do not receive a deposit, we cannot hold a space for you in our programs.

Yes. Please contact Spanish Studies Abroad as soon as possible to obtain the appropriate paperwork and instructions to defer your payment.

Spanish Studies Abroad accepts payments via check, money order, and/or credit card. To make a credit card payment, please visit the View/Pay Bill stage of your online account.

All checks and money orders should be made payable to “The Center for Cross-Cultural Study” or “CC-CS.”

Your Billing Statement will appear in the View/Pay Bill Stage of your online account if you are required to pay Spanish Studies Abroad directly for any portion of your program costs. The Billing Statement will clearly outline each program fee and the amount. If the View/Pay Bill stage contains only partial fees, or no fee information, please contact your home institution to coordinate payment.

Penalties for withdrawal from a Spanish Studies Abroad program are assessed based upon the length of time between notice of your withdrawal and the start of the program. The deposit is always non-refundable.

In addition to the deposit forfeiture, withdrawal from a Spanish Studies Abroad program incurs the following penalties:

    • 25% of program fee for withdrawals between final payment due date and 30 days prior to the start of the program.
    • 25% of the room and board fee and 100% of the tuition, study tours, general education, and orientation fees for withdrawals between 29 days prior to the start of the program and 1 day prior to program start.

There is no refund for any portion of the program on or after the program start date.

In the case of homestays, Spanish Studies Abroad may change unsatisfactory lodgings but will not refund any portion of room and board fees after a student’s arrival at a home. If the student finds his or her housing to be unsatisfactory, he or she should notify the program’s resident director or staff immediately.

Yes. Spanish Studies provides health insurance for all students as part of your program fees. This health insurance is mandatory for all students, whether you have insurance at home or not. Please see Health Insurance and Medical Care for more detailed information.

Pre-Departure

The post-acceptance process for students including VISA information, cell phone program and travel arrangements.

If you have been accepted by Spanish Studies Abroad, there are a number of matters that will need to be taken care of before you go on your program. In order confirm your enrollment in a Spanish Studies program, you will need to complete these tasks; many can be taken care of using your Online Account. You will also receive an acceptance packet via e-mail that will provide important information about preparing for your program.

 

All students studying with Spanish Studies Abroad have an online account. If you applied to Spanish Studies Abroad via online application, you did so through your online account. If you applied via paper application, an account was created for you. To access your account, enter your username and password, and then click the “Login” button in the top-right-hand corner of the web page. If you have forgotten your password, you may request a new one on the login page.

You will find specific instructions in your acceptance packet and in your online account, so make sure to go through this information carefully.

Visa requirements vary by program location and length. However, if you do need a visa it is imperative that you apply for the visa as soon as possible! See our visa page for more information.

For identification purposes, Spanish Studies Abroad requires that you email a clear and appropriate passport-sized headshot (175px X 175px or 2in.X 2in.) in JPG format to info[at]spanishstudies.org.

You can find the most up-to-date travel information for your program in your acceptance packet. The link to your packet is in your acceptance e-mail. You will need to enter your arrival information in your Online Account as part of the Post-Acceptance Process. Spanish Studies Abroad needs to know the exact time, date, airline name, and flight number of your arrival in your host city. Make sure to fill out the “Arrival Information” form in your Student Account or email your arrival information to info[at]spanishstudies.org..

All students participating in Spanish Studies Abroad programs in Spain have the option of leasing a cell phone. For more information, see Optional Cell Phone Information.

At this time, Spanish Studies Abroad does not offer a cell phone lease program for students studying in Argentina, Puerto Rico, or Cuba. If you wish to have a cell phone while in one of these locations, you will need to investigate independent options. Upon arrival to your program, our staff will be happy to provide you with some guidance on this matter.

Living Abroad

Information regarding living in your host country and your host family. Including internships, wireless information and student housing.

Although everyone’s experience studying abroad is different, most students find that they face many challenges and rewards from studying abroad. Read your Student Handbook to find detailed information on cultural shock, cultural norms, and practical tips and information.

Housing information is determined before the start of the program and is generally available about a week before the students leave for their program destination. All host families must first undergo an interview process with Spanish Studies Abroad staff before being selected to provide housing. Students fill out an evaluation at the end of each program which Spanish Studies staff takes into consideration during the next housing cycle.

Most detailed information on host families is kept at our Centers overseas and is not available to us here at the U.S. office. Therefore, the Spanish Studies staff at the office in Amherst, Massachusetts can only provide students with the names, addresses, and contact information of their host families. After receiving this information, students may feel free to contact their host families independently to introduce themselves and to obtain more details on where they will be living. To prepare for living in a host family, read the Homestay section of your Student Handbook.

While our Housing Coordinator tries to accommodate students’ requests, we cannot guarantee that all preferences will be met. On the Seville program, there are very few opportunities for students to be the only Spanish Studies student in a home, so these placements will be given on a first come first serve basis. Housing in the Seville student residences is on a space-available basis.

In the interest of meeting your goal of cultural immersion, it is the policy of Spanish Studies Abroad not to pair students from the same school in the same homestay during our semester and academic year programs. The Center encourages students to set aside American friendships temporarily, and develop a special relationship with Spanish friends, family and culture. If you indicated on your housing questionnaire that you would like to live near a friend, our Housing Coordinator will do what she can to place you accordingly.

It is always a friendly gesture to bring your host family a small gift. This does not have to be something fancy or expensive. Typically students bring a small gift which reminds them of home. It is up to the individual student to decide what is best to bring.

Internships are available while studying abroad in several different disciplines and are organized on a case-by-case basis. Students must first apply for an internship, using a separate internship application which includes references as well as an essay. The letters of reference and essay must be different from the materials provided in the student’s initial program application. If an internship application is approved, Spanish Studies staff then evaluates the needs and goals of the student and places them where they will be successful and gain experience in their field of choice.

If you own a laptop computer, you may wish to bring it with you overseas so that you can use it for your studies abroad just as you do at home. However, you will obviously want to take extra steps to protect you computer against theft or damage. Naturally, you should never leave a laptop unattended in a public location.

Wireless internet is available in select locations at each of the centers in Spain and Argentina where Spanish Studies currently maintains active programs;  in Cuba you will need to purchase Wi-Fi internet cards at about $2 for one hour. Staff in each site will be able to provide useful information regarding where wireless signals are most easily accessible.

Yes. As is probably the case in your home city, there are a variety of local community groups and organizations dealing with sports and music in each of the cities where Spanish Studies Abroad programs take place. If you are studying at a host university with Spanish Studies, you will have access to all of the resources available to students at the university.

Spanish Studies personnel abroad can provide a wealth of information regarding these possibilities and students are encouraged to discuss their interest with the staff upon their arrival to investigate further options. If you have questions about a specific type of sporting or music organization overseas, you may contact our U.S. office to see what information we are able to provide prior to your departure.

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