FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

WEATHER

Sevilla’s weather goes through phases like any other place. In the winter, it’s typically about 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit with the occasional cold days reaching the low 40s. In the spring, it warms up to the 70s and 80s, and it does rain. The summer heat is usually in the 100s and can be extreme, so most people take precautions not to spend much time in the sun during the worst of the heat. But in the fall, it’ll cool back down to the 70s before winter comes back again.

Food

We eat very well in Spain. Spanish people eat healthily following a traditional Mediterranean diet. The most common components of this type of diet are: bread, legumes, cereals, rice, a lot of fruit and vegetables, cheese, meat, and plenty of fish. It is a healthy diet, which uses olive oil as the basic fat. Fried food and stews are common. It is not hot or spicy at all. The food is mild. One of the best cultural experiences is to get to know Spanish food and to be willing to try new things.

Yes, it is perfectly fine to drink without any problem.

The Spanish meal times are very unique. Lunch is typically eaten here between 2:30-3:30. Dinner is quite late, at around 9:30-10:00. Some people choose to have a snack between the meals as well. Keep in mind that traditional/local restaurants (the ones that don’t cater to tourists) will probably not start dinner service until around 8 at the earliest.

Money

Spain uses euros. It’s a good idea to have an idea of the exchange rate before you come. One of the easiest ways to trip up in your budget is to lose track of how much things actually cost when you see a smaller number on the price tag.

It is recommended to have some Euros on hand before leaving. However, we don’t recommend bringing all the money you will expect to need and carry it with you just in case something happens (lost wallet, pick pocketers, etc. There are a few ways to get euros for your trip. The best way is to buy some from a bank from your home country before leaving. Every bank is different, so check with your bank to see if there’s a fee attached and what exchange rate they use. Typically, the banks have decent exchange rates. It’s good to know what your bank’s exchange rate is to compare it with the banks here. You can also buy euros in airports, but the exchange rates are usually not good, and there is a fee attached to the purchase. The same goes for currency exchange stores in Spain which can have even worse exchange rates than the airport.

It’s a good idea to take money out from ATMs rather than open a bank account or bring all your money from your home country. ATMs in Spain will give you euros as long as you have a card with a PIN number that is from a major company (Visa and Mastercard are your best options). Most ATMs charge around 5 euros for withdrawing money and give you the option to choose between the Spanish bank’s exchange rate and your home country’s bank’s exchange rate. Keep this in mind as you plan. The best method is to take chunks out from ATMs in decently big amounts (usually around 100-200 at a time) as needed during your semester here since you’ll be charged the commission fee every time you take money out.

Budgeting is one of the hardest parts of planning for your trip since it ultimately decides on your lifestyle. Make sure to plan for any side trips you will take, any time you decide to go out with friends, eating in restaurants, any souvenirs you want to get for your family, etc. Spain is relatively cheap, but budget for more money than you think you’ll need because it’s better to have extra money than to run short.

Daily Life

Most Spaniards dress well. Sweatpants, sweatshirts, and yoga pants are not very commonly worn. Most people tend to dress business casual on a daily basis.

One thing that can trip up foreign students is the accent. In Spain, they use the vosotros form frequently. Most American high schools tend to gloss over the conjugations, so it’s a good idea to brush up on that before coming. Also, the Sevillian/Andalusian accent is strong. It can take a while before you catch on completely, so if you’re feeling confused for the first few days, don’t worry. That’s normal. You will adapt!

Sevillians are typically very friendly. Most Spaniards appreciate when students try to speak in Spanish and are very willing to help you out.

Most of the time, walking is the easiest way to get around the city. Another option is the public bike system and bike lanes all around the city. Seville does have a public bus system, and one metro line and a tram system in the center of the city. Public transportation costs are relatively cheap here and can be a nice option if you aren’t feeling up to walking. Taxi stands can be found throughout the city and are reasonably priced. Other options like Cabbify and Uber are good options as well, especially late at night when the public transportation system has stopped running.

Spain tends to have small stores that are focused on one thing rather than large department stores that sell anything you need. Local supermarkets may not have a wide selection of non-food products, so you will have to find an appropriate selection of stores for your shopping needs.

Seville is a very safe city. Most people feel comfortable walking around at night. There is a very low crime rate, and most people don’t have problems. However, there is a concern for pick-pocketers. As long as you are aware of your surroundings and you don’t leave your belongings unattended, you shouldn’t have any problems here.

Technological Concerns

Wherever possible, it is better to bring only essential items. The electrical power in Spain is 220 and it would be necessary to bring an adapter, and the plugs and wall sockets are also different.

Yes. Especially if you are staying for more than a month. It will be of great use to you in your studies and/or at internship placements.

All housing options include Wifi. There are also places in Seville with free Wi-Fi and you will be given information about this upon your arrival.

If you do have a cell phone in your country it is very expensive to use it abroad as all the calls will be international. It is a requirement to buy a cell phone or a Spanish SIM Card once in Spain. We can advise you and help you find a shop in Seville.

When travelling, it’s incredibly useful to have some sort of external battery to charge your phone. Sometimes finding an outlet can be difficult, and you don’t want to be caught in a foreign place without a lifeline.

What to Pack

It’s best to pack light. Everyone ends up buying some things when they’re here, and you don’t want to have to pay for an overweight suitcase. Make sure you have appropriate clothing for the seasons you will be here, but laundry is done once a week, so there’s no need to bring half your closet.

Here are some useful things to bring with you:

  • However long you are coming for, the first thing we would like to tell you is to travel light.
  • The houses in Spain do not have large rooms for you to keep too many things and you will probably get more things during the stay. Traveling with a lot of luggage is not recommended nowadays and we would strongly advise you against it.
  • Warm socks/slippers: if you’re going to be here in the winter, bring some socks or slippers to wear around the house. Every host mom will swear up and down that you’ll catch a cold if you walk around barefoot, and honestly the floors can be cold, so definitely pack some cozy footwear. In Spanish houses it is not the norm to walk around barefoot, as the floors are not wooden or carpeted.
  • Winter jacket: To anyone from the north, Sevilla is not cold. However, if you have plans to travel, keep in mind that it will be colder in other places and it is very nice to have a warm coat.
  • Umbrella: If you’ve got a small umbrella, bring it. Rain in Sevilla can be pretty fickle, but with as much walking as we do here, it’s nice to not get wet as you go.
  • Small backpack: The school backpacks we use in the US are not typical around here. A small backpack or a large purse are more typical for college students. You shouldn’t have any textbooks to carry, just a notebook if you choose to carry one, plus any everyday things like your wallet, phone, charger, etc. It will come in handy.
  • Comfy shoes (preferably waterproof): I’ve already mentioned the walking and the rain, but it’s worth mentioning that since you will walk to a lot of places and you need shoes that won’t give you blisters and that will hold up against the rain. And if you go to the Cathedral (highly recommended) the climb to the tower with the best view of the city requires your best walking shoes.
  • If you come when it is hot you must bring a bathing suit.
  • You should bring one or two items which are dressier for special occasions.
  • In spring and autumn you will need light sweaters and in winter a winter coat or jacket and thick sweaters.

The most important thing is that you shouldn’t bring anything of great value, for example jewelry, expensive watches or anything, which may be of sentimental value to you. Beach towels are cheap so it might be worthwhile buying one once you get to Spain, rather than bringing one with you from your country. Regarding personal hygiene products, do not bring large quantities of anything unless it is special to you. You can buy whatever you need in Spain and so avoid carrying heavy products, which take up room in the suitcase.

Study Abroad

You have the option to take classes at one of three universities, University of Seville, University Pablo de Olavide, or EUSA. Classes are offered in a variety of subjects in both Spanish and English. We recommend choosing classes from the Courses for Foreign Students rather than taking traditional classes because the class structure and content can be incredibly difficult even without the language barrier. More information about classes can be found on the universities’ websites.

You will have to take a placement test in Spanish to help us guide you better with your classes and other activities.

At the beginning of the course the program will give you all the materials for the orientation.

SIGE has a program of internships in schools and companies. We also have a list of volunteering opportunities. All internship and volunteer programs must be requested through the home university prior to arrival. At the end of your stay you will get a certificate for your internship.

The Spanish universities will give you a university student card. The international student card is not essential, but it is good to have one. You can get a discount at many places all over Europe with a student card. There are several organizations that can give you your student card. The following link is one of them: International Student Identity Card www.isic.org

If you’re from a country in the European Union, it is not necessary. Spain also has agreements with many other countries outside of the European Union, and their citizens are allowed to stay in Spain without a visa if the stay is less than 90 days. However, if you do stay longer you will need a student’s visa. You have to apply for this through the link of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: www.maec.es Once you have enrolled at SIGE, and if your stay is going to be longer than 90 days, SIGE will send you the necessary documents for the student visa application. It is a long process, it usually takes 45 days, so you should begin to apply as soon as you can. Any student who has ever needed a visa has been assigned one, so don’t worry! However, you should be aware that all the Consulates do not work in the same way, and in some places, the process is more difficult than in others. You should also realize that if you are going to stay for an academic year, you have to supply your criminal record, which makes the process even slower.

Study Abroad - Side Trips

Yes! Remember that SIGE arranges excursions throughout Andalucía so check in with them before planning any trips. It’s a good idea to have thought about where you would like to travel so when you get here you can start planning your trips. We recommend you try not to travel alone, so talk to some of the other students you meet here to see if you can travel with a friend! There is a program called STEP UP run by the US government that is free and provides US students studying abroad with safety updates for the places they are traveling to. We recommend you log your trips with them as well, so you stay informed of anything going on in the area. Also, remember to budget for side trips beforehand. It’s highly recommended to take advantage of the cheaper flights to various destinations. You’ll also want to experience life in Sevilla, so don’t travel every weekend!

Homestay

You will be the only native speaker of your mother tongue in the household if you are a study abroad student. Other programs have the option to stay in the family with another student. The family might have another student of a different nationality.

The family will give you a packed lunch to take with you.

The family takes care of the laundry once a week. Dryers are not usually used; the clothes are hung out to dry, so keep in mind that your clothes won’t be ready immediately.

Most Spanish families live in apartments. European housing is usually smaller when compared to American houses, however you will find all the commodities you will need during your stay here.

All the families involved in the program in Seville live in the neighborhoods of Nervión, Triana and Los Remedios. You can walk to the center of Seville from there in less than half an hour. Depending on the location of your housing, you might be able to walk or you may need to use public transport. The meeting points to catch the buses for the field trips are also in the mentioned neighborhoods, close to everyone.

Yes, it is possible to change. We keep in contact with the families and when a problem arises we always recommend you talk about it. Quite often any tension is caused by misunderstandings. However, if the problem cannot be solved, a change of family is organized.

You should let us know on the application form if you have any special dietary restrictions so the family can take this into account at mealtimes.

It isn't obligatory nor are they expecting one, but you can bring a present for the host family or for the mother of the family. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive; it shouldn’t be heavy or breakable. Look for a present that you can give to the family or the mother on your arrival. It doesn’t really matter what it is, it’s the thought that counts. Something traditional from your home state or region is always a good option.

Not every Spanish apartment has a bathtub, but showers are definitely preferred. You are allowed to take a shower daily. Spaniards are very environmentally conscious when it comes to water usage, so keep your showers short.

All host family options include Wifi. There are also places in Seville with free Wi-Fi and you will be given information about this upon your arrival.

Shared Apartment

  1. A bedroom to yourself with some sort of storage space and a fan or air conditioner.
  2. Adequate space to study, either in your bedroom or in a different room, including a chair, a desk, and a lamp.
  3. Towels, bed linens and blankets.
  4. A key to access the apartment, house or building.
  5. You must keep all common spaces (living room, kitchen, bathroom, etch.) clean.

Keep in mind that Spanish washing machines tend to be smaller and slower (but more efficient and ecological) than the ones you are probably used to. Most households in Spain do not have a clothes dryer. Clothes are normally hung up to dry, something that may take more or less time, depending on atmospheric conditions.

Health Care

If you have the program’s medical insurance you can go to a private hospital in Seville. Depending on your insurance policy, you will either have to pay the fee and then get a reimbursement from your insurance company or you will be covered immediately without having to pay anything at all. If you do not have health insurance, you can go to any private hospital but you will have to pay before seeing a doctor.

The program has medical insurance as well as repatriation insurance. The insurance company has arranged the health care to be with the best private hospitals in the Seville area. Medicine is not covered in the health insurance plan.

The Spanish medical system is quite advanced and you will probably be able to find the specific medicine you need. However, we advise you to bring all the medicine you will need with you from your country to avoid any problems because there could be a difference in the components of the medication in different countries.

If you use glasses you should bring a spare pair.

Religion

Spain is traditionally a Catholic country and many religious festivals and traditions are still celebrated. However Spain has evolved a lot over the last 30 years, it has opened up and its population has grown and become more diverse. Spanish people are open and flexible and are used to living with people of different religions. We can provide you with information if you are looking for a place of worship for other religions as well.

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