​​​Affordable Summer Study Abroad Programs

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17. Can I receive mail while I'm abroad?
18. What if I have an emergency while I'm abroad?
19. Will there be MLSA staff on-site?
20. Will there be an orientation when I arrive?
21. Do I need a passport?
​ What if my passport is expiring soon?
22. How do I make my payments to MLSA?
23. How can I receive phone calls abroad?
24. Do I have to take a placement test?
25. How much spending money should I bring with me? Should I bring cash?
26. What rules am I expected to follow?
Why do I have to sign the behavior agreement?
27. Will I receive official transcripts? Will my credits transfer?
28. Do I need to receive approval from my advisor? What happens if the course offering changes?
29. Do I need a visa?

30. How to get a visa for programs over 90 days.

1. How do I apply?​
​2. What additional materials are required after I apply?
3. How to I get from the airport to my host family/residence hall?
4. Do I need to by my own airline ticket?
Can MLSA purchase the airline tickets for my group?
5. When should I arrive?
6. What is MLSA's cancellation policy?
7. Will the program fees change?
8. When is the deadline to apply?
9. Do you have any tips for packing?
10. Should I bring a credit card? Are there ATM's?
11. Which optional excursions are offered as part of the trip?
12. Will I be staying in a host family or in a residence hall?
Can I change housing during the program?
13. Do I need any shots or vaccinations?
14. Do I need health or travel insurance?
15. How do I obtain medical care abroad?
16. Can I apply late? What about late payments?

ALL PROGRAMS: Frequently Asked Questions

 ​1. APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS Initial applications will only be accepted and considered completed when they are submitted with the following materials:Application form completed with all information requested.Release & Agreement form legibly printed and signed.Be sure to include full name as it should appear in all the academic documentation AND two current email addresses (sometimes schools block our emails due to filters, AND EMAIL IS OUR MEANS OF COMMUNICATING ALL INFORMATION).Two current passport-size photos (head shot)$100 registration fee (non-refundable).

2. ADDITIONAL MATERIALS REQUIRED LATER $500 payment made two weeks after being accepted—and remaining payments made according to specific schedule.Housing & Medical form with first payment.Participant Behavior form legibly printed and signed.Copy of the first page of the passport (when available).Itinerary of flight arrangements: airline, flight number, place and time of arrival, NOT LATER THAN 35 days before program starts.

In Madrid, MLSA representatives will be at the Madrid Airport (MAD). Transportation from the airport in Madrid to the residences will be provided by MLSA buses for students arriving during the established arrival date and times scheduled. Students need to arrive at the airport no later than 2:00 pm; those arriving later than 2:00 pm must take a taxi to the residence. Students with homestays will be picked up by their families at the airport. About two weeks prior to departure, students will be informed by e-mail about the specific times, places, and sites at the airport to pick up the buses to the residences in Madrid.

In San José, Costa Rica, an MLSA representative will be at the Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) to greet you. MLSA buses will pick up students at specific times to take them to our MLSA Center (student will be informed of the specific place as the program gets closer) for families to take them home. For this service, students need to arrive at the airport no later than 6:00 pm. Those arriving later than 6:00 pm must take a taxi from the airport directly to their families. The taxi counter is just after you leave the baggage claim area but before you leave the airport (there will be a neon sign). Just give the address to the taxi driver at the counter and he will take you to your family for a fixed price (around $30). About two weeks prior to departure, students will be informed by e-mail about the specific times, places, and sites at the airport for pick up and how to arrange transportation on their own if need be.

In Florence, an MLSA representative will be at the Amerigo Vespucci Airport (FLR) to greet you. MLSA buses will pick up students at specific times to take them to the Centro di Cultura per Stranieri, Via Francesco Valori, 9, where information and directions for the shared apartments will be given to you. You must arrive at the airport by 7:00 pm at the latest. If you are arriving past 7:00 pm, you must take a taxi to the assigned residence and notify our office of your arrival time, so that the landlord will be there to hand over your keys. The fixed price for a cab from the airport to downtown is 20 euros.In Paris (then to Lyon), an MLSA representative will be at the Airport () to greet you.

Please note, students are responsible for their own transportation to the airport on the day of return to the United States.
Arrival services are exclusively for MLSA students—no exceptions.

4. AIR TRANSPORTATION – AIRFARE Students are responsible to purchase their own international air tickets, unless you travel with a specific sponsoring university or school group. Before purchasing the airline tickets, contact the MLSA office for travel support; they may be able to help you with valuable information about prices and airlines. MLSA can make air transportation arrangements for groups, but MLSA will only make travel arrangements for specific groups (not individuals) upon request.

5. ARRIVAL DATE Students need to arrive at their housing arrangements in Madrid, San Jose, or Florence on the specific date before the classes start, not before—no exceptions. Residences in Madrid house Spanish students. Families in Costa Rica may have another student in the house. Apartments in Florence and Lyon have a specific move-in date and must be vacated by 7:00 pm on the day after classes end. If you arrive before the designated date, you have to stay in a hotel or make other arrangements. You are responsible for your living arrangements before and after the established dates of the program. Please be sure to send our office flight information: name of the airline, flight number, and time of arrival 35 days before departure.

6. CANCELLATION AND REFUNDS POLICYCancellation from the program must be done in writing to MLSA, P. O. Box 548, Frankfort, IL 60423. Verbal cancellations will not be honored. The postmark of the U.S. Postal Service will be the effective determining date for all cancellations. The student agrees to accept the terms of the Refund Policy as outlined in the application and specified here. If a participant withdraws more than 60 days before leaving, he/she receives a full refund less $400. If he/she withdraws 59 to 30 days prior to departure, he/she receives a partial refund but the amount withheld will be at least $900 and may be considerably more. If 29 days or less prior to departure, participants will be refunded only 20% of total cost less the $100 non-refundable registration fee. NO REFUNDS WILL BE MADE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES OR ANY REASON for tuition, unused accommodations, meals, land transportation, hotels or other activities once the trip has begun. No reduction or refunds will be made for services not used by the student and no substitutions will be allowed for services not used. Services cannot be transferred to another person. We recommend the purchase of trip cancellation insurance.

7. CHANGES IN PRICES – PRICE GUARANTEE The program fees are based on rates in effect at the time of printing this brochure and are subject to change, without notice, due to possible increases in the cost, devaluation of currencies, or other reasons not under the control of the university. The prices will be guaranteed if complete payment of all program fees is made by February 15 (summer programs) and October 1 (winter program).

Costa Rica Summer I: Mar. 1
Costa Rica Summer II: Mar. 15
Spain / Complutense Summer: Mar. 15

Spain / Nebrija Summer I (June): Mar. 1
Spain / Nebrija Summer II (July): Mar. 15

Italy Summer: Mar. 15
​France Summer: Mar. 15

Costa Rica Winter: Oct. 30

Spain / Complutense Fall: June 15
Spain / Complutense Winter: Oct. 1
Spain / Complutense Spring: Dec. 1
Spain / Nebrija Fall: June 15
Spain / Nebrija Spring: Oct. 15

For groups, deadlines for applications and payments may vary—please check with your sponsor.

9. CLOTHING: READ &REMEMBER BEFORE PACKING It is difficult to provide a complete list of precisely what to pack. Make your list and eliminate all but the essentials. It is a good basic rule of thumb to pack as little as possible; the less you take, the less you have to keep track of! The less you have to carry, the happier you will be. Before departure, you will get a list of suggested items to pack.

10. CREDIT CARDS / ATM MACHINES We suggest you take with you some of the more universally well-known credit cards. Visa or MasterCard are the most commonly accepted in Costa Rica and Europe. There are ATM machines everywhere in Spain, Costa Rica, and Italy. You may wish to bring some dollars and travelers checks as well.

11. EXCURSIONS In Spain, MLSA will sponsor optional faculty-led academic excursions to cities, places important for their history, customs, art, architecture or national beauty: Toledo, Segovia, Avila, El Escorial. In Spain, information on specific excursions will be given by the teachers in the classroom a few days before each excursion takes place, and interested students may sign up in advance and pay at the office at the university. Each excursion includes transportation and faculty tour guide teachers who will usually accompany the groups. Sometimes students will pay a relatively minor entrance fee with the Universidad Complutense student ID card, if the excursions include visits to museum, monuments, etc. Transportation and seats are limited on a first-come, first-served basis if students want to participate for an additional cost.In Spain, there will also be offered a 3-day excursion to Burgos/ Pamplona/San Sebastian/Biarritz (France). Students will visit Castilla, stopping in Burgos to see one of the most beautiful gothic cathedrals in the world and follow the route of El Cid Campeador with reading on-site of the epic poem. After, they will continue to Pamplona to observe the running of the bulls and all the festivities. The next day students will travel to the south of France to spend a day at the beach in Biarritz. They will return to Madrid with a stop in Medinacelli, a medieval city and, if time allows, also stop in Numancia.In Florence, optional excursions to Venezia, Roma, Siena, and Tuscania will be offered on two Saturdays. Once in Florence, students will need to reserve their places before going.In Costa Rica, a cruise to the Tortuga Island and an excursion to La Paz Waterfalls are offered by MLSA. These optional trips provide an opportunity to see the natural beauty of the Costa Rican country and round out the experiences in the city of San Jose. An on-site director/tour guide will offer advice and suggestions for weekend excursions. In addition, a reliable travel agent will be on hand to offer weekend trips for interested students; these are optional, non-MLSA sponsored trips. In France, a guided excursion to Paris, visit to Avignon Festival, themed visits of Lyon and Discover Lyon are included.  Optional excursions to Annecy (near the Alps) or Marseille are available.Transportation and seats FOR ALL EXCURSIONS are limited on a first-come, first-served basis. Check on deadlines for specific excursions.

12. HOUSING All families are screened and evaluated every year by the students and the director of families in our office in Costa Rica. All families go through orientation to inform them about their responsibilities. All students must complete a Housing & Medical form where they list preferences, medical conditions, and special needs. The medical disclosure section is optional, though it is highly recommended that the students honestly answer all of the questions. The information that they provide will not disqualify them from participating in the program. The director of families will make all efforts to accommodate individual needs and preferences, but MLSA cannot guarantee to fulfill them all.Students need to arrive to the housing assigned (families, residences, apartments) on the specific day and time before classes start—NO EXCEPTIONS WILL BE MADE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.Students must vacate the university residences in Madrid before 2:00 pm the day after the last day of classes or closing ceremony. Students hosted by families in Madrid and Costa Rica, and the students hosted in apartments in Florence and Lyon must depart before 7:00 pm the day after the last day of classes or the day after the closing ceremony.As a general rule, no changes in the assigned housing are permitted, once the housing has been established, approved, and confirmed. Only in some cases and special circumstances will changes be allowed.Once housing assignment has been approved and confirmed, and money has been paid to secure it, a penalty will be established for breaking the agreement—in addtion to any other fees originated by a change. Changes would include: from family to apartment, apartment to family, from one apartment to a different one, from one residence to another, or by leaving housing assigned by the MLSA office.Students agree to respect and abide by all the specific policies, rules, regulations, instructions, written or unwritten, imposed to every resident living in the premises; a signed release and agreement form will be required of all participants.No housing arrangements will be made for participants bringing children with them—NO EXCEPTIONS.

Homestays are available upon request and on a limited basis. Since limited families are available, requests for homestays cannot be guaranteed. Students should make the request for homestays on their initial application.

​Travelers to Europe and Costa Rica should be up to date on routine vaccinations; however, many vaccinations are not required for entry into these countries. Most participants are already up to date with the vaccinations because of the requirements of your home university. We recommend you visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's website for country specific information on suggested vaccinations.
Please check with your family doctor for advice on which vaccinations he or she would suggest, since some of the routine vaccinations may not apply to you
based on your personal health needs. Non-US citizens also check with your native consulate.

14. INSURANCE All participants in the program are required to have medical insurance. Additional insurance can be obtained to protect participants against cancellations and loss or damaged baggage. Cancellation insurance is a must to avoid disappointment of having to miss the program because of illness or other reasons.If you are forced to cancel your trip and have no cancellation insurance, you can lose all your money. With our program you will have little flexibility and if you miss your flight you lose the flight and the money. We recommend you purchase inexpensive trip cancellation insurance.

​All students are required to have medical insurance before participating in the program. MLSA in Madrid provides the services of our private doctors for the organization, for around 50 euros per visit; he/she will see our students daily on short notice, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; hospitals are nearby for emergencies. In Costa Rica, if necessary for immediate care; or by hospitals. In Costa Rica, you must present a major credit card at hospitals. In Italy, the MLSA office will help with medical needs.

16.  LATE APPLICANTS/LATE PAYMENTS We welcome students up until the very last minute, provided we have space and we can make arrangements for them to join the program after the deadline. Contact the MLSA office before sending your application. Applications received are accepted on a rolling basis until the program is filled. However, due to the extra administrative work, a service charge of $200 per person will be assessed to students joining the program after the deadline or to participants who fall behind in their payment schedule. Students enrolling after the deadline must send full payment with the applications, plus the $200 late fee.

17.  MAIL Students can receive mail from their parents, relatives, and friends, but please know it will take a week to 10 days to reach them. This is a very important thing to remember during the final two weeks.

18. EMERGENCIES - MLSA staff will help students with emergencies, medical visits to doctors or hospitals, academic problems, cultural shock concerns, etc.

19. ON-SITE DIRECTORS AND STAFF MLSA has offices on the campuses of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the Universidad Antonio de Nebrija, the Universidad de Costa Rica, and the Universita di Firenze in the academic buildings where students can receive help for academic or non-academic concerns. Students will have access to the MLSA personnel 24 hours a day. 

20. ORIENTATIONS Before departure, the MLSA office will assist students with information related to academics, course selection, transfer of credits, and travel issues. Once in Spain, Costa Rica, Lyon and Florence, the MLSA staff will have on-site orientation and introduce participants to the city, university campus facilities and offices; will assist with cultural shock, personal safety, health issues, and living arrangements, to ensure students make a smooth transition. Attendance at these orientations is required. You will receive a folder with information about family, residences, student ID, and other important materials.

21. PASSPORT Students are responsible for obtaining their own passports. To obtain a passport, you can apply at the nearest central post office in your town. We urge students to apply for the passport as soon as they are accepted in to the program to avoid delays. It may take from three to five weeks or even more. It is the student’s responsibility to have all travel documentation. No money will be refunded for lack of documentation needed.We advise participants to make two extra passport photos and three copies of the inside first information page of the passport. With these extra documents, a quick replacement is easier to obtain if you should happen to lose your passport or it is stolen, preventing a delay in your trip and maybe serious problems.

Check the expiration date on your passport carefully before traveling to Europe.  Entry into any of the 26 European countries in the Schengen area for short-term tourism, a business trip, or in transit to a non-Schengen destination, requires that your passport be valid for at least three months beyond your intended date of departure.  If your passport does not meet the Schengen requirements, you may be refused boarding by the airline at your point of origin or while transferring planes.  You could also be denied entry when you arrive in the Schengen area.  For this reason,we recommend that your passport have at least six months’validity remaining whenever you travel abroad. 

22. PAYMENTS Payments can be made by check, cashier’s check, or money order to MLSA. If applicant is not accepted, the deposit will be returned; if applicant is accepted and later withdraws from the program, the registration fee will not be refunded. Credit cards are not accepted. A $50 fee will be charged if a check is not accepted by the bank. Students register for summer/winter semester and pay for summer/winter tuition, not per credit.

23. PHONE CALLS Regular cell phones don’t work in Spain, Costa Rica, or Italy. Pay-as-you-go mobile phones will be available for a rental fee at very reasonable prices.

​24. PLACEMENT TEST At the beginning of the program a placement test will be given to ensure that each student is placed in the level and group most suited to his/her needs and knowledge of the language. In some instances and special circumstances, the placement test will be given in advance in the United States, before traveling to Spain or Costa Rica. No placement test will be given to students in the graduate program. If a student is placed in the wrong level, he/she can change to a lower or higher level the first two days. It is not allowed to attend classes of different levels or to change sections within the same level without going through the add/drop procedure. The day following the placement test, students will find the results posted on the bulletin board at the universities’ classroom buildings with their name, level placed in, teacher’s name, and classroom number for the first class.

25. SPENDING MONEY We recommend a minimum of $150-200 per week for spending money. Basic costs are kept at a minimum and the only additional money would be for incidentals: refreshments, postage, shopping, daily public transportation, optional tours, weekend travel, souvenirs, (lunch in Costa Rica). Meals in Florence and Lyon are not included but apartments have complete kitchens.

26. STUDENTS’ RULES OF BEHAVIOR These rules have not been drawn up to restrict your freedom, but to ensure that the program is successful. The participants are subject at all times to the guidance and authority of the Director and he has the right to enforce appropriate standards of conduct. The Director reserves the right to cancel any participant at any time for reasons which appear to him to be valid in his sole judgment. He shall have the right, without refund, to send home any student who, by his/her conduct, causes serious inconvenience for the rest of the group or for any actions or conduct which he considers to be incompatible with the interest, harmony, comfort, and welfare of other students. If the student is dismissed from the program, no refund will be given and he/she will be sent home at his/her own expense. The excessive use of alcoholic beverages is not allowed. Intoxication is grounds for immediate termination of participation in the program. The judgment of the Director will be final in all matters of discipline.

27. TRANSCRIPTS – CREDIT TRANSFER – GRADES – ATTENDANCE At the end of the program, students will receive grades and credits reported on an official transcript from the universities in Spain, Costa Rica, France and Italy (not from MLSA). Grades will be recorded in both the American letter system (A, B, C, D, F) and the European/Latin American points system (5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). At the end of the program, you will be asked to write down the address where you want the transcript to be sent in the United States. Be very specific about the office and person who will receive the transcript so the transcript does not get lost.NOTE: The Universidad Complutense de Madrid will only send the transcript to universities, institutions, or organizations—not to an individual. The other universities will send transcripts to a student’s home, university, or institution.The transcript will not be released until all payments and fees have been paid.Attendance at classes is required; if the student misses 3 days of classes in Costa Rica, France or Italy, or 4 days in Spain, he/she will not receive any credits or any documentation testifying that he has participated in the program. A number of late arrivals to class will be considered as one absence.All courses offered are given on SEMESTER basis. The universities recommend credits to be equivalent to semester credit in American universities. All credits earned under these programs are transferable and will entitle the students to an official transcript, a grade and credit report from the universities which are fully accredited institutions. Although they are fully accredited, the accreditation of these courses and counting the credits towards fulfillment of graduate or undergraduate requirements, teacher certification, or to receive credit in your major/minor WILL DEPEND SOLELY on the decision of the authorities or correspondent departments of the universities of each student. All departments and schools reserve the right to determine how much and what type of credit you may receive. Students are advised to clear all courses with their home school before traveling to Spain, Costa Rica, France or Italy. Talk to your academic advisor at your own institution, or the person who is going to approve the transfer of credits to your university, institution, organization, to get the courses pre-approved before participating in the program. Complete the Academic Approval, Home School Authorization for transfer of credits form (ask MLSA office for the form); have it signed by your advisor if it is necessary and you want credits; keep the original and make a copy and send it to our MLSA office. In your application be sure to give the name of the institution where you want your transcript to be mailed. 



29.  VISA 

SHORT TERM PROGRAMS: U.S. citizens do not need a visa to travel to Europe or Costa Rica unless you stay longer than 3 months. Non-US citizens need to contact the consulate of their native country for visa information.


U.S. citizens can visit the State Department's website for more information on country specific visa requirements.




You must apply for your visa with plenty of time before your program. You will not be permitted to change visas, while in Spain. Though you may be able to submit an application for a visa while abroad, the consulate may require an in person interview and/or in person pickup.

While most student visa requirements are similar from consulate to consulate, the student must check their consulate's website for the exact requirements. 

Advice and FAQs about getting a student visa are located here.