Here in Spain, like in other countries, you might encounter safety problems. We recommend that you take precaution and would like give you some advice that may be very useful:
Do not leave your luggage unattended at the airport, railway station or bus station.
Do not leave your bag unattended in bars, restaurants or in other public places and be careful in the streets, especially if you are wearing a backpack.
Keep your documents, credit cards or money in a safe place. If possible leave them at the apartment or residence.
In case of theft, inform the police, the host family and Olé Barcelona immediately.
Do not leave objects of personal value in the classrooms or around the school. Olé Barcelona will not be held responsible for any lost, stolen or disappeared effects.
The Spanish currency is the European Euro. Foreign currency can always be exchanged for euros at a bank or money exchange.
Spain uses 220 Volts. Additionally, wall sockets and plugs may differ from your home country. For this reason we recommend that you bring an adaptor from your country
A lot of people in Spain use the public transport system; being in most cases the most convenient, fast and cheap way to travel.
If you would like to travel by train and need information about the timetable and destinations you can call for information at 902 24 02 02 or also find it on the web: www.renfe.es.
For information about bus trips, you should check the local bus station’s website.
When you need to mail letters or postcards, use the yellow mailboxes on the streets. For urgent letters you can use the red mailboxes or take them to one of the post offices. (There is usually one in every neighborhood). You can buy stamps in the tobacco shops, kiosks or at the post office. The prices are the same for postcards and letters as long as you don’t exceed the limits for weight and size.
Most shops are open daily from 9:00-10:00 AM to 2:00-2:30 PM and from 5pm until 8:00-8:30 PM. Some establishments like EL CORTE INGLÉS, are open from 10:00 AM until 10:00 PM.
Opening hours may differ slightly from winter to summer. On Sundays stores are usually closed.
Embassies, ministries and official organizations are usually only open in the morning until 2:00 PM.
Service is usually included in the bill. But it is customary to leave a tip between 5% and 10% of the total price. Remember that it is not mandatory to tip, but is recommendable when there is an established custom of doing so.
The social life in Spain is very active. People go out for dinner with friends or go to the movies or the theater, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. There is a huge variety of restaurants, cinemas, theater, exhibitions, concerts and many other possibilities for a nice night out.
You can find information about where to go and when in the city guides or in the newspapers. If you need help don’t hesitate to ask at the Olé Barcelona information desk.
Many of the Spanish habits are probably different from those in your country. As following we will give you a rundown of how the Spanish are used to doing things:
One of the first things that might surprise you when you arrive in Spain could be meal times. They usually eat breakfast between 7:30 AM and 9:30 AM. It is not a very big breakfast and usually consists of milk, coffee or juice and toast or croissants. Around 11:00 AM they can have another coffee, or a juice with something sweet or a salty bite to eat.
Another thing that might be different from other cultures is how the Spanish approach and treat people while talking. They might surprise you with more excessive body language, patting you on the back or gesticulating a lot. This is just a part of being civil and how they show kindness and not necessarily a demonstration of real friendship.
Another thing you will notice is that the Spanish have a tendency to speak very loudly in public places like restaurants, bars, etc. This custom is a part of the Latin character that pervades the personality of the Spanish.
In addition to this there will probably be many small things that will surprise you. Try to learn how things work and take advantage of the opportunity you are presented with living in a new country in order to acquire a greater knowledge, not only of the language, but also of the different culture and traditions of other people.