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Students FAQ

Here are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions by Students. If you have any questions that we did not address here or elsewhere on the website please feel free to contact us by email or phone. 

Where is the AIM Madrid Center?

The AIM Madrid center resides in the fashionable Salamanca District of Madrid.  It is located in International House, a world-renowned language center, serving students from many countries. It is close to the famous Prado museum, and near the Alonso Martinez metro stop.  Madrid is truly one of the world’s most exciting cities.

AIM students will have the AIM Madrid center as their advising and support base.  The classrooms in which most of your courses will be taught are conveniently located in and around the AIM center.


Who is the local staff?

AIM’s International Programs Team staffs the AIM center in Madrid. They are true experts in their field, and you’ll find them to be a great resource on many Spanish subjects- from the best place for churros con chocolate, to the directions to the closest metro station.


How will I get to class?

Like many Madrilenos you will walk, take the metro or take a local bus.  The International Programs Team will give you more specific information regarding the closest public transportation route to your classes at the in-country orientation.


Many programs include monthly metro-passes. These passes will be distributed at the orientation once in country.  If your program does not include a metro-pass, you may want to consider purchasing one yourself. This can be done at most metro stations.


Where will I live?

AIM students reside in either a home stay with a Spanish family, or in typical Spanish apartments scattered throughout the city.  Please see your program coordinator for specific details regarding your program’s housing option.


Madrid home stays are located in the city, but usually not in the downtown area but they are centrally located.  Your home stay will often include breakfast and dinner.   Keep in mind that houses in Spain are generally much smaller than what you are used to in the United States and you will most likely be expected to share the bathroom facilities.

Student Apartments

Madrid apartments will be located throughout the city, within 40 minutes of the AIM center by public transportation. Again, Madrid is a large metropolitan area, and you probably will not be right in the heart of the city. Your apartment will have 1 – 3 bedrooms, which will be shared by other students on the program. All apartments will have a kitchen, bathroom, and living space and generally will be much smaller than what you might expect in the United States.

You will receive information about your housing approximately 2 weeks prior to departure.


Do student accommodations have telephones?

Student apartments in Spain do not have landlines. Internet cafes often have good deals on international calling, and students have also begun using resources such as Skype on the Internet to place international calls.  You will have access to Internet in your apartments and home-stays.  Do keep in mind that internet connections can be slower than back at home and sometime lines can fail and it can take a few days for them to be back up and running.


If you are living with a host family, it may not be appropriate for you to use their telephone, as even local calls are not free.  Please review the household telephone rules with your host family upon your arrival. 

You can rent a mobile phone through our recommended provider. You will receive information about cell phone rental in your pre-departure pack, as well as have the option of renting one once you arrive overseas.


It is free to receive incoming calls on the AIM recommended mobile phone while in Madrid, but be aware of roaming charges as well as the rates on outgoing international calls.


How will I do my laundry?

You will have a washer in your apartment.  You will most likely have to line-dry your clothes as dryers are not a standard inclusion in most Madrid apartments. 

If a home stay includes laundry services, you may find that the home only has a washer and your clothing will be line-dried outside. Your laundry will be done at most once or twice per week. Plan appropriately for the extra time your laundry may take when packing.


Where can I receive mail?

We suggest that you have mail and packages sent directly to the AIM center in Madrid, with your name and the school that you attend clearly marked on the outside of the package or letter. You can find this address in your pre-departure packet that you will receive before departing for Madrid. Please be advised that when receiving packages from overseas, the sender must elect to assume all associated charges in shipping, including any customs fees. Failure to do so could delay or prevent you from receiving a package.


Can I have overnight guests?

No guests are allowed in AIM housing. The AIM staff will be happy to provide you with a list of inexpensive options for your friends or family. 


If you are living in a home stay, please be advised that most host families prefer that you not have guests at any hour of the day. Please be courteous of this, and arrange for visits with friends in outside locations.


When arranging for visits from friends and family members, we suggest that you utilize the services of STA. STA travel can assist you in finding lodging close to the AIM center within your specific budget. For more information call STA at (800) 224-0371.


Is the electricity the same as in North America?

No, the voltage in Spain is 220. It is advisable to bring both plug adapters and voltage converters with you, as it is more expensive to purchase them in Spain.


What is the weather like?

Madrid is located in the heart of Spain on a central plateau. As a result of this, weather patterns can vary extremely. Summer days can be sweltering, rising into the 90s. The evenings will cool off a bit, but even so, the summers in Spain are no joke. Be prepared for strong sun, you will definitely want sunscreen!


Winters are not as cold as in Northern Europe, and snow is unusual. In recent years, however, the weather has been more erratic, and Madrid has experienced dustings of snow on a number of occasions. Snow or no snow, you will want to bring a warm jacket.


Spring and fall are ideal and temperate. Madrid is at its most comfortable during these periods, ranging from the high 60s to low 80s.


What clothes should I bring?

A good pair of walking shoes is essential.  Remember that you will most likely be doing a lot more walking than at home. A warm jacket is important outside of summer, but a lighter jacket can be useful on some summer evenings. Remember that you may want to buy clothes in Spain so don't over-pack!


Spain operates differently than the United States in regards to clothing sales- During January and February, and again in June and July, many clothing stores hold month long “rebajas”. These are huge sales, basically to clear out last season’s inventory. It may be the only time you’ll see a clothing sale in Spain, but it’s a fantastic time to shop! The savings are unbeatable.



How much money should I bring?

Spending habits vary greatly from student to student – for example students living in apartments will need to budget appropriately for food and toiletries. It’s always wise to err on the side of caution, we generally recommend that students bring at least $140 per week. The frequency with which you travel, eat in restaurants, and go out in the evenings will determine your weekly expenditures.


In the AIM student handbook, you will find a “Do – It – Yourself” budget for Madrid. Fill it in prior to departing the United States and bring it with you. After the first week and a half, check your actual spending against this budget to figure out if your habits will leave you with enough money to get through the program, and adjust accordingly.


What form of currency should I bring?

Diversify, diversify, diversify. In today’s day and age, you’ll find that an ATM card with a credit option will get you just about anywhere you need to go. Remember, however, that in the event your wallet gets lost or stolen, you are high and dry until you can replace that card. We recommend that you bring a modest amount with you in traveler’s checks (approximately $150). Set them aside as an emergency only fund when you arrive in country. Be aware that you’ll need a photo id to cash traveler’s checks at most locations, and they aren’t accepted everywhere.

If you bring your ATM card overseas, be certain to talk to a representative at your bank to make sure that your card has international capabilities.  Also find out about any other steps you might need to take before using your card overseas. If your pin is longer than 4 digits, ask your bank representative what pin you’ll use overseas. European ATMs operate off of a 4 – digit pin system. Almost all ATMs will add a fee for international transactions.

You may want to get a credit card with a low credit line before going abroad as well. To keep better track of your spending, we’d recommend you use it in case of an emergency ONLY.

As many airports don’t offer the best exchange, you might want to get some euro (50 – 100 euro) from your local bank before leaving the US. This might come in handy in case you need to take a taxi to the AIM center or your housing.


Should I open a bank account?

No, most students have no need to open a bank account in Madrid. Please note that you do not have to have an account to receive a wire transfer from home at Spanish banks.


Are there Internet facilities? Should I bring my laptop?

There are computer facilities with wireless Internet access at the AIM center. There are many Internet cafes throughout the city. Either of these options should suffice to keep you in touch with friends and family at home. Please be advised that the computers at the AIM center as well as at many Internet cafes are set up for basic web surfing and may be a bit slower than what you’re used to. 

Bringing a laptop is a personal decision. AIM does not require the use of a laptop for anything. Be advised that if you do bring a laptop, you may want to purchase additional insurance in the event that it breaks or is stolen.  

What happens if I get sick?

Madrid has excellent doctors and medical facilities. All AIM students are required to come with medical and travel insurance.

We work closely with Hospi Quality they are a medical assistance provider that works with most U.S. medical insurance providers.                                                                                                                                         

  • Hospi Quality offers 24 hr. emergency service specialist

  • Latest technical equipment

  • On spot translation services during medical consultation (no extra cost)

  • Direct Billing to your medical/travel insurance

  • General support to patients and escorts in the native language


For minor symptoms, you’ll find that it may be helpful to solicit healthcare advise from a local pharmacist first. This is commonly done in Madrid, and you’ll find it to be a quicker and more efficient way to receive care. Pharmacies are easily located by the green neon cross sign on the front of them.


Should I bring any medication?

If you are taking prescription medication you should bring enough for your stay in Spain. Remember to keep any medication in its original packaging and bring this in your carryon luggage.


We recommend that you get a note from your doctor explaining the medication that you’re taking, as well as the generic name of the medication. Hold onto this in the event that you have any issues with your prescription or need to obtain more medication for any reason. It can be difficult to have medications shipped overseas.


If you are currently in counseling, you may want to set up weekly phone calls with your counselor. AIM can provide you with a list of local counselors and psychologists, or your own psychologist may have some connections overseas.


What will I eat?


As it’s located so close to France and Italy, two leaders in the culinary world, Spanish cuisine is often overlooked, but it is certainly delicious. A country of many diverse regions, Spain’s flavors all come together in Madrid- from Valencia’s paella to the seafood of Galicia and everything in between. Spain is of course most known for it’s tapas – small portions of Spanish food generally served in bars. Many Spaniards make a meal of tapas, going from bar to bar until all hours of the morning.


Spaniards eat a late breakfast, and it’s usually a light one- a cup of espresso and yogurt, or something comparable. Lunch is the largest meal of the day, served right before the Spanish siesta. It usually consists of a two courses- soup, stew, or a pasta/rice dish, and the second course is generally meat. Bread accompanies every meal and is a staple. Dinner is light and eaten late, around 9 or 10 in the evening.


As Madrid is an international center, if you are cooking for yourself, you should be able to find a diverse array of foods in local markets, and larger supermarkets.


Please be forthcoming about any dietary restrictions you might have on your AIM application, especially if you are living with a host family. AIM will always do it’s best to accommodate these needs, but be advised that you may need to purchase some grocery items yourself if they will not be used by the host family.


When can I travel and what are the holidays for my program?


Please speak with your program coordinator for the specific dates of holidays during your program, such as semester breaks or long weekends. As these vacation dates can be subject to change, we suggest that you not make any lengthy travel arrangements until you arrive in country.


Your weekends can also be used to travel. European train and bus systems are extensive. Discount flight carriers have also grown in popularity. Although these flights aren’t always reliable and have rigid luggage weight limitations, they are a very convenient way to travel on the weekends. Check out,, and to name a few.


How will I get to know the locals?


You will not be taking classes with local students. The AIM center is not affiliated with a University in Madrid. You will, however, find that AIM’s activities will provide you with many opportunities to immerse yourself in local culture. Additionally, the AIM International Programs Team can recommend a number of individual opportunities, such as volunteering, cooking classes, or language exchanges that you may want to get involved in overseas. Ultimately, the study abroad experience is as rich as you want it to be. The more you put into it, the more you will take away.


How can I find out more on how to prepare? 

The US government has created a very useful website for students preparing to study abroad.  It contains information on obtaining travel documents, staying healthy and knowing what to do in an emergency, safety tips, how to find the nearest embassy, how to vote while overseas, and more.  Visit their website at:

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