As you are trying to decide which program is best for you, don't forget to consider these things:
Find out if your home institution will give you credit. Make an appointment with your advisor and discuss your plans. Depending of your major, advisors may be able to give you a "pre-approved" course list or direct you online to see classes that students have taken for credit in the past. If you decide to do a program run by a different university than your own, your school may need you to do something extra to get credit. And even if you do get credit, your classes may not fulfill your requirements for your major or minor. Find out before you leave!
Find out if your universities has a program, member of APUNE, in Spain. Being an APUNE members guarantees that your credits will be recognized:
- Member Programs by alphabetical order
- Member Programs by cities
- List of U.S. Universities with APUNE programs
Take care of financial aid. Find out whether your home institution will support you even if you are not in a program they run. Ask your study abroad office for information on scholarships and grants that are available. You may be able to find some just for students studying in Spain. Research what aid is out there at least six months before you plan to go abroad.
Once you have been accepted by a program and are making travel plans, it's very important that you complete the following:
- Make sure your passport is valid- You must have a passport to enter Spain that will be valid for at least six months after you arrive. If you need to renew your passport or get one, expect the process to take up to a few months.
- Passport Agencies
- Find out if you need a visa- A student visa is mandatory for any U.S. citizen wishing to study in Spain for three months or longer. To get one you need to apply at the Spanish Consulate that corresponds to the state where you live. You must obtain one before you leave the United States because visas cannot be obtained in Spain, and they cannot be sent to you. You cannot apply more than 90 days or fewer than 15 days before you leave. You will need a valid passport to apply for a visa. The visa process can be long and tedious, so it is recommended to begin working on it as soon as possible. Make sure to locate directions on exactly what you will need to do to obtain a visa: this will include such things as clearing police records, acquiring bank statements, and going to notaries. Again, allot as much time for this as possible.
- Talk to your program about any special needs you have- If you have any physical needs, medical needs, or learning disabilities, make sure that your program finds out about them, especially if you will be living with a host family. Do not expect resources to be as available in Spain. Be willing to work with your program so that you can be accommodated.
- If you have any food allergies, require kosher food, or have other dietary needs, these also need to be communicated to your program. If you are a vegetarian, be clear about exactly what you will and will not eat. For example, if you tell someone in Spain that you do not eat meat, they will think that you do not eat beef, but that you do eat chicken and seafood. For example, tuna fish will often appear in salads even if there is no mention of it on the menu.
- Check your insurance-Though there are more exciting things to think about than whether your insurance will cover you while you are in Spain, a lack of proper coverage can cause serious problems during your stay abroad. It is very important that you check that your insurance will take care of you, not only in Spain but in other places that you plan to visit. You should have an insurance plan with an annual deductible of $250 or less for all covered expenses, at least 80% coverage (after the deductible is met) of at least $50,000, and a coverage period that extends from the start to the end of your program. It should also include medical evacuation and repatriation costs. Find out how to use your insurance while abroad, such as how to make a claim. Lack insurance? Your program will require that you get some. Remember that it is always better to have insurance and never use it than to have none and need it.