AIFS Partnership Programs: Faculty-Led Study Abroad Programs

Northern California Study Abroad Consortium

Northern California Study Abroad Consortium
not your school?

Barcelona, Spain

Fall 2019

Frequently Asked Questions

Transportation
Housing
Culture
Money
Communication
General


Transportation

Do I have to take the AIFS flight?
No. However, bear in mind that if you purchase the AIFS transportation package, the transatlantic flight will be provided with round-trip airport transfers in Barcelona. You will be met at the airport on arrival and taken to your residence. At the end of the program if you leave on the group flight on the group departure date, you will be picked up from your residence and taken to the airport.

Can I change my return flight once I am in Barcelona?
Maybe. For a fee and subject to airline approval and availability, you may try to change your return flight. You must contact the agent directly. Only date changes are allowed; there can be no changes to the routing, and there will be an airline-imposed fee which could be as high as $350. If you have a connecting flight in the US, you must check whether you are able to change that, as some cannot be changed. Please note that once you receive your ticket, it is your property and therefore AIFS staff cannot make the changes for you.


Housing

Where will I live?
You will live in an apartment with other AIFS students. Apartments will mainly be either two-bedroomed for four students or three-bedroomed for six students. For an additional fee ($750), you can choose to live with a homestay family. Students in a homestay receive breakfast and dinner Monday-Friday, and breakfast at weekends. A weekly laundry service is also included.

Can I have a single room?
We have limited availability on single rooms and they can only be guaranteed upon payment of a supplement. Contact the Connecticut office with individual requests which will be dealt with on a first-come, first-served basis.

Can I move into my accommodations before the program starts if I am arriving in Barcelona early?
AIFS cannot supply you with accommodation until the official start date of the program. However, if you arrive early we can recommend local hotels and hostels.

Can I choose my own roommate?
Yes. Simply include the name of the person on your AIFS program application, and make sure your friend does the same. If you decide to room with someone after your application has been submitted, email the AIFS Connecticut office stating your roommate choice. Be sure your roommate does the same.

How is my roommate chosen?
We allocate roommates based on the information provided on the AIFS program application completed by every student. First we look to see if a student has requested a particular roommate and if they have, we house them with that person. We then put students with similar routines together, similar likes and dislikes, hobbies, etc., taking care not to room smokers and non-smokers together. Students should always fill out the housing section of the application honestly and with as much information as possible.

When will I find out who my roommate is?
Rooming assignments will be handed out upon arrival in Barcelona.

How many people are there per room?
In the apartments there will be two students per bedroom, with either two or three bedrooms per apartment. Single rooms are very rare in apartments but can occasionally be found. Again students should request these in advance and be prepared to pay a supplement.

Are the rooms/apartments coed?
No, apartments are all same sex.

What is provided in apartments?
No towels are provided but you do receive bed linen and a spare change of linen. Kitchen facilities include stove, storage, refrigerators, pans and dishes. Apartments will have washing machines, but no dryers. There are no landline phones in the apartments, but you will have WiFi.

How far is the housing from school?
The apartments are located approximately 30 minutes commute (either on foot or by public transport) from the study center. A travel pass will be provided to each student for the duration of the program.

What are the meal arrangements?
There are kitchens in the apartments, but no meals are supplied. AIFS staff will point out all local supermarkets and markets during orientation. Students selecting the homestay option will receive daily breakfast and five dinners a week. All students are invited to a welcome tapas reception and a farewell dinner.

What are the apartment restrictions?
No non-program participants are allowed in the apartments, and no overnight guests are to stay at all. This is for the safety and security of all residents. Legal quiet hours in Spain are 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Noise travels fast in apartment buildings – if you break these rules, you will not have an AIFS staff member there to tell you. Instead, it may well be the police you end up talking to after your neighbors have called them.

Can I choose to make my own living arrangements instead of living in AIFS accommodations?
This is possible only if you have close friends or relatives living in Barcelona. There is a reduced fee for arranging your own housing, but the money saved will not be adequate to pay for housing you would find on your own in the short-term rental market. You can only select this option if you get authorization from your college. You must also notify AIFS on your program application that you do not require housing and provide a contact address in Barcelona to enable us to reach you in an emergency.


Culture

What events will be on the cultural calendar?
There will be a large variety of events arranged which make the most of what Barcelona has to offer. Recent events include guided walking tours, local sporting events, visits to museums, cooking classes and flamenco performances.

Are these events good value for the money?
Yes. They are deeply subsidized by AIFS. The original price is lower than you could find on your own as AIFS is able to get group discounts through our contacts in Barcelona.

Will there be trips?
Yes, a full-day excursion to Girona and Figueres, to visit the Dali museum is included. We will also be offering other day trips and weekend excursions that you can sign up for once you are in Barcelona.


Money

How much money will I need?
This very much depends on individual tastes. However, AIFS recommends that students budget $700-$1000 per month for day-to-day needs. This would allow for some cultural activities and excursions but not extensive overseas travel or expensive purchases.

How can I get money in Barcelona?
Before departure, make sure you get PIN numbers for credit cards (Visa and MasterCard, not American Express). If you do not already have a credit card, we suggest you get one before you leave.

For checking accounts, try and get the CIRRUS or STAR system on your card. You can ask your bank for a list of banks which will accept your cards. Do not take their word that it will be accepted everywhere—this is often not the case. Also double-check what their charges are for withdrawing cash abroad. It is a good idea to have internet banking set up before you leave the US. This makes checking your account regularly and transferring money between accounts much easier.

Paper travelers’ checks are now a thing of the past.  Instead, you will find an alternative in the form of pre-paid cards such as Visa Travel Money or Cash Passport that you preload then reload as necessary.  They work like regular debit/credit cards in that you need a PIN, and they can be obtained in the U.S. before departure.  They are a secure way of accessing money overseas, and in the event the prepaid card is lost or stolen, it can be replaced quickly, wherever you are.  However, like normal debit and credit cards, you may still be charged a commission to withdraw money, so check with your bank regarding any such fees.

If you run short of money or in the unfortunate event you have your wallet stolen, AIFS on-site staff can give you details of how to have money wired to you in an emergency situation from friends and family.


Communication

Will I have internet/wifi access?
Wireless Internet access is available at the study center in Barcelona, and in your program accommodation. Many cafes and libraries also have free wifi. Speeds may not be what you are used to in the U.S., but you can get connected almost anywhere in the city.

How can people contact me when I am in Barcelona?
Once your application has been approved, you will have access to the AIFS student portal, where you will find details about your program, including your mailing address. You can receive all your mail and packages at that address. You will have wifi in your apartments, so will be able to use Skype, facetime etc to keep in touch with home.  You can buy a sim card and/or basic cell phone for local calls and data as they are relatively inexpensive in Spain. With a Spanish Sim, you do not pay anything to receive calls. Details of local prices and stores will be available on arrival.


General

Do I need a passport?
You will need a valid passport to travel abroad. If you have a passport that will expire during your program or within four months after the end of your program, renew it now. You will not be able to board your flight without a valid passport in hand.

If you are applying for your first passport, go to http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/get/first/first_830.html.
If you need to renew your passport, go to http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/get/renew/renew_833.html.

To obtain a passport you will need:
    I. Passport Application Form DS-11
    II. Proof of Citizenship
    III. Present Identification and Photocopy
    IV. Application Fee
    V. Two Passport Photos

The automated appointment number for all passport agencies is (877) 487-2778. For general passport information, you may dial the Federal Information Center at (800) 688-9889, or visit their website at www.travel.state.gov.

Do I need a visa?
If you are a US Citizen staying less than 90 days in Europe, no. If you plan on staying longer, you should get a long stay tourist visa before coming (this can be a long process and should be started as soon as your application is approved). If you are not a US citizen, please talk to the nearest embassy or consulate for requirements. Do not forget to obtain visas for other countries you may wish to visit. It is not possible to do this once you are in Spain.

What should I take with me?
Not too much! On every program students find that they bring clothing that they never wear and toiletries that they could have easily bought in Barcelona. If you are on medication, you should bring enough to last you for the program as well as a copy of the prescription in case you need a refill. The weather can be unpredictable so bring warm clothes. It is best to bring clothes that you can layer to be appropriate for all kinds of weather. You should also bring a weatherproof coat. You will do a lot more walking than you are used to, so bring comfortable shoes. You will not need much "dressy" clothing, but it is good to bring an outfit or two that you can wear to group dinners and theater trips. Spaniards are fashion conscious and generally very stylish, and you will find that you purchase some clothing while you are in Barcelona. Remember to leave space in your suitcase for souvenirs you will buy.

What happens if I get ill abroad?
There is a walk-in clinic nearby to the school that we use regularly. AIFS staff will accompany you and offer translation if required. You will have to pay for everything up front including the doctor's visit and medication, and then you may make a claim on your AIFS medical insurance. For this you must make sure you have filled in all the medical forms correctly and have all receipts. You will receive a refund back in the US for all costs exceeding $50.. Please read the insurance brochure for conditions that may be excluded or have limited coverage.

Will my hairdryer/iron work in Barcelona?
No, leave them at home! Appliances designed to operate in the US may not operate in Barcelona unless they are fitted with a dual voltage switch or used with a transformer, and even then they still might not work! To save space and broken appliances, plan on purchasing an inexpensive hairdryer and flat iron upon arrival (approximately $25 each). You can share the cost with your roommate(s).

Can I buy textbooks and course-related materials in Barcelona?
You can buy paper and other materials in Barcelona. Barcelona has a few English language bookstores, but it is advisable to purchase textbooks ahead of time. Your professors will be able to let you know where they have been ordered, and will usually try to select travel-friendly versions. If you are ordering books online you may have them sent to the study center ahead of you- just let us know to expect them.  

What sports facilities are available?
Barcelona has gyms all over town, swimming pools and sports fields in parks. Memberships may be higher than you are used to, as you’re only in town for a short while and can’t commit to a yearly plan.   There are plenty of running routes if you don’t want to pay.

Can I work when I am in Barcelona?
It is illegal to work in Spain unless you have a work permit. If you do want to stay and work after the program, you will need to apply for a work permit before you leave the US. It cannot be done once you are in Spain.