Frequently Asked Questions
(Rev. Oct. 23, 2014)
How can we get information about the Barcelona – San Francisco Exchange Program?
Your son / daughter can get information from the exchange program coordinators or their Spanish teacher at Saint Ignatius. You can also obtain some more information on the SI website.
When is the deadline to submit the application form?
Applications will be collected in January. This gives us some time to read the applications, interview the applicants, make the final selection, make the travel arrangements for the SI group and inform the coordinators in Barcelona.
Is there any financial aid available?
Unfortunately there is not any financial aid at this time. Other exchange programs organized by other high schools in the country may have some assistance but SI does not yet. Our school believes that these international experiences are a very important part of the educational experience and we may have financial aid in the future.
What places will the SI group visit while in Barcelona?
Besides visiting some of the highlights of Barcelona, students will visit important Ignatian sites such as Manresa and the Monastery of Montserrat. Every summer students visit many different places that may include small villages on the Mediterranean including Sitges and other beaches in Costa Brava, Salvador Dali’s museum in Figueres, and the Pyrenees Mountains. These are some of the trips they may do with the coordinators in Barcelona, SI faculty, chaperones, or their host families.
What is included in the price?
The price covers the cost of the plane ticket to Barcelona, travel and medical insurance, tours and some outings organized by SI chaperones and/or coordinators in Barcelona, international ID card and a guide book of Barcelona. Also, those monies will help to cover some of the outings we will have when the Catalan delegation is with us. In the past, we’ve done tours in the city, taken ferries to Sausalito, visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Carmel and have gone to many other places with all costs covered.
Why is this program so much cheaper than many others?
It is very simple, we do not make any profit and we never have. We make all the arrangements ourselves, students do not stay in hotels but at homes with families from the Sant Ignasi - Sarriá community.
Do the students travel accompanied by SI faculty members?
Sometimes they do travel with a chaperone from SI but most times they travel on the plane without an adult and the coordinators and host families will be waiting for them at the airport in Barcelona.
Can your son/daughter change host families while in Barcelona?
No, your son/daughter will not be able to change host families while in Barcelona. The coordinators in Barcelona will assign a host family and your son/daughter is expected to stay with that family for the whole 4 week period.
Can I use my own miles to purchase the plane ticket to Barcelona?
No, you can not. We make all reservations with STA Travel and we want all students on one electronic ticket. This way if flights are changed all students are guaranteed to travel together.
When do we have the exact dates of travel?
We try to have the exact dates by the end of February or early March so families have time to plan their summers. We contact the travel agent to make reservations as soon as permission slips and checks are collected.
How much weight is allowed in the suitcase?
It usually is 50 pounds for international flights. You should check this as soon as you have the plane ticket to verify the exact amount. Be sure you do not go over because it can be very expensive. Also remember to leave room for things they may buy in Spain. Be sure that students bring only one suitcase and a small carry on.
What is International ID card?
The International ID card will be their identification while in Barcelona with a photocopy of their passport. Students can also get many discounts when presenting this ID. You may check this link for more information: www.isic.org.
Do students need to carry their passports while they are in the city?
No, they should not. They should have a photocopy of their passport and their International ID card. They will only need their passport when at the airport or when doing transactions inside the bank.
Can we meet our son / daughter in Barcelona?
Yes!!! You may meet your son / daughter in Barcelona but we ask you to do that at the end of their stay with the host family.
Can we fly back together at a later day?
Yes!!!! Your family may stay a few more days in Europe and fly back all together to San Francisco. Please, be sure to let the coordinators know that before they make the flight reservations. You will directly contact the travel agent to make the final flight arrangements.
What happens if our family returns at a later date and the flight back costs more?
If the price increases the SI family will be responsible to pay the difference.
Do we need to issue a Visa?
A Visa to travel to Spain is not required if your son/daughter holds a United States passport. Homeland Security has some new requirements so be sure that the passport will not expire within 90 days after the return date.
What about medical insurance?
Students will travel with their own family insurance. They will also have a separate medical and travel insurance with STA Travel. This insurance is already included in the price.
What are the languages spoken in Catalonia?
They have both Spanish (Castilian in Spain) and Catalan. Catalan is a romance language and has many similarities to both Spanish and French.
What credit cards are recommended to use?
We recommend Visa. MasterCard and American Express are also accepted in many stores but sometimes because commissions are higher, these two will be rejected.
What about ATM cards?
We highly recommend ATM cards so students can get money when they need it. You should check with your bank to be sure that the card will be operative while in Spain. Also, check the PIN number because ATM’s throughout Spain have a four-digit number.
Can my son / daughter use their cell phone while in Spain?
You should contact your provider. International phone calls in Spain can be very expensive and we recommend students use Skype with their iPads or laptops or purchase a local cell phone during their first few days. Students have done this in the past and it seems it is the best option for them to call their Catalan families and “brothers” and “sisters.” The prices vary but some are as low as 20 or 25 Euros.
What about alcohol in Spain?
The legal age is 18 years but many teenagers drink because this law is not being strictly enforced. Alcohol is very easy to access. This exchange program is sponsored by Saint Ignatius and drinking alcohol is NOT permitted. If coordinators are notified that students were consuming alcohol, SI students will be sent home at the family’s expenses.
How much money should they have for personal expenses?
We recommend students travel with no less than 10 Euros per day for personal expenses. This means that SI students should have at least 300 Euros to enjoy the many activities the city has to offer. If you are planning to buy clothes you should bring much more because clothing can be very expensive.
Do I need any adaptors?
Yes!!!! You will need to purchase an adaptor because the sockets used in Europe are different than the ones we use here. Also, remember that current is 220 v and not 110 v. You may purchase these adaptors at RadioShack, Target, Best Buy,... These are really easy to find in Barcelona so do not worry if you forget it at home.
When does the Catalan group come to San Francisco?
Usually the Catalan group gets to San Francisco one or two days before the first day of classes in August. You will be receiving a letter from SI as soon as we receive this information from the coordinators in Barcelona. You will also receive information about their flights.
Where do we meet the students coming from Barcelona?
We always meet them at San Francisco International Airport (SFO.) You should check the flight status two or three hours before their arrival and meet them at the terminal. The coordinators from Saint Ignatius will be there too.
Do these students from Barcelona need to take classes at SI?
Absolutely yes!!! This is a big part of the experience. They will benefit not only from improving their speaking and listening comprehension skills in English but also how different the school systems are between Europe and the U.S.
What classes do they take?
They will have three of the same classes as your son / daughter and they will select another two or three classes they are interested in. We always try to place them in English, Religious Studies and a Spanish classes and they choose the rest. We encourage them to take classes that they would most likely not have in Barcelona. Some of these classes are: Astronomy, Drama, Music Appreciation, Multimedia Design, World Religions, Engineering or Photography.
What do we need to do about lunches?
You should probably talk to the student to find out what his / her preference is. If the student wants to bring his / her own lunch from home, you should provide it. This does not mean that you have to prepare it alone, they should be able to help you out. If they prefer to eat at the cafeteria they should pay from their own money.
What activities will be organized by the school while they are in San Francisco?
We’ve done many different activities in the past including tours of the city, taking the ferry to Sausalito, camping trips in Yosemite National Park, Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo, Sacramento, Monterey and Carmel. We will ask them what their preference is and we will go from there. We try to organize two or three activities while they are with us. Your family will do the rest.