At Barcelona SAE, health & safety is our top priority and we are committed to the protecting the welfare of our students while abroad in Barcelona. We ensure that our students are well-informed to help prevent incidents onsite, via pre-departure webinars, a health & safety welcome orientation upon arrival, and sending periodic safety reminders to our students throughout the program. We also take care of the emotional state of our students thanks to our mental health resources onsite. Our students have access to an English-speaking therapist in Barcelona that provides our students with consultations covered by insurance. We also have a mentor program and a wellness affinity group to assist the students in taking care of themselves inside and out during their study or intern abroad experience.

In the event of an incident, our onsite team is well-trained and skilled to assist our students according to protocol. We work closely with our partner clinic, Hospital Delfos, where our students have direct billing through their insurance as well as 24 hour assistance and support of the International Department with English-speaking staff.

Our Health & Safety team, alongside the entire Barcelona SAE staff, works daily to ensure that our students always feel safe and supported while abroad.

Health & Safety Update - April 4, 2024

Here at Barcelona SAE, our #1 priority is to keep our students safe. We hope these quarterly health & safety updates will assist students, their parents, and our sending institution partners to prepare for upcoming travel. 

Here is the latest update regarding life in Barcelona, Spain & Europe:


Surveillance of respiratory infections in Catalunya: 

During epidemiological week 13, from March 26 to April 1, 2024, the incidence of all acute respiratory infections (ARI) recorded a notable decrease. The IRA rate is 418 per 100,000 inhabitants.

The distribution of viruses shows a predominance of the common cold with rhinovirus as the most prevalent (26.6%), followed by metapneumovirus (20%), human coronavirus (9.3%), para-influenza (4.5%), flu (2.4%) and Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) (1%). 

The level of influenza transmission remains at a basal level, and RSV remains below baseline. The estimated incidence of RSV is 4 (1-9) cases per 100,000 inhabitants, and, like the flu, the epidemic wave is considered to be over. Pneumonias diagnosed in primary care registered a notable decrease, still remaining above expectations.

The new variant of COVID-19 ─JN.1─ continues to be predominant (80% of samples). The estimated incidence is 10 (3-17) cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The estimated incidence of SARS-COV-2 is low, with 4 (1-9) cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

The cases of streptococcal pharyngitis  and scarlet fever have been registered a decline. The incidence of streptococcal pharyngitis stands at 40 cases per 100,000 inhabitants of streptococcal pharyngitis and 4 cases per 100,000 inhabitants of scarlet fever, indicating the end of the second epidemic wave for Streptococcus pyogenes.

MPOX Report In Spain:

As of April 3rd, the ECDC & WHO have registered 141 cases of Mpox in the last 3 months, 68 of those in the last 4 weeks. The majority of cases were people between 31 and 40 years old (39%), male (98%) and most self-identified as men who have sex with men (96%). The majority of cases presented with a rash (95%) and systemic symptoms such as fever, fatigue, muscle pain, chills, or headache (67%). The Mpox vaccination in Catalunya and Spain is available for people considered at high risk. The vaccine protects from the disease before potential exposure to the virus and also protects within four days following exposure if the person has no symptoms. The criteria for getting vaccinated in Spain are listed here. Our program is in contact with our hospital of reference and local health centers and has created a protocol to assist students in case of contagion.

Overview of respiratory virus epidemiology in the EU/EEA

The weekly overview (week 11, 2024) of the European Respiratory Virus Surveillance Summary indicates that respiratory disease activity is decreasing but remains above baseline levels in under half of reporting EU/EEA countries. The activity is largely driven by influenza. Fifteen of 23 countries reported widespread geographical spread of seasonal influenza. Stable or decreasing trends in indicators of activity and severe disease were observed in most reporting countries. Influenza A(H1)pdm09 continues to be the most commonly detected virus in the EU/EEA (68%). Influenza vaccine effectiveness estimates for the 2023–2024 season indicate that up to 53% and 44% of vaccinated individuals in primary care or hospital settings, respectively, were protected against mild and severe influenza.

Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is currently low in most EU/EEA countries. COVID-19 has predominantly affected individuals aged 65 years and above. 


  • Although our program do no require proof of vaccination for COVID-19, we strongly encourage all program participants to be up to date with all of their vaccinations.
  • Barcelona SAE’s Risk Management Plan & Emergency Communication


  • The rise of scabies in Spain - Read it here.
  • Spain Browned by Drought - What will Spain look like when it runs out of water? Barcelona is giving us a glimpse - Read it here
  • One in six school-aged children experiences cyberbullying, finds a new WHO/Europe study. Read it here.

Health & Safety Update - December 18, 2023

Here at Barcelona SAE, our #1 priority is to keep our students safe. We hope these quarterly health & safety updates will assist students, their parents, and our sending institution partners to prepare for upcoming travel. 

Here is the latest update regarding life in Barcelona, Spain & Europe:


As of December 13th, the incidence of acute respiratory infections (ARI) in Catalunya as a whole continues to rise, at low levels of transmission (rate of 607 affected per 100,000 inhabitants). 47,800 cases of ARI have been registered.

The upward trend of flu and epidemiology of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections that started 5 weeks ago continues at a slow rate. There is also a higher-than-expected increase in cases of pneumonia diagnosed in primary care, which mainly affects children under 14 years of age. This indicator continues to be monitored and analyzed, but initial analyses indicate that it could be due to the increase in the circulation of Mycoplasma pneumonia.

The use of emergency rooms increases in all age groups, but both indicators remain within the normal range and the percentage of emergency room consultations that end in admission does not change.

This year’s vaccination campaign is an optimal way for all risk groups to protect and defend themselves against these seasonal viruses that are typical in winter. The current booster vaccines for COVID-19 have been updated to protect against the XBB.1.5 Omicron variant, but have also been shown to work against BA.2.86 and its sub-lineages.

The WHO European Respiratory Virus Surveillance Summary published on December 3rd about the European Region, reported that the rates of influenza-like illness (ILI) and/or acute respiratory infection (ARI) are elevated above baseline levels in 15 of 34 countries and areas of the WHO European Region. While there is variation across countries, at the Regional level, influenza activity remains low but has been increasing over the past 4 weeks; SARS-CoV-2 activity remains at elevated but stable levels and RSV activity continues to rise. At the Regional level, SARI hospital admissions for RSV have been increasing sharply over the 5 weeks and mainly in children under 5 years; admissions for influenza remain low but have seen a recent rise, whereas admissions for SARS-CoV-2 are still at elevated levels but declining for the past 5 weeks.


  • Although our program no longer requires proof of vaccination for COVID-19, we strongly encourage all program participants to be up to date with all of their vaccinations. If a participant is not fully vaccinated and restrictions are put in place, they will not be entitled to any form of reimbursement or compensation for parts of the program they are unable to complete.
  • Barcelona SAE’s Risk Management Plan & Emergency Communication


  • WHO updates guidelines on treatments for COVID-19. Read it here.
  • Spain records its highest-ever December temperature (85 F/30 C). Read it here.

Health & Safety Update - August 24, 2023

Here at Barcelona SAE, our #1 priority is to keep our students safe. We hope these  quarterly health & safety updates will assist students, their parents, and our sending institution partners to prepare for upcoming travel. 

Here is the latest update regarding life in Barcelona, Spain & Europe:


On July 4, 2023, the Spanish government declared an end to the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and announced that people no longer have to wear masks in healthcare centers, hospitals, and pharmacies. The Spain Travel Health (SpTH) portal, both the website and the mobile applications, are no longer operational and it is not necessary to fill in the health control form to travel to Spain nor to present the SpTH QR code when boarding the plane or on arrival at the airport.

The Information System for Surveillance of Infections in Catalonia (SIVIC) showed that COVID cases have been increasing in the last month. Despite the increase in cases, the health authorities claimed that there is no reason for concern, as the vast majority of cases are mild.

As of August 13th, the incidence of acute respiratory infections (ARI) in Catalunya as a whole continues to rise, at low levels of transmission (rate of 315 affected per 100,000 inhabitants). 24,733 cases of ARI have been registered. The distribution of viruses shows SARS-CoV-2 as the most frequent (35.2%) followed by rhinovirus (14.1%) and parainfluenza (9.4%).

The estimated global weekly rate of COVID-19 is 111, up from 88 the previous week. The Omicron variant represents almost 100% of the sequenced samples. The EG5.1 sublineage of the XBB.1 variant was detected for the first time in Catalonia on June 8 and up to now a total of 39 positive samples for this lineage have been registered. The WHO has published a risk assessment of this sublineage considering it as a variant of interest and assigning it a global risk level of low risk, since it may have a greater ability to spread and escape by having mechanisms to avoid acquired immunity and, according to data from some countries, it could also have a greater capacity to produce cases that require hospitalization.

The number of people admitted with COVID in conventional beds continues on an upward trend, with 453 people admitted, 13 more than the previous week. 81% of people admitted are over 60 years old. ICU admissions remain stable, with 13 people admitted for this disease.

The Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians (SEMERGEN) confirmed an increase in cases of colds, influenza A and COVID-19 in Spain this summer, but with milder symptoms than during the pandemic.

The WHO report published on August 17th about the European Region, reported over 67 000 new COVID cases, a 46% decrease as compared to the previous 28-day period. The highest numbers of new cases were reported from the Russian Federation, Italy, and the United Kingdom. The number of new 28-day deaths in the Region decreased by 71% as compared to the previous 28-day period, with 634 new deaths reported. 


  • Barcelona SAE suspended the COVID vaccination requirement on April 30th, 2023. Although our program will no longer require proof of vaccination for COVID-19, we strongly encourage all program participants to be up to date with all of their vaccinations. IMPORTANT: If a participant is not fully vaccinated and restrictions are put in place, they will not be entitled to any form of reimbursement or compensation for parts of the program they are unable to complete.
  • Barcelona SAE is monitoring the evolving situation regarding the rise in COVID-19 cases in Spain, and closely following updates provided by local health authorities. We will continue to adapt our health and safety measures as needed to align with the latest information and recommendations.
  • Barcelona SAE’s Risk Management Plan & Emergency Communication


  • Pharmacies notice a rise in Covid test sales during August as cases increase. See the video here
  • Rising temperatures are forecast to wipe out Spain’s remaining glaciers in 10 years. Read it here.
  • First steps are taken to incorporate AI diagnoses into the Catalan health system. Read more here.
  • Barcelona: as the city celebrates Pride and gears up for more events, a community-based center offers vital support to Mpox-affected communities. Read it here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Barcelona SAE’s specific metrics to cancel a program?

If the Spanish government does not allow US citizens to enter Spain, even for academic purposes, Barcelona SAE would not be allowed to offer an in-person program but would work with our university partners to find a virtual solution for academic and cultural programming.

If the Spanish government forces all US citizens to leave Spain, we will facilitate the logistics of returning home by working in close contact with the US Consulate and sending universities, and we remain committed to continuing the academic portion of the program online, as well as cultural programming.

Do you offer any sort of cancellation insurance?

No. We recommend that students or universities research options for CFAR and IFAR if they are interested.

What if I get hurt or sick?

If you find yourself needing a doctor, we’re here to help! The last thing you want to worry about in the case of an emergency is translating the issue to a medical professional and finding someone you can trust so we went ahead and did that already. We have personally established contact with several English-speaking doctors, both female and male, so they are prepared to provide assistance to any of our students.

And remember, all of our participants always have around-the-clock support…upon your arrival in Barcelona, you will be given our 24-hour emergency phone number which will repeated, repeated, and repeated again. Your welcome orientation will ensure you have the number memorized so there is no delay if you need us.

What happens when I use the emergency number?
  • Our staff is trained to handle emergencies and takes every phone call very seriously.
  • If needed, a staff member will personally accompany you to the hospital.
  • We will create a detailed report of all incidents, no matter how large or small.
  • We will help you with logistics, paperwork, and follow up.
  • We’re your “familia” while you’re in Barcelona, which means that in the unlikely case that something does happen, you will not be alone!
How has Barcelona SAE established their medical support and is it kept up to date with current risks?

Although most students have no issues during their time in Spain, traveling abroad comes with inherent risks. Barcelona SAE utilizes a variety or resources to stay on top of health, political, and educational issues to be sure we can respond to the specific health and safety needs of each student.

What type of training and experience do the Barcelona SAE staff have?

Our on-site staff all have studied or interned abroad themselves, and we have years of experience advising and supporting students.

What will I learn during my pre-departure and welcome orientations?

Through our extremely detailed and engaging orientations, learning all about Barcelona will begin well before you ever get on your flight. We provide all students with a pre-departure webinar, a welcome orientation the day you arrive, and a cultural orientation during your first week in Barcelona. Orientation and information is subject to change, but always includes applicable information as you begin safely navigate your new home.

Barcelona SAE has a health and safety code of conduct in accordance with specific laws and site specific dangers inherent to Spain and Catalonia. These rules are disseminated in pre-departure information and discussed at length and agreed upon with students when they arrive.

  • Students are provided with specific laws and important site information that regard the Barcelona SAE safety code of conduct
  • We require each student to send us their personal travel itineraries to staff before they go away so we can contact them in case of emergency
  • Health forms for all students are carried at all times by our staff so important records are literally at our fingertips
  • Safety in Barcelona – where to take the most care in the city and areas to avoid
  • Tips for avoiding pickpockets in Barcelona
  • What to do in case of an emergency
  • How to avoid dangerous situations
  • Cultural differences that could lead to problems
  • Risk aversion tactics
  • Each student receives the US consulate travelers’ advisories upon arrival
Great! Is the welcome orientation the only time that health and safety is covered?

No! Health and safety is always our number one priority, and therefore, we encourage our students to make choices that keep them healthy, safe, and happy throughout their time abroad.

We also maintain constant communication with local universities so we are aware of student attendance. This is a safety precaution, but also helps ensure the academic side of the program is going well.

I’m afraid I will get homesick and lonely. Do you offer mental health services while I’m abroad?

Not all issues are physical. In fact some of the most common problems abroad include homesickness, anxiety, and other personal issues that can arise no matter where you are. Some issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and learning disabilities can be exacerbated when in new environments. We offer support in these areas too. We have taken the same precautions with these situations as with other medical issues. So you can call us at any time as well as rely on a network of professionals we have know and trust.

Do I need special health insurance while studying in Spain?

Spain does not require international students to have medical insurance, but we still believe it is very important. All of our students are covered by our $5 million general liability policy. The insurance policy is through a US provider that specializes in the medical needs of international students so you will be well covered by experts.

Who should I tell if I have a problem or am concerned about something?

You can always feel free to tell any of our staff members. We stress the importance of communication between student and staff and value the relationships we build every term. Meeting you is the best part of our job and the most effective way for us to know how to help – never hesitate to discuss any issues with us. Constant communication with onsite staff is key to preventing little incidents from turning into larger problems.

Where can I find more information on your emergency communication plan?

You can find more information on our emergency communication plan here.


You can review our payment deadlines and refund policy here.

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I felt completely supported and safe throughout my entire Barcelona SAE program. The staff did a great job of laying out the pre-departure information on their website in different, detailed sections, which ensured I was fully prepared before my program even began. The day trips and excursions they had planned were great and in smaller groups which was also nice. The classes were small as well, creating a comfortable learning environment, and a place that led to a lot of great friendships from people who live all over the world.  I would absolutely recommend Barcelona SAE without hesitation!"

Brenley Bruxvoort | University of Northern Colorado

Experience the magic of Barcelona SAE