Preparing to Go: Madrid


Syracuse Madrid Program Dates

Syracuse Madrid Center

Syracuse University in Madrid
Attn: Student’s Name
Instituto Internacional
Miguel Angel 8, Despacho 204
28010 MADRID
Tel. (011-34) 91.319.9942
Fax (011-34) 91.319.0986

Madrid Staff Contact Information

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

Syracuse Madrid students are required to download and use the Syracuse Madrid Guide app. Here you will find your orientation schedule, event sign-ups, 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.

Page Contents

Traveling to Madrid

There are two options for travel to Madrid. You can choose to arrange the suggested flight through a local travel agency, Advantage Travel, or you may choose to make your own travel arrangements and meet the group upon arrival in Madrid. Admitted students receive an email detailing both options.


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

If traveling independently to Madrid for the fall 2020 semester:

  • You must purchase a flight that arrives in Madrid very early (prior to 8 a.m.) on the morning of Thursday, September 24. Your return flight should depart Madrid on Friday, December 18. Program housing will not be provided beyond Friday, December 18 for Syracuse Madrid Center students. Per Spanish Immigration laws, U.S. citizens must depart on this date to avoid overstaying their 90-day tourist period within the Schengen Zone.
  • You will receive an independent travel memo detailing where to go after arrival in Madrid.


Pack clothing and belongings for the semester in ONE large checked bag. When you arrive, this bag will be taken to a secure storage facility while you are at your 2-3 day orientation and will be available to you when you return to Madrid to move into your housing assignment. Items to pack in your carry-on bag for your orientation include: electronics, specific travel-sized toiletries, appropriate 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.

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

Living in Madrid


Prior to your arrival in Madrid, you will complete a Digital Orientation on Blackboard. You will receive the link and instructions several weeks before departure.

You will also have an orientation close to Madrid 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 offers two housing options:

  • Homestay Option: No more than two students are placed with one host family. 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.
    • Fall semester students must vacate the host family home for the fall break. You should leave after breakfast on Friday, October 30, and return for dinner on Monday, November 9.
    • Spring semester students must vacate the host family home for Semana Santa, or Easter holiday.  You should leave after breakfast on Friday, April 3, and return for dinner on Monday, April 13.
  • Residence Hall Option: The Colegio Mayor El Faro residence hall (El Faro) is located in Madrid’s central Moncloa neighborhood. Syracuse Madrid students will share double rooms. The residence hall will provide you with bed and bath linens and will change and launder them once a week. 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. At El Faro breakfast, lunch, and dinner are offered in the dining room seven days a week, and student rooms have kitchenettes to keep snacks.

Upon arrival in Madrid and after your orientation, you will go to your housing assignment. Placements are based on student preferences (by completing the Madrid housing questionnaire) and our staff’s extensive experience.

Note: You are not allowed to host overnight guests during your semester abroad. Visiting friends and family should make hotel reservations. You may not stay in your housing assignment once the program ends.


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 residence hall is a 35-minute walk to the Syracuse Madrid Center. Many students report that walking is convenient, but public transportation is also easily accessible. You will be provided with a public transportation pass (included in your program fee) if a passport-style photo is uploaded to OrangeAbroad before June 1. 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 Signature Seminar. These passes are for unlimited rides and can be used for the subway, commuter train, and bus system within Madrid.

During the fall 2020 semester in Madrid, you should expect occasional delays in public transportation and longer commutes as social distancing measures evolve.


Students are expected to bring a working laptop computer.

  • 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 (i.e., Best Buy). We recommend purchasing one before you arrive.
  • You will also need a specific 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 El Faro will have internet access. Do not expect the same speed as in the United States. Internet access at home may be limited according to the host family’s needs.

Cell Phones

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 American 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 within one week of arrival in Madrid.


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 many host families do not feel comfortable doing so. 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. For complete advice on transferring money overseas, check with your bank. We advise you not to bring U.S. dollars because exchange fees are high and it is difficult to find banks that will exchange small amounts.

Academic Information

Detailed information will be provided in your academic packet.

Enrollment Policies

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

All students must take at least one Spanish language course for credit. These classes are scheduled at 9:00 am. Students who enroll in SPA 302 or a higher-level language course are also required to take at least one non-language instruction course taught in Spanish that carries an SPA cross listing. Students who place out of Spanish language must take at least two non-language instruction courses taught in Spanish that carry an SPA cross listing.

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

Attendance to all classes is mandatory.


Final grades for courses taken at an affiliated Spanish university may not be received and posted to Syracuse’s student records system until mid-February for fall semester and late August for spring semester.


Online course registration occurs prior to departure with dates announced in the academic 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, including a list of students eligible to register for any Special Enrollment courses, one to two weeks before registration starts.

Because course offerings at the local affiliated university — Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM)—are not confirmed until shortly before the semester begins, students accepted to this program are advised to participate in online registration for Madrid Center courses. In addition, a separate registration process is required by the partner university. Deadlines and procedure are determined by the partner university; therefore, it is the students’ responsibility to follow the specific instructions that will be emailed to them once they are accepted.

Check the academic calendar published in the Syracuse Madrid Guide before booking any personal travel.

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 join the Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee (DISC) or choose to attend MadConvos, where discussions often center on diversity and inclusion.