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Pre-departure Information







PASSPORTS & VISAS

You must have a valid passport to travel to Spain, and your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after the last day of the program.

You should consult the Spanish Consulate in San Francisco's webpage for up-to-date visa information and requirements. In general, if you are an American citizen AND:
  • the program in which you are participating is less than 90 days (during a 180 day period), you do not need a visa to study in Spain.

  • the program in which you are participating is longer than 90 days (during a 180 day period), you do need a student visa and should consult the Spanish Consulate in San Francisco's webpage for the application procedure.

**If you are not an American citizen, you should consult with the Consulate of your nationality and/or the Spanish Consulate in San Francisco to determine if a visa is required.**




CASH & FINANCES

The currency used in Spain is the Euro. The conversion rate between the Euro and the U.S. Dollar can change daily, so please consult an online currency converter, such as the Oanda Currency Converter, for the current exchange rate.


Spending Money
The amount of spending money required in León will vary from person to person and program to program, depending on travel plans, eating preferences, and other personal expenses. Make sure to ask the director of your program how many meals per day (if any) are included in the program fee, how many meals you will have to pay for out-of-pocket, and if there are any additional expenses not covered by the program fee.


Euros for Arrival
It may be helpful to have some Euros for your arrival, although ATMs can be found in most major airports in Spain and should allow you to withdraw Euros from your American bank account.


Credit Cards/Bank Cards
Credit and bank cards are used widely throughout Spain and are a convenient way to obtain local currency when traveling abroad. Using your credit or bank card will save you the time of waiting in lines at the bank or at a casa de cambio (exchange office), and the exchange rate is usually better than in banks or exchange offices. They can also because be replaced relatively easily if lost or stolen, and are accepted in most shops and Spanish ATMs.

Be sure to inform your bank and/or credit card company that you will be using your card in Spain, and confirm with them the following before you leave: international cash advance charges, your PIN numbers, and from which account your money will be drawn.


Financial Aid
Before you leave, make sure that you have finalized all financial aid paper work so that you do not run into financial difficulty once you are abroad. Bring with you the name and contact information of your Student Loan Officer, in case you need to contact him/her while in Spain.




HEALTH CARE

Health Insurance
Beginning January 1, 2011, all UW students participating in a departmental study abroad program are required to purchase the UW Study Abroad Insurance.

**Please be aware that if you receive medical attention while in Spain, you may be required to pay for the medical care upfront in cash and then send the receipt and claim form to the U.S. insurance company for reimbursement.**


Medications and Prescriptions
If you regularly take a prescription medicine, bring enough medication (in the original, labeled bottle) to last for the duration of the program. In addition, you should bring a copy of the written prescription in case it needs to be filled while you are in Spain. Other prescription items, such as glasses and contact lenses, should be brought from home and you should plan to bring an extra pair.

DO NOT MAIL MEDICATIONS, VITAMINS, OR COSMETICS! Packages arriving in Spain that contain medications, vitamins, and cosmetics are stopped at customs and, unless accompanied by a Spanish prescription, medications may be confiscated.




WHAT TO PACK

Be conservative with luggage - bring only what you are able to carry by yourself. Your bags should be lockable and your purse and camera bag should have adjustable shoulder straps.

Clothing
The weather in Leon is hot and dry in the summer, and cold in the winter (it is not unusual for it to snow during the winter months). Suggested clothing includes turtlenecks and sweaters (to layer), coat or jacket, lightweight raincoat and compact umbrella, walking shoes, sandals, one pair of dress shoes, pants and skirts, t-shirts, long shorts, bathing suit, bathrobe, and one formal outfit.

Electronics
The UWLC does not have computers available for student use. We recommend that you bring a laptop or tablet so that you can check your e-mail and do any homework that may need to be typed. If you bring smaller appliances such as hairdryers or electric shavers, be aware that the electric current in Spain is different than in the United States. Whereas most modern computers and tablets have a dual voltage converter and you will only need a plug adapter to use to be able to use them in Spain (this can be bought in the U.S. or in a ferretería in Spain for about 1€), smaller appliances often require a voltage converter in order to work properly (the voltage in Spain is 220).




LAUNDRY

Laundry facilities vary depending on your housing arrangements while in León. If live with a host family, your family will wash your clothes for you. If you live in an apartment, there will most likely be a washing machine in the residence. If you live in a university residence hall, you will need to pay to have your clothes washed in a nearby laundromat.




ACCESS TO INTERNET

The UWLC has high-speed wi-fi that you will be able to access from your laptop, tablet, or smartphone while your program director or the On-site Coordinator is at the Center. If you are living with a host family or in a university residence hall, you will also have wi-fi at home. Those students living in apartments will not have access to wi-fi at home, but there is free wi-fi available at many cafés and restaurants in Leon, as well as internet cafés throughout the city. It may also be possible to purchase a portable USB modem from a local cell phone company that will allow you to access the internet from anywhere in Spain.




CELL PHONES

Using your American cell phone in Spain is extremely expensive. We recommend that you either bring an American cell phone that is not locked to a certain company and buy a Spanish SIM card, or that you buy a cheap phone once you get to Spain. SIM cards usually cost around 9€ and come with 3€ of credit, whereas a cheap phone will cost between 30-50€. You may want to agree on which cell phone company you will use as a group, as it will make communication between you cheaper. Please be aware that when you buy a SIM card or cell phone in Spain, you will be required to show your passport.

In Spain, you only pay for outgoing texts and phone calls--any phone calls and texts you receive are free.




GETTING TO LEON

Although Leon does have an airport, the most common, and often cheapest, way to get to Leon is to fly to Madrid and then take a bus or train to Leon. You can expect to pay between 25-50€ to get from Madrid to Leon, depending on the time of day you travel and the mode of transportation you choose. If you will be arriving in Madrid the same day you plan to go to Leon, there is a bus that leaves from Terminal 4 at the Madrid Barajas airport and goes directly to Leon.

For more information about the train schedule, visit Renfe's website.
For more information about the bus schedule, visit Alsa's website.




STUDENT FUNDING FOR STUDY ABROAD

Benjamin Gilman Scholarship for Undergraduate Study Abroad
The Benjamin A Gilman Scholarship offers awards for undergraduate study abroad and is open to U.S. undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university to participate in study abroad programs worldwide. The program aims to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go by supporting undergraduates who might otherwise not participate due to financial constraints.

Fritz Scholarship (UW)
This competitive scholarship helps University of Washington undergraduate students with majors in the Social Studies or Humanities access international learning opportunities.

Global Opportunities (GO!) Scholarship (UW)
The Global Opportunities (GO!) scholarship is funded by the Washington State Legislature. This competitive scholarship helps academically promising undergraduate students with significant financial need access international learning opportunities.

Plan2GO Exchange Scholarship (UW)
The Plan2Go is an opportunity for University of Washington undergraduate students who are committed to studying abroad on an exchange program. Students awarded a Plan2GO will have up to 3 years to use their scholarship toward a qualified university exchange program.

WAFLT Student Excel Scholarships
The Washington Association for Language Teaching offers up to six $500.00 scholarships each year to Washington residents taking advanced world language courses at the university level. The award is merit based rather than need based.

**For additional funding opportunities, please visit the Study Abroad Office's Scholarships webpage.**