The city of Alcalá de Henares is located 30 km northeast of Madrid on the Castilian Plateau. The city center remains predominately medieval with winding cobblestone streets and surrounding the city’s center square, Plaza de Cervantes. Alcala is best known as the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, author of the celebrated Don Quixote. The Universidad de Alcalá de Henares is considered one of the three best universities in Spain. Ignatius of Loyola studied at this university.
Choosing When to Study in Alcala
The fall and spring semesters offer very different opportunities for students to study in Alcalá. The fall semester program is open to Spanish majors and minors ONLY, while the spring semester program is available to non-Spanish majors/minors.
Fall Program (September to December)
- This program is designed to accommodate Spanish majors and minors. All courses are offered in Spanish. Please keep in mind that all Spanish majors and minors will need to take at least one additional Spanish course upon their return.
- A major objective of this program is to drastically improve students’ Spanish. The month of September, students will primarily focus on the Spanish Intensive Course. Once that concludes, students will then begin the semester with five classes to design to improve all aspects of the Spanish language and culture.
Spring Program (January to mid-May)
- This program is designed to accommodate mostly business students (however others may apply). Most courses are offered in English. Students must take at least one Spanish course.
- Students are required to take at least one course in Spanish.
This is a fully packaged program with:
- Tuition and housing;
- A full-time onsite program director;
- University medical fees;
- Cultural excursions and special meals in Spain;
- Evacuation insurance coverage;
- Home stays include 2 meals per day; and
- Group service project in Spanish School for fall program.
Students will be supported by our full-time director, Maria Jose Lopez Pozo, who has been with the program for more than 10 years. Maria Jose Lopez Pozo is a Madrid-based professor that not only works with our students on all aspects of their study abroad experience (questions, concerns, illnesses, and homestays) but also teaches one of the required courses for our students. She is assisted by a part-time assistant. Both Maria Jose and her assistant will help students get acclimated to their new surroundings and direct them to the appropriate personnel or office that can assist them with any questions they may have. Students are given both Maria Jose’s and her assistant's cell phone numbers upon arrival so that students can reach them at all times, especially in case of an emergency.
Fall Semester Program Courses / Spring Semester Program Courses
Students will experience a similar class style to what they have here at Loyola. However, students must be prepared for a more independent semester. Classes are more or less the same number of students that they have at Loyola (small seminar style classes) but more often than not, the grades consist of a midterm and final only.
The academic program for the fall semester and the spring semester greatly differ and the requirements vary for each semester. For both semesters, students must have a minimum CQPA of 2.75 and must maintain that CQPA while abroad.
The fall program is designed to accommodate Spanish majors and minors. Students must have taken Spanish 201: Conversation and Composition before going abroad, and we highly suggest that they complete Spanish 203 as well. All courses are offered in Spanish and students will take most of their courses in the language institute, Alcalingua, which is part of the University of Alcala. Loyola students are also required to take our on-site director’s course on the Spanish Civil War as well as a university literature course, where Loyola students will be in class alongside other Spanish students. Students will take the equivalent of five to six courses.
The spring academic program offers the majority of the classes in English and the majority of the classes are geared towards business students. There are no Spanish requirements for this semester, although it is recommended that students complete Spanish 104 before going abroad. Students can also find three of their upper core classes in the program. Lastly, it is a requirement that all students take the on-site director’s literature class.
All credits and grades transfer back to Loyola, they affect your GPA, and they appear on your Loyola transcript. Our office normally does not receive the fall semester transcripts from Alcala until March or April of the following semester (when students have returned to campus). This should be kept in mind when applying for summer internships and scholarships.
Alcalingua Language School
The grade equivalence table is:
8.5 – 10.00 = A
8.00 – 8.499 = A-
7.5 – 7.999 = B+
7.0 - 7.499 = B
6.5 - 6.999 = B-
6.0 - 6.499 = C+
5.5 - 5.999 = C
5.0 – 5.499 = D+
Integrated University Course
The grade equivalence table is:
8.0 – 10.00 = A
7.5 – 7.999 = A–
7.0 – 7.499 = B+
6.5 – 6.999 = B
6.0 – 6.499 = B–
5.5 – 5.999 = C+
5.0 – 5.499 = C
4.5 – 4.999 = D+
Disclaimer:In case of strikes or unexpected disruption to the academic semester Loyola University will work with the host university abroad to provide additional support or other academic arrangements to enable students to complete their coursework in agreement with the rules and regulations of the host university and the laws of the host country. Loyola University Maryland will not makes any changes to its course, grade, or credit transfer policies following such circumstances.
To assist students in their language and cultural development, students are required to live with a host family in Alcalá.
- Students may choose if they want to live alone or with another Loyola student.
- Families for the homestays are selected by the University of Alcalá, and Loyola has worked with the same families since the inception of the program. These host families have been carefully and thoroughly interviewed. Host families are diverse and can vary from a single mom to an older couple to a retired woman. Students do not find out their host families until about two weeks before they leave the United States. It is normal for students to feel a bit nervous about living with a host family, but the majority of students have come back saying it was their favorite part of their study abroad experience.
- Two meals per day are included as part of the homestay program, this gives students the ability to practice their Spanish and see and live the daily life of Spaniards.
- Laundry once a week is provided as part of the homestay program.
- Homestay arrangements will vary: single person, large or small families, etc.
- Please keep in mind that overseas housing is very different than housing at Loyola. Rooms are much smaller and may not have all the modern amenities U.S. housing may have.
- Loyola financial aid applies and students are eligible for consideration for all forms of federal, state, institutional and private sources of aid except the Federal Work Study Program. Students studying abroad for either a semester or full academic year will forfeit the value of a Federal Work-Study assignment.
- The cost is equivalent to the tuition, room charge and a reduced comprehensive fee paid to Loyola, plus a program fee. For Loyola students partaking in the Alcala program, tuition and housing is paid to Loyola as if the student was staying on campus. The Student Administrative Services office will send the Loyola University semester bill.
- There is a homestay fee, which is subject to change.
- Students’ expenses in Spain will vary greatly depending on how much they travel, shop, and go out at night. Most students will take advantage of the close proximity to other European countries and cheap airline tickets and travel, and that usually accounts for much of their spending. Being in a homestay, Alcala students are fortunate that 10 meals a week are provided by their host family, so that is a way for them to save during the week. The range for how much students spent overall in the past semesters was between $3,500-$9,000. This amount was all inclusive of entertainment, travel, food, going out, and shopping. One of the great benefits of being in Alcala is that it is a smaller town and not as expensive as a big city, like Madrid. The exchange rate (of the dollar to Euro) should be taken into account when planning finances.
Program Cost Estimates: Fall Semester Program / Spring Semester Program
A benefit of this program is that students have Spanish medical insurance while studying in Spain. Before students leave for their study abroad semester, we ask them to provide proof of their international coverage from their U.S. health insurance policy (either a letter from the insurance company or a printed copy of the international policy description from the policy's online manual). We are only asking for proof of overseas coverage for our liability. Loyola purchases Alcalá’s insurance, named Sanitas, for all students. It will cover medical consultations, hospitalization, surgery, and medicine during hospitalization, and medical assistance throughout Spain. It is important to realize that students are not covered outside of Spain, hence the necessity of having U.S. coverage in case of an emergency. Loyola also purchases emergency travel assistance services for our students through Chartis. This covers emergency travel assistance/evacuation and repatriation.
Loyola students are responsible for obtaining their own student visa. Students are required to attend a workshop during the semester before they go that is specifically dedicated to preparing the paperwork for their visa appointment. It is important that your student knows the requirements of the Spanish consulate where they will have their visa appointment. It is usually the Spanish consulate that is closest to their home address, and the sites most frequented by our students are Washington, D.C, New York, and Boston. Each student must make an appointment within 90 days of their departure date.
It is very important to note that when the student attends their appointment, they will be giving their passport to the consulate for them to process. The consulate will hold onto the passport until your student is called back to pick up the passport and the approved visa. The visa, which is placed in your passport, is good for 90 days upon your arrival in Alcalá. This is why the expiration date on your Spanish visa is earlier than your actual return date from Spain. María José obtains a Student Residency Card for each student which will extend their stay until their December departure. Loyola will pay for this card.
Money and Banking
You and your family will soon become experts at international banking transactions. You will want quick access to your funds, and you will also want to protect your money against loss. It is very important that students call their bank and credit card carriers to tell them that they will be abroad for the semester. If not, they will most likely freeze the account after the card’s first use, and it is not easy to get it "unfrozen" from abroad.
Students have the option of keeping their money in their American bank account while abroad and drawing from that as they see fit or opening a Spanish bank account. There are pros and cons to both ways. We do not recommend any particular American bank that will be easiest to use while in Spain. All ATM machines will for the most part accept any type of debit card. We highly suggest that you go and meet with your bank and get a full understanding of fees that are charged when using the account and/or the credit card abroad. Make sure your student’s money is in a checking account and not a savings account, and make sure they remember their pin. In terms of major credit cards, students should use Visa and MasterCard. American Express is most likely not accepted.
Students who are interested in opening a bank account will most likely need their passport, proof of their studies at University of Alcala, their visa, and money to open the account. The money should be deposited in cash as checks take a very long time to clear and the fees are very high. Upon arrival, Maria Jose will speak to the students about their options, and she could go with your students to open up their account.
Travel to and from Alcalá
- Group flights are arranged for students traveling to Alcalá. Student departures are usually from Newark International Airport in New Jersey on United Airlines. It is very important that students check the United Airlines website to make sure that their luggage complies with weight restrictions and number of bag restrictions. International flights are very strict about luggage size and weight and it is something that can change, so checking the website periodically is highly suggested. Usually, students fly nonstop to Madrid, and the flight can take about 7-8 hours. Flights going over to Europe normally leave the East Coast in the early to late evening.
- Students fly to Barajas International Airport in Madrid, where a motor coach with the director, Maria Jose Lopez Pozo, will pick up students and take them to meet their homestay families.
- You may contact Alice Wilcox at firstname.lastname@example.org to make any changes on the return ticket only. No changes will be made if it will jeopardize the group flight arrangements or cost.
- Students should carry with them: their passport with visa, money, ATM card, credit card, any prescription drugs they might need, and clothes for a day in case their luggage gets delayed.
Arrival to Spain and Alcalá
The group will arrive in the morning in Madrid. After going through customs, students will retrieve their bags and be met by Maria Jose, the onsite program director, with a bus. The group will travel together for the hour trip to Alcala, where their host families will be waiting to meet them for the first time. The next week will be an orientation period where students will have a chance to get to know Alcala, and usually will take their first group weekend trip with Maria Jose. Please remember that Spain is currently six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. It may be difficult for students to contact family immediately upon arrival. For parents, it is normal to feel nervous and apprehensive, but please give your students time to get their bearings and get to a phone or computer to contact you.
Criteria for Applying
- Open to students with a cumulative average of 2.75 or above;
- Attend an information session;
- Attend registration sessions to determine if your degree program matches the courses offered abroad;
- Students must declare a major before applying to the Alcalá program.
- Students who are undeclared will not be considered for the Alcalá program.
- Discuss with your major advisor the possible courses you could take abroad and see if there are any potential problems he/she sees with your plans to study in Alcala;
- Academic interviews will be based on current course offerings;
- Course offerings are limited in Alcalá, but they are guaranteed to be offered;
- Discuss with your family if taking a summer course(s) is an option to help with any unexpected academic problems that could occur at Loyola or abroad;
- Students cannot be on disciplinary probation nor have a history of serious disciplinary problems.
Students must submit an online application AND a Course Planning form by 11:59 pm the second Wednesday after Thanksgiving break of their sophomore year to study abroad in the fall or spring term of junior year. ROTC candidates can apply as freshman to study abroad in the spring of their sophomore year.
The fall program in Alcalá is designed specifically for Spanish majors and minors. Because of this, Spanish majors and minors must apply for the fall semester in Alcalá. Spanish majors and minors must have completed SN 201 (Spanish Conversation and Composition) prior to their semester abroad. All other majors/minors must apply for the spring semester.
Fall Program Online Application Spring Program Online Application
*Please keep in mind that study abroad information, dates, benefits, and fees are subject to change without notification. You are encouraged to contact the Office of International Programs directly for the most up-to-date information regarding any study abroad programs offered at Loyola.