Advice Abroad

Safe habits

Unwise, illegal, and unsafe behaviors in the U.S. are considered exactly the same in Spain. It is worth noting that if you are the victim of such behaviors, you are not at fault. We encourage you to immediately seek safety and support. Syracuse Madrid staff are here to help, and you have options. That said, unfortunately the burden is ultimately on you to think and act preventatively. You can do so by adhering to the following advice:

  • Trust your instincts.
  • Use common sense.
  • Avoid walking alone at night.
  • Avoid getting inside a car with an unknown driver. Only take licensed taxis.
  • Avoid drinking to the point of losing control.
  • Don’t carry too much cash, and avoid wearing flashy jewelry.
  • Avoid having more than one credit or debit card in your wallet when out and about.
  • Carry a copy of your passport, and leave the original at home.
  • Go out in small groups, and make a plan for how you’ll watch out for each other before going out.
  • Stick to your plan, and don’t walk home alone.

Healthy habits

  • Avoid unnecessary stress triggers by following good healthy habits. Get enough sleep, keep a healthy diet, and make sure your daily intake of water is sufficient. Wash your hands often, and adjust your clothing choices to the local weather changes.
  • Sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, are among the most common infections worldwide. If you choose to be sexually active, make sure to consistently and correctly use condoms and/or other barriers to increase the chances that your sexual behavior doesn’t place you or others at risk.
  • Participate in local activities according to your personal interests.
  • Be wise about your drinking, and look out for each other. Check out Syracuse’s “Substance Use” page.
  • Be aware that not everything will be just like it is in the United States, and embrace the experience with an open mind.
  • A semester is enough time to participate in a myriad of activities, but plan your time well, and don’t overdo it either at the beginning or at the end.
  • Eat your three meals a day, and get enough rest!

Health issues living with a host family

Very often, students let us know how being looked after by their host families while they were sick made them feel better. We all need someone by our side when we’re feeling under the weather. Let us and your Spanish family know what’s going on. It’s important to stay in touch with your loved ones back at home, although we advise you to let us know of any issues right away so that we can get you the help you need.

Unwanted attention

Treatment of women in Spanish society may vary as a result of cultural differences. Once in Spain, you may notice that people are looking at you, or you may hear comments that you’re not used to. Although it may make you uncomfortable, try to stay calm and not engage the person whenever possible. When going out and socializing, you should also ignore those who are unexpectedly amorous, persistent requests to provide personal information, and manipulative characters refusing to accept “no” for an answer. For more information, resources, or support, please see the Student Life staff.

Pickpocket hot spots

Although Madrid is generally a safe city, certain types of incidents may occur, the most common of which is nonviolent theft. Pickpockets take advantage of momentary lapses during which you’re not actively watching over your bags and pockets, and most likely, you’ll never notice the theft until after it’s happened. Pickpocketing tends to occur in areas frequented by tourists, such as airports or train and bus stations. High-traffic areas are also easy targets, as are tourist hot spots such as Starbucks, internet cafés, bars where international students tend to go, etc. Avoid these places as much as possible, and when you do find yourself there, be mindful of your belongings, and bring with you only what you absolutely need.

Lost or stolen items

If you misplace your credit cards, call immediately to cancel them.

  • Spark Card: +34 912 93 97 89 (Monday through Friday: 9am-6pm) or
  • 4B, Visa, Mastercard, Eurocard, Electron: +34 913 62 62 00
  • American Express: +34 900 94 14 13 or +34 902 37 56 37
  • Visa assistance center (only from land lines): +34 900 99 11 24
  • Mastercard assistance center (only from land lines): +34 900 97 12 31

To file a police report for lost or stolen items in Madrid, you may do so online or request assistance from the Student Life staff. Regardless of how you file a police report, let the Student Life Office know what happened.

Travel registration form

If you plan on spending the weekend away from Madrid, you’re required to fill out this form. We’ll only access the information in case of emergencies.

If you plan to travel outside Spain, be sure to ask the consulate of the country you’ll be visiting if you’ll need to apply for additional travel documents. Furthermore, make sure your visa will allow you to return to Spain.

Safety and security at Syracuse University

It is Syracuse University’s policy to provide anyone, on request, with a printed copy of the University’s policies and procedures regarding campus security and safety, as well as crime rates and statistics for the most recent three-year period. A copy of Your Safety and Security at Syracuse University, a handbook that provides this information, is available from DPS. The University’s crime information is also posted on the U.S. Department of Education website.

The U.S. Embassy in Spain also offers information on Help for U.S. Citizen Victims of Crime in Spain.