Loyola University Maryland

International Programs

Alcala: Information for Parents

Program Director

Kaileigh Jolliffe
Assistant Director
Office of International Programs
Ph: 410-617-2910

Thank you for your interest in our study abroad programs! The goal of this page is to help you better understand the Alcalá Semester study abroad program and highlight distinguishing features and components that will interest you as a parent. More detailed and updated information are given to your son or daughter in information sessions, academic reviews, workshops, and predeparture orientations. Once you read this information, we strongly encourage you to discuss this with your son/daughter first. Please know all information is given to the students and we ask students to share all of this with you. 

Sending students abroad is a partnership with students, parents and university and program officials. We realize that you will have questions and if our website or son/daughter cannot answer those questions, we will be happy to discuss the study abroad process and program information with you. However, due to the FERPA federal regulation, we will not be able to discuss specific information regarding your son/daughter; however, if your son/daughter is willing to sign a waiver form indicating the specific information to be shared with you, we will be more than happy to discuss specific matters regarding your son/daughter.

We hope you find this information helpful in assisting your son/daughter to accomplish his or her goal of learning, living, and serving abroad. We look forward to working with you and your son/daughter.

Travel to Alcalá

Roundtrip airfare is included with this program. Students will travel together.  Loyola University Maryland uses Alice Wilcox at Frosch Travel International (410-433-9300). She also can be reached by email at alice.wilcox@frosch.com.

Students fly in and out of Barajas International Airport in Madrid, Spain. Alcala is about one hour outside of Madrid. Students are met at the airport by our on-site director and they travel together by bus to Alcala with their luggage to meet their host families.

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.


Historically, students fly United Airlines and leave from Newark International Airport in New Jersey. Usually, students fly nonstop to Madrid, and the flight can take about 7-8 hours. Flights going over to Europe normally leave the East Eoast in the early to late evening.

It is very important that your student be checking 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 as your student prepares to go is highly suggested.

On-Site Support

Loyola has an on-site director that 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.

Maria Jose has an excellent relationship with the University of Alcala, the host families and the professors that work with the Loyola students. Maria Jose has an assistant, Eva, that works with her on a part-time basis and takes care of a lot of the group’s logistics and anything else that may come up.

Students are given both Maria Jose’s and Eva’s cell phone numbers upon arrival so that students can reach them at all times, especially in case of an emergency.

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 the 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 your students to contact you immediately upon arrival. It is normal to feel nervous and apprehensive, but please give them time to get their bearings and get to a phone or computer to contact you. Remember that no news is good news!

Housing in Alcalá

The program in Alcala de Henares uses the host family housing option. These host families have been carefully and thoroughly interviewed and chosen by our language institute, which is part of the University of Alcala de Henares. Host families are diverse and can vary from a single mom to an older couple to a retired woman. Students fill out a housing preference sheet that covers various preferences for their living situation in Alcala. That questionnaire is used when placing your student with their respective family.  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. Students eat at least two meals a day with their host family and that gives them the ability to practice their Spanish and see and live the daily life of Spaniards.

The host families are in the city of Alcala, and students are close to their classes, closer to the train station and to the airport. As mentioned above, 10 meals a week are included, except during weekends. Students have the option of living alone or in pairs. Bedding is provided by your homestay. If students require additional bedding or towels, these can be purchased cheaply at Carrefour.


The city of Alcala de Henares is located 30 kilometers northeast of Madrid on the Castilian Plateau. It is best known as the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, author of the well-known and celebrated Don Quixote. Ignatius of Loyola studied at the University of Alcala de Henares. Our students study at an institute hosted within this same university. Students have the benefit of living in a small quaint Spanish town as well as being right outside one of the largest cities in Spain.

Criteria for Acceptance

For the Loyola study abroad program in Alcala, students must have a minimum of 2.75 CQPA. They should apply to Loyola’s Office of International Programs by December 4 (Wednesday after Thanksgiving break) of their sophomore year in order to be considered for fall or spring semester spots in their junior year. Disciplinary records from the Loyola's Office of Student Life are taken into consideration when reviewing applications. Students should mark down second and third choices in the event that we cannot offer them a spot in the Alcala program. There are 30 available spots for the each semester. Lastly, it is required that students find at least five classes in this program that fit into their Loyola degree program. 


This is a fully packaged program with:

  • Tuition and housing;
  • Breakfast and dinner five days a week with homestays;
  • An on-site director (Maria Jose Lopez Pozo);
  • University medical coverage (Sanitas);
  • Cultural excursions and a few special meals in Spain; and 
  • Group service project in Spanish school for fall program.


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+

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.

If your student is interested in opening a bank account, he/she 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.


For Loyola students partaking in the Alcala program, tuition and housing is paid to Loyola as if your student was staying on campus. The Student Administrative Services office will send the Loyola University semester bill. Please make sure all payments are made. Late payments will result in a financial hold and can impact a student for their academic registration. If you have any questions please call Yvette McMillan-Bell at 410-617-2532.

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 for your child’s study abroad semester. 


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.

Your student is 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 your son or daughter attends his/her 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.

**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.