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Exploring Major Determinants of Health in Spain

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:



Madrid & Valencia, Spain




3.0 GPA, good academic and disciplinary standing, health-related major, 1 semester of college-level study

Application Deadline:

Jan. 31, 2024

Program Cost:

Refer to the Application tab

Program Description

Photo by Alejandro Hikari on Unsplash

Spain is often cited as the healthiest country in the world by the Bloomberg Global Health Index. Valencia and Madrid have been rated as the two healthiest cities in the world. This course will take a socioecological view and explore determinants of health outcomes in Spain. Students will be exposed to a variety of individual, organizational, community, and structural systems in two major Spanish cities - Madrid and Valencia. Students will be charged with: 1) identifying major determinants of health in Spain; 2) comparing them to similar determinants within the United States; 3) considering how these determinants might differentially contribute to health disparities in Spain vs. the U.S.; and 4) brainstorm ways in which health promoting determinants in Spain might be applied within the United States to improve public health.

Academic Program

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Taught by UI Department of Health and Human Physiology professor Dr. Lucas Carr, this three-week course carries three (3) semester hours of resident credit and is taught in English (no foreign language proficiency is required).

The course is approved as a major elective for the Health Studies, Health Promotion, Exercise Science, and Human Physiology majors within the Department of Health and Human Physiology.

Cultural Activities

Photo by Juan Gomez on Unsplash

The program will include visits to sites of historic and cultural significance in Madrid and Valencia, as well as health-related excursion and activities in both cities. Possible activities include the following:

  • Hike to Hanging Bridges of Chulilla
  • Visit to Montanejos thermal springs
  • Paella cooking class
  • Market tours
  • Visits to parks and outdoor gyms in Madrid and Valencia

Program Dates

The dates for the 2024 program are Sunday, May 19 (departure from U.S.) to Friday, June 7 (departure from Madrid). See the Logistics tab for more information on travel arrangements.

For More Information

Prof. Lucas Carr, Faculty Director
UI Department of Health and Human Physiology

Emily Brown, Senior Study Abroad Advisor & Program Coordinator
International Programs
1111 University Capitol Centre
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242

Phone: 319-335-0353


Photo by Quique Olivar on Unsplash

The Spanish capital of Madrid is a city of great cultural and political prominence. It is widely considered to be one of the most energetic capital cities in Europe and is home to some of the finest art museums in the world. Its centralized location makes it an ideal starting point for any trip to other Spanish cities or to neighboring countries. The city is a melting pot for all regions of Spain, yet it has maintained its own well-defined character. Madrid is known for its modern skyline but has successfully preserved the look and feel of many of its historic neighborhoods and streets. This cohesive mixture of old and new is evident in every facet of madrileño culture, making this capital city a true Spanish treasure to explore.


Ciudad de las Arts y Las Ciencias

Valencia is a southern coastal city with a population of about 750,000 people. The temperate climate makes it a hotspot for outdoor recreational activities including hiking, swimming, and biking. Valencia is also home to a number of cultural and historic sites, including several museums and a cultural center. In addition to its recreation-friendly atmosphere, Valencia is best known for its City of Arts and Sciences, an innovative complex made up of five main parts: an interactive science center, l’Oceanografico (the largest aquarium in Europe), an opera-centric performing arts venue, an IMAX theatre and planetarium, and a large outdoor zone.


Situated on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, Spain is a strikingly beautiful and diverse country. The country has the third largest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Spain’s distinct regions means there is something for everyone, from lush forests to towering mountains and stunning beaches to vibrant cities, many of which are easily accessible through the country's extensive network of high-speed trains. Widely known for excellent food and art, friendly locals, relaxed lifestyle, Flamenco culture, and lots of sunshine, Spain has been one of the cultural centers of Europe for thousands of years and remains one of the most popular destinations in the world for study and travel.

US Department of State Country Information

The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.

Living Arrangements

Students will be housed in multiple occupancy rooms in hostels or hotels in Madrid and Valencia. Students will only be housed with other participants in the program. Rooms will include a private bathroom. Accommodations will include breakfast daily.


U.S. Citizens

U.S. citizens who do not have a passport should apply for one as soon as possible. More information about how to apply for a passport is available on the U.S. Department of State’s website.

Students with a valid passport should check the expiration date. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the anticipated return to the US from studying abroad. US citizens who need to renew their passport can find more information on the US Department of State’s website.

Expedited processing service is available at an additional cost. UI Study Abroad encourages students to ask the passport agency at the time of application whether expedited service is recommended.

Non-U.S. Citizens

Students who are not U.S. citizens should contact UI Study Abroad ( for information on how to ensure that their passport is valid for the duration of their time abroad.

Travel Arrangements

A suggested flight itinerary will be shared with students accepted to the program. Students are strongly encouraged to book the suggested flight itinerary or an alternative itinerary that arrives in Madrid at approximately the same time. Onsite staff in Madrid will meet the group at the airport and provide transportation to the program site.

Participants who are unable to meet onsite staff at the group arrival point in the airport are responsible for checking in at the designated arrival point at the appointed date and time and are responsible for all transfer arrangements and costs.

Local Transportation

Participants will be provided with public transit passes for use in Madrid and Valencia. Private transportation for certain program activities and excursions will be provided.

COVID-19 Protocols

For courses traveling abroad, participating students and faculty will be required to follow host country laws and procedures regarding COVID-19. Requirements of each host country are subject to change with little notice. Requirements may include COVID-19 testing, proof of vaccination, or quarantine/isolation to enter the country or to access certain facilitates and services.

To review current entry requirements, please refer to the U.S. Embassy COVID-19 Country-specific Information page for your destination.


This program is open to UI students who fulfill the following requirements:

  • Good academic and disciplinary standing: Students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing at the University of Iowa. Academic and disciplinary history will also be considered when determining whether a student is prepared to represent the University of Iowa as part of this program. Students who, even after being accepted into a program, are put on either academic and/or disciplinary probation for any period of time overlapping with the study abroad program dates are ineligible to study abroad. In these cases, students must forfeit their acceptance, will not be allowed to study abroad, and are wholly responsible for any and all financial expenses incurred.
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA: Students must have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA. Applications from students who have a GPA below 3.0 may be considered for the program but will be interviewed by the faculty director in order to make a final acceptance decision.
  • Major program of study: Preference given to majors in Health & Human Physiology and other health-related majors.
  • Completion of at least one semester of college-level study: First-year student applicants may be required to provide an academic reference in addition to other application materials. Preference given to juniors and seniors.
  • Demonstrated preparedness and maturity: Students must meet entry requirements for the countries and venues visited by the program, including entry requirements related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students must demonstrate preparedness to take on the heightened responsibilities associated with international study and travel and demonstrate a commitment to behave responsibly abroad while respecting cultural differences. Students are expected to obey both local laws and program directives conveyed to participants before and during the program. The University of Iowa Code of Student Life applies to all program participants while abroad.
  • Clear interest and commitment: This program is open to students of all academic backgrounds. Students must demonstrate a clear academic or personal interest in the program’s subject matter and a commitment to engage responsibly in coursework abroad.
  • Approval by faculty director and UI Study Abroad: Applications will be reviewed by the program’s faculty director, and students will be accepted based on their eligibility and application materials.
  • Attendance at mandatory orientation programming: Students must attend all in-person and online pre-departure orientation programming.

There is no Spanish language requirement for participation in this course.


The cost sheet outlines the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid and planning purposes. It includes fees charged on students’ U-Bill (course fee, Study Abroad Administrative Fee, and mandatory Iowa Regents CISI Travel Insurance), as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic. Please see the respective websites for further details. Contact the UI Study Abroad advisor with questions regarding the cost sheet.

The 2024 course sheet is posted below. The course fee does not include the Study Abroad Administrative Fee, CISI Travel Insurance, or out-of-pocket expenses, all of which are listed in the cost sheet.

PDFCost Sheet for Exploring Major Determinants of Health in Spain, Summer 2024

Scholarships & Financial Aid

Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options.

Scholarship opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities and Non-UI External Awards.

How to Apply

The application for the Summer 2024 program opens on January 1, 2024 and will close on January 31, 2024. The application process consists of the following steps:

  • UI applicants complete the UI Online Application for Study Abroad. Non-UI applicants should email UI Study Abroad Advisor Emily Brown ( for application instructions. Applicants will be charged a $50 non-refundable application fee.
  • Once the application process is complete, application materials will be reviewed by the program director, Prof. Lucas Carr. All applicants will receive official notification of their acceptance status shortly after the final application deadline. Accepted students will also receive information about how to confirm their place in the course.
  • Details about flights and orientation will follow soon after accepted students confirm their place in the program in late February.

Application Deadline

Summer 2024 program: January 31, 2024

Acceptance & Confirmation Materials

Acceptance and confirmation materials will be distributed after the next application deadline.

Health & Safety Planning

All students preparing to study abroad should review the following:

Iowa Regents CISI Health Insurance Information

Students are also encouraged to complete the Health Preparation Guide for International Travelform with their medical practitioner. This document is intended to help you plan for your medical needs abroad. Please DO NOT turn this form in to UI Study Abroad.


U.S. passport holders do not need to obtain a visa for a stay in Spain of less than 90 days. Non-U.S. passport holders should consult with the UI Study Abroad advisor.


In order to prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These are in addition to orientations provided by ACCENT upon arrival in Madrid. See below for more information.

Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

You are required to complete the International Programs online “Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation” course distributed through ICON prior to departure. This orientation is mandatory for all students going abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa. It covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as health and safety, communication, money, goals and much more. You will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to you once enrolled. If you have any questions you can email

Program-Specific Orientation

During this in-person orientation, students will receive information on registering for their program inn MyUI, payment and billing, course approvals and other practical matters. Students will also have the opportunity to ask the program director, a native of Spain, questions about academics, Spanish culture, and other general topics.