Preparing to Go: Madrid

Syracuse Madrid Center

Syracuse Madrid
[YOUR NAME] Calle Miguel Ángel, 8
28010, Madrid, Spain

Tel. (011-34) 91.319.9942

Madrid Staff Contact Information

Staying Connected on Social Media:
You can stay connected by following @syracuseumadrid & @syracuseabroad on Instagram.

Syracuse Madrid students are highly encouraged to download and use the Syracuse Madrid guide on the Guidebook app. There, you will find your orientation schedule, event sign-ups, important phone numbers, Madrid tips and tricks, the Syracuse Madrid academic & cultural calendar, and more!

You will be required to check your Syracuse email regularly as this is our official means of communication with you.

Syracuse Madrid Program Dates

Page Contents

Traveling to Madrid


Students will make individual travel arrangements to and from Madrid. Instructions will be emailed to admitted students with a suggested itinerary and helpful tips.

Please refrain from arranging travel to Madrid until instructed to do so by your International Program Advisor.

Note the following:

  • The program begins on Tuesday, January 18, 2024 and ends on Friday, May 10 2024. Program housing does not extend beyond those dates.
  • For students participating in the Signature Seminar, the program begins Tuesday, January 9, 2024.
  • For students participating in the UAM Program, the program ends on Friday, May 31, 2024.
  • You will be provided with detailed arrival information approximately one week prior to departure for Madrid.

Do not plan personal travel until you arrive in Madrid. You may be required to take part in any class-related tours, all-program trips, make-up classes, exam periods, and other academic commitments.


Pack clothing and belongings for the semester in ONE large, checked bag.   If you are attending the Marine Ecology seminar, be sure to pack your carry-on bag with essentials in case your checked luggage is delayed and with items you’ll need for the duration of the Signature Seminar.  Items to pack in your carry-on bag may include: electronics, specific travel-sized toiletries, a few changes of clothing, etc. Do not bring more luggage than you can comfortably transport on your own and leave unnecessary valuables at home. Here are more packing tips and guidelines for your trip.

Sending items such as drugs, vitamins, prescription glasses, and food is forbidden.  These items need import/export permits to be cleared. These processes are lengthy and complicated and not worth the trouble.  Make sure to bring enough supplies for the duration of your semester abroad.

Take enough medication to cover the entire time that you will be living abroad and a copy of the prescription from your doctor with both the chemical name and the brand name.  You may find that your medication is not available overseas and cannot be shipped so be sure to bring enough.

Note that students are advised not to store their luggage at Syracuse Madrid facilities after the end of the semester.

Living in Madrid

One of the results of the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine is that the expected flow of natural gas, used as a heating source for much of Europe, has been disrupted and dramatically increased in cost.  European governments have responded with varying degrees of restrictions on temperature settings, hours of operation, and duration of heat each day for this winter.  Cost, of course, has also increased substantially and is a leading cause of inflation in Europe.  As a result, you will notice an increased cost for many goods and services, and you will certainly notice that it will be much colder in homes and business.  Please bring extra warm clothes that you can layer and so adapt to colder than expected indoor temperatures.  We will keep you updated as we get closer to departure with the specific restrictions you can expect.


Prior to your arrival in Madrid, you will complete the Madrid Survival Toolkit, a digital orientation on Blackboard. This is prepared by Syracuse Madrid staff and is separate from the pre-departure orientation you complete through Syracuse Abroad. You will receive the link and instructions several weeks before departure.

In addition to Digital Orientation, you will also have an in-person Welcome Session at the Syracuse Madrid Center where you will learn more about navigating a new culture and city and what lies ahead during your semester. Participation in all events, including housing orientation activities the first weekend in Madrid, is mandatory.


Syracuse Madrid currently offers two housing options:

Homestay Option: No more than two students are placed with one host family. Mutual roommate requests will share a double room. Your host(s) may vary from families with younger or older children to single professionals. Many families have been hosting Syracuse students for many years. You will receive breakfast and dinner every day (14 meals per week) and you will need to budget additional funds to cover your midday meals. The host family will also provide you with bed and bath linens, do your laundry once a week, and clean your room once a week. Students may apply for a host family change in the exceptional circumstances and only after the fifteen-day adaptation period in Madrid has passed. Changes in homestay will only be considered when Syracuse Madrid determines that the current housing assignment represents a demonstrable risk to the students’ wellbeing.

  • Students may apply for a host family change in the exceptional circumstances and only after the fifteen-day adaptation period in  Madrid has passed. Changes in homestay will only be considered when Syracuse Madrid determines that the current housing assignment represents a demonstrable risk to the students’ wellbeing.
  • Spring semester students are responsible for their housing & meals during the mid-semester break (10 days) and will need to cover the costs out of pocket. Easter break is from Friday, March 22 after breakfast to Monday, April 1 before dinner.

Residence Hall Options:  A limited number of double rooms are available in two residence halls throughout the city. Syracuse Madrid students will be roomed together. The residence halls will provide you with bed and bath linens and will change and launder them. The frequency of this service depends on the residence hall chosen. A coin laundry is available on site for you to wash your clothes. Residence hall students should budget five euros per week for one load of laundry.

  • Residencia El Faro:  The El Faro residence hall is located in Madrid’s central Moncloa neighborhood.  At El Faro breakfast, lunch, and dinner are offered in the dining room from Sunday evening to Friday mid-day, and student rooms have kitchenettes to keep snacks.
  • Xior Residence Hall:  The Xior Residence Hall is located in Madrid’s Salamanca neighborhood. Xior offers 40 meals per month, 20 of these meals are breakfast and the rest are lunch or dinner. Meals are offered on the on-site dining facility.  There is also a kitchenette on every floor.
  • The Social Hub: The Social Hub (TSH) is located in Madrid’s Plaza España neighborhood, very near Puerta del Sol. The residence hall space offers single-room accommodations with an ensuite bathroom. You can purchase meals in the cafeteria or use the large common kitchen, where you will have access to your own refrigerated locker.

Placements are based on student preferences (by completing the Madrid housing questionnaire) and our staff’s extensive experience.

Note: You are not permitted to host overnight guests during your semester abroad. Visiting friends and family should make hotel reservations. You may not stay in your housing assignment before or after the program dates.


In Madrid and all Spanish cities, virtually everyone lives in an apartment (piso).  Most host families live within a 35-minute commute from the Syracuse Madrid Center. The Xior residence hall is a 20-minute walk and The Social Hub is a 25-minute, direct commute from the Syracuse Madrid Center. Many students report that walking is convenient and public transportation is also easily accessible. You will be provided with a public transportation pass (included in your program fee). You will need to recharge your transportation card every 30 days with a transportation allowance loaded onto a prepaid Mastercard that you will receive immediately following the orientation. These passes are for unlimited rides and can be used for the subway, commuter train, and bus system within Madrid.


Students are expected to bring a working laptop computer. (Syracuse Madrid does not provide IT support)

  • Ensure that your computer will work on 220/240-volt, 50-cycle current.  If not, you will need a small converter to use it overseas. These are available from most electronics stores or can be ordered online (i.e., Best Buy, Amazon). We recommend purchasing one before you arrive.
  • You will also need a Type-C plug adapter for Spain, available at stores like Best Buy or Target or at any hardware store in Madrid (e.g., ferretería).
  • Host families and the residence halls will have internet access. Do not expect the same speed as in the United States.

Student Email

All university communications will be sent to your email, so it is imperative you check this daily. We expect you to read and respond to emails promptly- it is our first mode of contact in an emergency.

Note that Syracuse University uses a two-factor authentication system for email and other electronic access. You should configure this with a smartphone app before travel, so you do not have issues accessing your email. Visit Answers for more information.

Failure to receive and read communications sent to your university email address does not absolve you from knowing and complying with the content of them.

Cell Phones

Please ensure that before you leave the U.S. you have downloaded the Microsoft Authenticator Mobile app on your smartphone. This will allow Syracuse University’s two-factor authentication system to work while you are abroad and is critical for access to email, MySlice, etc. Visit Answers for more information.

Syracuse Madrid is committed to student safety and security; therefore, all students must have a smartphone which can regularly make and receive calls locally for the duration of the program. GPS must be activated at all times for our Alert Traveler program.

The use of a Spanish cell phone or SIM card is encouraged for the duration of the program. Many students choose to unlock their U.S. cell phone (before departure for Madrid) and purchase a SIM card upon arrival or obtain an inexpensive smartphone once in Spain with prepaid plan. Students are advised not to purchase SIM cards at the airport.

In the event of a travel delay or flight change during your transatlantic flights to and from Madrid, it is helpful to have your U.S. cell phone so that you can contact your family and Syracuse Abroad.

If you plan to use your existing cell phone service (e.g., AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon) be sure it is set up for international roaming with a convenient international plan. Do this before you leave the U.S.

In order to maintain the highest level of Syracuse Madrid support:

  • You must have and keep with you a working Spanish cell phone number (if you do not have an international plan).
  • You must supply Syracuse Madrid’s Student Life staff with your up-to-date mobile number upon arrival in Madrid.


Please refer to the Packing section above for information about prescriptions. Mailing medication overseas is NOT permitted.

Mail should always be sent to the center’s address (see above) to the student’s attention (never to the host family address). All mail that fits in an envelope may be sent to Madrid typically without any delay by Spanish customs. This includes replacements for debit or credit cards.

Staff will notify students by email when a package arrives, though students are strongly discouraged from receiving packages from non-EU countries due to the lengthy and expensive process of retrieving packages from customs.

There has been a marked increase of packages from the United States being held at customs. In many cases, students are being asked to pay hefty import tariffs. Furthermore, customs officials will require an active Spanish fiscal number to clear a package that is being held. Syracuse Madrid staff cannot provide you with this number, and as a result, you may have to resort to paying a broker to release your shipment.

Encourage loved ones to avoid sending you packages by mail as most items can be obtained in Spain. If articles must be sent by mail, advise your loved ones not to send irreplaceable or valuable items because there is no sure-fire way to be able to avoid paying customs duties or tariffs (marking packages as gifts or used personal items will not help). Be prepared to pay 21% IVA (VAT), up to 17% duty and a flat fee for processing each package. Syracuse Madrid staff can inform you about the steps to be taken, but can neither intervene nor guarantee a completed and successful shipment.

Financial Information

Syracuse Madrid Program Cost


You will find that you use cash more frequently in Madrid than you do in the United States, especially for purchases of less than 10 euros. Please visit the Finances Abroad page for more information on banking while abroad.

Transferring Funds

Family members may send you money during the semester by depositing money in a U.S. bank account accessible through ATMs or by wiring money to any MoneyGram or Western Union office for pickup. During Orientation, you will be provided with a Spark Prepaid MasterCard for your transportation allowance. Family members may also transfer money directly to your Spark card  though it entails a fee. For complete advice on transferring money overseas, check with your bank.

Students may also want to consider a Charles Schwab debit card or a Wise international card to avoid transaction fees.

Do NOT bring U.S. dollars. Local Spanish banks cannot exchange small amounts of money and the exchange rate is high.

Academic Information

Current detailed information will be provided in the Planning Your Schedule packet.

Enrollment Policies

You are required to enroll on a full-time basis and register for at least 12 credits of Syracuse Abroad courses. Due to Spanish immigration requirements, you cannot drop below 12 credits at any point during the semester. You may enroll for up to 19 total credits at no additional charge.  The optional Signature Seminar does not count towards your 12-credit minimum.

All students must take at least one Spanish language course for credit. These classes are scheduled at 9:00 am.  Students who for any reason do not take Spanish language instruction class must take at least one Spanish content course.

Some courses may not be audited. These include required SPA courses and affiliated Spanish university courses.

Attendance to all classes is mandatory, and a note from a doctor approved by Syracuse Madrid is needed to excuse an absence. Students are also expected to attend all scheduled trips and events. Students are not allowed to make personal travel arrangements until their schedule is completely set in Madrid, after the add deadline (typically a week after classes have already started) and considering related field trips. Some courses may have mandatory field trips on Fridays that cannot be missed due to personal trips. If a personal travel conflicts with a mandatory study tour, students will need to rearrange their personal travel plans at their own expense.


Online course registration occurs prior to departure with dates announced in your Planning Your Schedule packet. You will need special permission from our office to register for any courses designated in the academic packet as “Special Enrollment.” To be considered for these courses, you must meet any prerequisites, return your Student Advising Form by the specified deadline, and list the Special Enrollment course among your Primary Course Selections. You will receive registration instructions one to two weeks before registration starts. You will be notified by email if you have permission to register for a requested Special Enrollment Course.

Diversity & Inclusion

For more information regarding Syracuse Madrid’s dedication to diversity and inclusion, visit the Syracuse Madrid website. At our Madrid Center, you may also join scheduled discussions centering on diversity and inclusion.

Covid-19 Protocol

As of February 15, 2023: Effective for all programs starting after February 15, 2023, Syracuse Abroad will strongly encourage, but not require, all participants to receive the Covid-19 vaccine and/or a recommended booster dose prior to the start of their program. Syracuse Abroad will continue to enforce local Covid-19 vaccine and/or booster mandates where required by law or partner institutions. Similar guidelines will be followed for homestay families. Non-Syracuse University students must still comply with the Covid vaccine requirements of their home school.

All protocol & requirements are subject to change at any point. Syracuse Madrid staff will inform you of any changes if they occur.