GRANADA, SPAIN Pre-Departure Handbook


Greetings from Sol Education Abroad,

You are about to embark on a life-changing experience. While abroad you will cultivate relationships and memories that will last a lifetime. Our mission is to provide you with an enriching and rewarding educational experience. As part of this mission we want to make sure that you have information about your program site before you leave.

Sol Education Abroad was founded under the principles of promoting cultural understanding and the lifelong study of foreign languages. While on your program you will learn about the unique cultures and people of the country you are studying in.

Thanks for choosing Sol Education Abroad!



Before you leave on your program we suggest you do some research about where you will be studying. It can make your experience that much more enjoyable and enriching!



Your passport must be valid at for at least six months or longer beyond the dates of your trip. Some immigration officers may not allow you to enter the country otherwise.



For summer students no special visa is needed (such as a student visa).

For stays under 90 days, Spain does not require that you obtain a visa until you arrive in the country. The stamp that you are given in your passport is the Tourist Visa. You will be allowed to stay in Spain (and the European Union) for up to 90 days on this visa. When going through Immigration simply hand them your passport.

For students staying over 90 days you will need a Student Visa which we will help you obtain. For up-to-date fees and procedures, as well as other valuable travel information, visit the US Embassy.

For semester students doing the early start date for our programs, or who plan to travel in Europe before or after the program placing their stay over 90 days, they will need a student visa. Sol Education Abroad will guide you through the steps before your program begins and help with the necessary paperwork.

If you are unable to obtain a visa, make sure you say that you are only traveling (not studying).


Sol Education Abroad recommends that all students register with the US State Department while overseas. This is very simple to do. Please visit the website to enter in the requested information. You will need an address and a telephone number to register. Please use the following info:

Universidad de Granada

Placeta del Hospicio Viejo s/n 18009



Telephone: +34-958-215-660


Geographic Location Southwestern Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay, Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, and Pyrenees Mountains, southwest of France

Climate Temperate; clear, hot summers in interior, more moderate and cloudy along coast; cloudy, cold winters in interior, partly cloudy and cool along coast

Terrain (Spain) large, flat to dissected plateau surrounded by rugged hills; Pyrenees mountain range in north

Terrain (Granada) Elevation is 559 meters (1,834 feet). Located where the Sierra Nevada Mountains meet a fertile plain known as El Vega. Behind the city are steep mountains and in front lies the flat agricultural plain.

Highest point El Mulhacén 3,481 m, or 11,418 ft (tallest peak on the Iberian Peninsula), Tenerife 3,718 m, or 12, 195 ft (in the Canary Islands, tallest peak in Spanish-owned territory)

Population of Spain 40,397,842 (July 2006 estimate)

Population of Granada 250,000

People Spain is generally very mono-cultural in comparison to most other developed countries. During the years of Francisco Franco (the dictatorship) there was very little immigration. 95% of the population is white and Catholic. For centuries Spain was host to Arabic culture and this has left many strong imprints both genetically and culturally.


In January there are lots of blue skies and it is warm during the day but cold at night. There are occasional frosts. During the spring and fall the temperature is very pleasant in Granada with warm and sunny days. June, July, and August months are hot, but fortunately Granada has a dry heat with no humidity, which makes the temperatures comfortable. Mornings are cool and spring-like and evenings can be cool and breezy, sometimes requiring a light sweater in the summer. There is very little rainfall in Granada.


In Spain you they use “vosotros”, which is an informal plural tense. Do not worry if you don’t know vosotros! You will learn about it on the program and it is one of the fun aspects of studying abroad in Spain! Also, “c”and “z” are pronounced like a “th”. Some people call it a lisp but it is not. Linguistically, it makes a lot of sense – it is to distinguish these letters from an “s”. In Latin America “c” and “z” became to be pronounced like an “s” – the phenomena known as  “seseo”. Each region of Spain has its own accent. In Andalucía you will often hear people cut off the “s”on the end of words. “más o menos” will sound like “mah o menoh”. This is the same phenomena you find in Caribbean Spanish. There are many similarities between Caribbean Spanish and the Spanish of Andalucía.


Jan 1st 

Año Nuevo (New Year's Day)

Jan 6th 

Día de los Tres Reyes (12th night, when Christmas presents are given)

Mar 19th 

San José (Father's Day)


Viernes Santo (Good Friday)


Día de Pascúa (Easter Sunday)

May 1st 

Día del Trabajo (Labor Day)

Jun 24th 

San Juan (St. John's Day)


Corpus Christi

Jun 29th 

San Pedro y San Pablo (St. Peter & St. Paul)

Jul 25th 

Santiago (St. James, patron saint of Spain)

Aug 15th 

Asunción (Assumption)

Oct 12th 

Día de la Hispanidad (Columbus Day)

Nov 1st 

Todos los Santos (All Saints Day)

Dec 6th

Día de la Constitución (Constitution Day)

Dec 8th 

Imaculada Concepción (Immaculate Conception)

Dec 25th 

Navidad (Christmas Day)


Spain is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST). The country observes daylight savings (from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in September).


Usually, business hours are 9 AM to 6 PM, Monday through Friday. Department stores are generally open from 10 AM to 8 PM, Monday through Saturday. Banking hours are 8:30 AM to 2:30 PM, Monday through Friday, and Saturday mornings. Banks are most full on Fridays. Most stores close during siesta which is from 2 PM to 5 or 6 PM.


Generally, Spaniards dress very similarly to Americans. However, clothing brands and styles do set Spaniards and Europeans apart from Americans. We suggest you bring the clothes that you are normally used to wearing. The points below are a few things to keep in mind: 




You can definitely bring your laptop! This is great for communication (especially Skype). Increasingly you will find WiFi at the homestay, the school, and at cafés in town. Please be careful, though! This is an item that can get stolen or damaged easily so just be careful with it. Remember, you do not always have to carry your laptop with you, in fact we highly recommend you do not travel with it locally. There are computer labs at the school and Internet cafés all over town so sometimes it’s easier to just use a public computer when you are away from your homestay.




Excursions are a fundamental part of the abroad experience and are included in all summer and semester program unless stated as optional. We carefully select weekend excursions that allow you to discover more about the country in which you are studying and are selected based on cultural and educational importance or sites of natural beauty. Entrance and transportation fees are always included. Before any excursion your director will go over the itinerary of the trip and what you should pack. If you have a guide book it can make it more interesting to read about the excursion before you leave, the Lonely Planet or similar guides are excellent options.

SEVILLA (Semester, Summer I)

Seville (Sevilla in Spanish) is one of the most historic cities in Europe. Over 2,000 years old, it has been influenced by countless cultures all of which is seen today in its enchanting architecture. The many historic buildings and neighborhoods hold the imprint of the vibrant Muslim, Jewish, and Christian cultures that called this city home. We will visit the most impressive sites such as the famous minaret of La Giralda, a beautiful example of the city’s strong Moorish past. The Cathedral of Sevilla houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus and is the largest Catholic Cathedral building in the world. Sevilla is the artistic and cultural capital of southern Spain. Walking around Sevilla, you will experience a lively and fun-loving city. If you travel to Spain, you cannot miss Sevilla!


Nerja is a relaxing getaway to the Andalucía coast. Commonly known as the Costa del Sol (Sun Coast), it is a popular beach escape for people from all over Europe. The drive between Granada and Nerja is impressive. You will pass through deep canyons and then along a spectacular coastal highway. The deep blue Mediterranean Sea stretches out below the winding roadway. Nerja is a small coastal town with plenty of beaches to pass the day. Many of the beaches are intimate, tucked amongst cliffs and rocks jutting from the sea. Along the beaches are restaurants set out in the sand where you can enjoy fresh fish while basking in the tranquility of the Mediterranean. The paella here is incredible!


The Alpujarras, located high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, was the Moor’s last stronghold in Spain. This area was actually first colonized in the 1200s by Berber refugees from Seville. The Berbers, originally from North Africa, introduced the unique architecture that is still used in the high villages of the Alpujarras today. This region is an earthly paradise high above the rest of Andalucía. The snows of the Sierras keep the valleys and villages of the Alpujarras well-watered year round. Even in the summer, the countryside is green and full of flowers. Visiting these villages is like stepping into another world. Small whitewashed farmhouses cling to the terraced edges of forest-lined gorges while rivers rush by below. Besides exploring these unique villages, there are many opportunities for hiking in the area. While trekking from Capileira, one of the most picturesque of the Alpujarras villages, one is rewarded with views of El Mulhacén, the tallest peak on the Spanish Peninsula. There can be more chance of sunburn here so bring plenty of sunblock. Also, because of altitude, temperatures are cooler here. In the evenings you will want a light fleece or sweater.


The beautiful beaches of Southern Spain are tucked along a rugged coastline backed by arid mountain ranges and tropical valleys. Ancient white-washed villages hug the steep hillsides. We will explore the tropical beaches and kayak and sail over the clear, deep blue Mediterranean waters.


The Alhambra is one of the most impressive monuments in the world. It was the ancient palace of the Sultans beginning in the 9th century, and remained in their power until 1492. The marvelously decorated walls of the palaces are like something out of a dream. Stuccoed inscriptions in Arabic repeat throughout the palaces, continuously drawing you into the unique history of the fortress. The use of water throughout the Alhambra bestows upon you a sense of calm while exploring the ornate passages and stunning gardens. It is nothing short of stepping into another world. Equally as inspiring as the restored palaces of the Alhambra are the breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada and of Granada below. No trip to Spain is complete without experiencing this colossal palace.


Cultural activities are an important part of your experience. You will learn so much by going to classes but you’ll learn just as much, if not more, outside of the classroom. These activities are designed to enhance your experience and show you more of what the site has to offer! Your director will announce the weekly cultural activities every week during your meetings. For summer programs there are 3 cultural activities a week. During semester programs they are more spread out and there are 1 to 2 cultural activities included a week.  Cultural activities include:


Arriving to an airport overseas is arriving into the unknown but do not worry, one of your program directors will be there waiting for you when you arrive!


There are multiple terminals at the Madrid airport. One terminal is for flights coming directly from countries outside of the European Union (such as the US). Another is for Iberia flights coming from overseas. For flights that come from within the European Union (such as from Rome or Amsterdam) there is another terminal. The description below is for flights arriving directly from the US. Here is what to expect upon touchdown at the airport in Madrid. Despite everyone’s best planning, flight delays, bad weather, and other unforeseen circumstances can impact your meeting with your director at the airport. If for whatever reason, you do not meet your director, just use the phone numbers given to you to contact them. Stay at the airport until we find you! For the terminal that services Iberia flights (Terminal 4) the process is similar. That terminal is much larger and you will take a train to get to baggage claim and customs.


For those flying from Madrid to Granada, the airport in Granada is very small and very easy to get around. You will go through customs in Madrid. Once you land in Granada, pick up your luggage and exit the main sliding door, our onsite director will be waiting for you.


Spain is part of the European Union and as such uses the euro €. To find the most up-to-date conversion please visit XE. We suggest that you travel with a credit or debit card. You could also bring some cash that you can exchange at the Madrid airport. Whenever you exchange money you will need your passport. On the Madrid excursion there is an ATM right around the corner from the hotel.


ATMs are fairly common throughout Spain. Call your bank before you leave to let them know you are using the card outside of the country and the dates you will be gone. Also, check with your bank beforehand to see if there are any international charges for pulling cash overseas. You can only take out a maximum of 300 euros per day at the ATMs in Spain.


Credit cards are widely accepted in Spain. Check with your credit card company beforehand to see if there are any extra international charges and to let them know that you are traveling overseas. There is a foreign currency conversion fee and it is usually from 1% to 3%. Capital One is the only credit card at the moment that charges no foreign currency conversion fee.


Not recommended because they can be difficult to cash. You can bring these only for emergency uses. If for some reason your debit card is not working or is lost or stolen you can still use the Traveler’s checks. You will need your passport to exchange Traveler’s Checks.


You will want to bring some extra spending money with you. We suggest about $100-200 per week depending on spending habits.  This money is for souvenirs, shopping, meals that aren’t included, or extra activities that you may decide to do during excursions.


If you were ever in an emergency situation that you needed money (such as if you lost your wallet) just let your onsite director know! We will definitely assist you financially until your situation can be resolved.


Spain uses 220 V AC at 50 Hz, the same as the rest of Europe. However, there are 125 or 110 V AC sockets, even within the same building. Plugs have two round pins so if you bring any electrical items from the US you will need to bring an adapter plug. These can be bought at travel or outdoor stores or in the airport. They are more difficult to buy once in Spain. Be wary of plugging electrical items in from the US—check to make sure the item can handle the different electrical current. Hairdryers brought from the US, for example, often short out. We recommend you buy a hair dryer or straighter upon arrival. Most new electronics, such as digital cameras, and laptops are of the 110 V AC – 240 V AC range. If the electrical plug they use has a small box on the cord then you have the built-in converter.



Internet cafés are very common in Granada and can be found on almost every corner. Also, the University of Granada has a computer room. Keeping in contact with friends and family is a great way to share your experience. Just remember, though, it can take away from your Spanish learning. Attempt to write as little as possible in English while you are there.  It is not common to have Internet at your host family’s home but there are many Internet cafés all over town!


The University of Granada has Wi-Fi.


Stamps are bought at stores called estancos, which are easily recognized by the big brown and yellow signs. Your director will point these out. Stamps are the same price as at the post office, but it is much more convenient to purchase them at an estanco. "Los Correos" is the name of the postal service in Spain. Mail from the USA usually takes 7 to 10 days to be received.



You can make local phone calls and receive all phone calls from your host family’s home phone. Out of courtesy please let your family know when you use the phone. You will need a phone card to make an international call from their home phone. Major calling cards (such as AT&T and MCI) can be used in Spain. You can also purchase calling cards in Spain as you need them; this is what most students do.  When talking with friends and family in the States we suggest calling collect and then having your friends and family call you back at the host family’s house. Rates are cheaper this way.


Another option is VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Skype is a great system and one you can use in Internet cafés. Skype


We provide a cell phone to all students now through RealCom. We will send an email with the registration details to you 1 month prior to the program start date. This is a pay-as-you-go phone. Having a local cell phones is extremely useful to communicate with the other students in your group, your directors, and friends and family back home.


You can also use your US cell phone but make sure you call your provider beforehand to see what the charges are. Costs of using your US cell phone in Spain can sometimes be VERY high and if someone tries to call your US cell with a Spanish cell phone they will be charged an international call rate. The owner of the cell phone is charged when receiving calls and the rate varies depending on where the call was made from. Also, when making a call from a land line the rate differs between calling another land line and calling a cell phone (charge is slightly higher). You might not be able to use your US cell phone in Spain unless it is GPRS compatible with a SIM card. You may have to take it to a phone shop in Spain where they remove the SIM card. This can cost up to 20 euros for this service.


The host family is one of the best parts of your experience in Granada! This will be your greatest and most intimate contact with the culture and people of Spain. Families in Granada are middle-class by Spanish standards. Most people in Spain live in apartments rather than houses. Remember, you may not be the only foreign student in the home. Sometimes families work with other programs and if they have multiple rooms, they may have someone else living there. If this is the case, talk to you director onsite if you have any problems with the housing.


We encourage you to bring a small gift for your host family to present to them when you arrive. A present is a nice way to break the ice and share some of your local US culture with your Tico family. Some examples of gifts students have given in the past are family-style board games (that don’t require a language), local treats like preserves, candies, or maple syrup, a coffee-table photo book of their hometown, or a dry baking mix like blueberry muffins, biscuits, or scones.

For some student feedback & examples of Host Family Gifts from alumni, check out this article: Un Regalo For Your Host Family!

Some suggestions when living with your family:

Your director will go over host family rules and regulations more extensively onsite.


You will share all of your meals with your host family. You will eat what they eat!  They will accommodate any needs or preferences you may have.  However, please remember that the food will be different to what you are used to eating in the US. Families do not eat much red meat or sea food as, although they are middle class, they have a more restricted household budget. Also, many Spaniards are not accustomed to eating a lot of vegetables. Lunch is the main meal and for dinner they will serve you a lighter meal.


Your host family will wash your laundry once a week. Normally, for girls, your family will have you wash your own under garments.


This is an EXAMPLE of a typical weekday. Some classes start earlier or later than listed below.

8:00 AM        Wakeup and have breakfast

8:45 AM        Walk to school

9:00 AM        Classes begin

10:45 AM         Mid-morning break

11:15 AM        Return to class.

1:00 PM        Classes end. Check email, visit shops, write in your journal, hang out with friends

2:30 PM         Lunch with your host family

3:30-6:00 PM        Siesta

7:00 PM         Meet for a cultural activity


You will study at the Centro de Lenguas Modernas (CLM), which is the language department for the University of Granada. You will find that the teaching style in other countries is different than what you are used to in the US. If you have any concerns or questions about this when you are in Granada, please ask your director! Our directors are always available for tutoring and any other assistance you may need concerning the academic component of the program. For the program in Granada, classes are typically from 9 AM -1 PM or 5 PM -9 PM.  For those doing any elective classes these can be taught at any part of the day. There is always a break between classes. There is a café at school to get snacks and beverages between classes. The language department is located in the heart of historical Granada. There are two buildings. The main building is housed in the old palace of Santa Cruz (16th century) which has been specially restored for teaching purposes. The other building is a restored “Carmen”, or typical Andalucía home that was first used by the Arabic culture hundreds of years ago. It is a beautiful building with a garden-like setting.


Your director is there to help you with many aspects of the program! Their main duties include:

Director availability: Your onsite director will be available at your school before & after classes every single day of the first week. After that, your director will normally be available every other day at school and during activities and excursions.  Your onsite director will always be available via an


Spain is a relatively safe country but the normal precautions should be taken. In the summer you should be wary of sunburn and dehydration.


You should never carry around large amounts of cash, your passport, or credit cards unless you have to! In the crowded touristy areas of Madrid you should be wary of pickpockets. In Granada, you should avoid the gypsies begging in a few of the tourist areas. They will try to read your palm, or give you rosemary. These can be ploys to pick your wallet! Despite our warnings, every summer students get pick pocketed.  Guys, NEVER keep money in your back pocket.


Students have gotten digital cameras and laptops stolen in Granada. Never leave things unlocked and try to keep valuable items out of sight when walking around town or if you leave them at your home. Never be too trusting!


Women should avoid unwanted attention. It is not customary in Spain to smile at people you do not know. Spanish men could interpret this the wrong way. Never walk home alone at night. Cabs are very inexpensive in Spain, whenever in doubt just pay the 3 or 4 euros and take a cab. Avoid walking in large groups of foreigners. Use the buddy system especially at night!


While with Sol Education Abroad you have the option of using your own health insurance or using the Sol Education Abroad policy (included in your program price). If your insurance provider DOES cover you internationally, make sure to only use your policy and not ours (insurance companies do not allow you to have two policies). If your insurance provider DOES NOT cover you internationally, make sure you specify this in the form called "Insurance Verification". Sol Education Abroad’s insurance policy will cover absolutely any medical expenses internationally up to USD $50,000 with MultiNational Underwriters. To verify your coverage, simply call your US insurance provider and tell them that you will be overseas and they will let you know whether or not you are covered internationally and the amount of coverage. Provide your insurance company the exact dates of the program in which you are enrolled. Get the details from them in the event you need to go to the doctor while abroad. If you do use the Sol Education Abroad insurance please note that pre-existing conditions are not covered, so check with your domestic provider about this before leaving. If you take prescription medication with you make sure that you have a doctor’s prescription in the event that customs officials question you about it. This is rare, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared.


Maps will be given to all students once in Spain for Madrid and Granada. Below are maps for the location of the University of Granada, a map of Granada city and a map of Granada Province.

"Spain Map" City: Granada, Country: Spain, Author: Sol Education Abroad.

"Granada Providence" City: Granada, Country: Spain, Author: Edantur.

"Granada Map" City: Granada, Country: Spain, Author: Turismo de Granada.

"University Map" City: Granada, Country: Spain, Author: Universidad de Granada.

Safe travels! And see you in Spain!

the Sol Education Abroad team

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