FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
Is there an application deadline?
Applying early is a good idea, but we are flexible about deadlines. Please inquire if you have more questions about this topic.
Are there other forms, transcripts, interviews, essays or recommendations as part of the application process?
Yes, there are a few other forms required, e.g. a health questionnaire, and we do seek recommendations from the advisors, mentors or teachers you mention in your application. No transcripts are required. There are no lengthy essays to submit. Personal interviews are not required.
A background check from your local police Department is strongly recommended for many community service activities. Contact us for details.
PASSPORTS, VISAS, STUDENT CARDS
Passports, visas, student cards: Do I need a passport?
Yes, you need a passport and it should be valid for three months beyond the end of the El Casal session.
Do I need a student visa?
Passports, visas, student cards: Besides my passport, do I need to bring other IDs or documents to Spain?
In addition to the background check mentioned above, we urge you to bring a photo ID from your current school, even if it’s expired or will expire soon.
ABOUT HEALTH AND ACCIDENT INSURANCE
What about health and accident insurance?
You will be covered under a no-deductible policy issued by a US-based insurance company. It’s included in the tuition. Details are available upon request.
MONEY AND BUDGETS
How much spending money do I need?
Tough question! People’s spending habits vary widely. Perhaps your biggest out of pocket expense will be lunch, which is not included in the cost. Lunch and the occasional snack will run you about 8 to 15 euros per day. Any overnight travel (excluding el Casal-led trips) could also add to your expenses.
THE LIVING SITUATION, HOST FAMILIES, LOCATION IN BARCELONA
Does everyone live with a host family?
Yes. A family takes care of your needs (a room of your own, 2 meals a day, laundry, safety, companionship) so that you are free to explore and go about your other activities. The host family interaction is usually key to improving your Spanish. The families are also a great resource about Barcelona: where to go, how to get there, what to do when you get there. All our families live in central Barcelona –not outlying towns or suburbs– with easy access to public transportation.
Is there a curfew?
Will I have a key to my home and be able to come and go as I please?
Yes and yes.
Will my family have internet access?
What if my host family situation is unsatisfactory?
We will act at once to deal with any issues that may arise between you and your family. Family placements will be changed in the face of irresolvable problems.
PROGRAM DATES AND CALENDAR
When does each session start and end?
The fall session begins on or around September 15th and ends on or around December 15th.
The winter-spring session begins on or around January 15th and ends on or around April 15th. Please contact us for specific calendar information for the session you are interested in: firstname.lastname@example.org
LEVEL OF SPANISH
How good does my Spanish have to be by the time I apply?
Nearly all El Casal participants have had 3 or 4 years of high school Spanish, but we gladly accept students with less exposure or beginners with no Spanish at all. Motivation and effort are key factors in your progress with the language, no matter what your starting point is!
Are there grades in the courses? Is college credit offered?
There are no grades in the El Casal core courses. They are not accredited by any of the standard accreditation organizations, though your college may grant you credit or advanced standing; ask your college or university. The Spanish course at the university will award grades and will issue a certificate which attests to your Spanish language level based on the Common European Framework for Languages, which is gaining recognition in the US.
COMMUNITY SERVICE AND VOLUNTEERING
Does everyone have a community service or volunteer activity?
We think it’s good to give something back to the country and the people that have welcomed you as a guest for three months. So, ideally, we like to see everyone involved with the local community in one way or another. The extent of each participant’s commitment to these activities varies.
What typed of service activities are available?
We have a range of opportunities. Typical ones include: tutoring, working in after school programs with immigrant populations, environmental projects, food banks, assisting in homeless shelters, co-coaching in after-school recreational sports and helping out at an animal shelter.
OTHER THINGS TO DO
Will I have opportunities to participate in other activities in my free time, such as dance classes, guitar lessons, sports or gyms?
Yes, and we encourage you to participate in those sorts of things –though they are not part of El Casal’s program– and meet local people. We will happily assist you in finding activities to your liking.
What if I just want to explore my new environment, meditate or write poetry? Will I have time for myself or will all my days be highly structured?
Yes, you’ll have time for all those worthy pursuits! In our view, you shouldn’t be over-scheduled on your gap year.
For more information regarding the application process, paperwork, passports, specific calendar…