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Faq | Gap Year El Casal de Barcelona

  • Are there grades? Is college credit awarded?

    There are no grades, per se. A complete report on the time you spent with us in Spain, including your work in the seminars, is prepared and sent to you. It can also be sent to your parents, to your high school or your college, as you wish. El Casal cannot award college credit. Whether your college elects to award credit for any part of the program is something you should discuss with the college before you arrive in Spain.

  • If there are no grades and no academic credit, do I have to prepare for and attend classes?

    Yes. It is assumed that you want to fully participate in the Casal experience and that you want to get the most out of your time. Attendance and preparation are in your best interest. The program cannot function smoothly without your enthusiasm. We want the seminars to be stimulating and fun; your input will always be welcome!

  • Must I participate in the activities, day trips and the visits to places of interest in Barcelona?

    Many of these activities will be required, and we think you'll find that they contribute immeasurably to your overall experience. The principle applied here is the same as that for classes and other commitments: getting the most out of your time. You have to aprovechar, as we say in Spanish!

  • Is there a "certificate of attendance" or something like that?

    Yes, each student will receive a certificate for having successfully completed the program.

  • What's a typical day — or week — in Barcelona like?

    Monday through Thursday, you'll have about three hours of seminars in the morning. (Remember that it's "morning" in Spain until lunch time, about 1:30 pm!) Afternoons will be for your community service or other activities which you pursue on your own (an art class, for example). We will offer various evening activities, such as tapa tastings, films, and theater or concert performances. On most Fridays, we'll schedule group activities in Barcelona. We'll also take our full-day trips to places of interest in Catalunya on Fridays. Normally, you will have no program commitments on weekends, though optional activities will be offered.

  • How good does my Spanish have to be?

    You don't have to be fluent, by any means! Your effort and determination to improve your Spanish while you are in Spain will count for a lot, no matter how many years of Spanish you have studied in high school. Most applicants, however, will have had at least three years of study behind them.

  • Is the fact that Catalán is spoken in Barcelona going to be a problem in my adaptation?

    Not likely. First of all, you should know that Barcelona is a bilingual city; Castilian Spanish and Catalán are "co-official" languages and nearly everyone speaks both. Barcelona is a very cosmopolitan and multicultural city which attracts people from all over the world. On a typical day, you may overhear several languages being spoken on the street, not just Spanish and Catalán. Catalán is similar enough to Castilian Spanish so that you'll be able to understand street signs and lots of words right away. Don't underestimate your brain's ability to handle English, Spanish and Catalán all at once!

  • Will I have an opportunity to participate in other activities such as dance classes, guitar lessons and sports?

    We encourage you to pursue interests like these, though they are not part of the program. The Director will assist you in finding activities to your liking.

  • What if my host family situation isn't working out?

    The Director will use his good offices to work out any problems. Experience shows that, often, allegedly intractable problems are the result of miscommunication or minor cultural differences which can be successfully addressed. A family change will be made by the Director in the face of irresolvable problems.

  • Should I bring my laptop/i-pad to Barcelona?

    Yes, though it's not obligatory. If you're like most students abroad, you'll want to stay connected to family and friends and you may want internet connection for many practical reasons. We urge you, however, to limit your use of social media, Skype and downloaded/streaming films and TV series while abroad.

  • Should I get the International Student Card (ISIC)?

    The ISIC will get you discounts on travel and some entrance fees to museums and the like. It costs $22 but is only valid until Dec. 31 of the year in which it is obtained. You must be an enrolled full-time student; technically, you do not qualify if you are between high school and college. The International Youth Card gets you discounts, is good for a year from date of purchase and doesn’t require you to be a full-time student. Details at: www.istc.org. In terms of their usefulness, former El Casal students give these cards mixed reviews. If you travel a lot and are always visiting museums, etc. you may find them worthwhile. A better deal, in our opinion, is the Carnet Jove, a youth card available here for 6 euros. Former students found it worthwhile.

  • Should I apply for a student visa?

    No.

  • Do any El Casal students live in the suburbs?

    No. Everyone lives within the city proper. El Casal is centrally located and is easily reachable by public transportation (bus, subway) from your home. Bus/subway passes are included in the program cost. Barcelona is a “compact” city with very good public transportation. It’s easy to get around!

  • What about health insurance?

    It’s covered in the tuition through an American company which specializes in study abroad students. Once you are enrolled at El Casal, we sign you up for this insurance. The company will contact you and provide you with information and an ID card with your group and policy numbers.

  • How much spending money do I need?

    Tough question; depends on your spending habits. Remember that you have to buy your own lunch everyday (about 8 to 10 euros for a good meal in a café or restaurant) and pay for your cell phone calls. To start with, be sure you have extra money in your account for books and supplies, about $100.

Ready to do something different and exciting after high school?