Let’s be real—study abroad in Spain is the ultimate dream (naps are a part of life, people!). Here’s what you gotta know before you go! ☆ Studying abroad in Spain is one of the best decisions you can make—ask anyone who’s done it! From the unique and under-the-radar Basque Country in the north to the bumping ports of Malaga in the south, Spain has something for everyone and will surely leave you totally enamorado. But, it’ll take more than just enrolling in a program and showing up to be successful!
Studying abroad anywhere is challenging, but particularly in Spain, it’ll require more than just following “dos and don’ts” to start feeling like a local. But, luckily, you don’t have to learn from your own mistakes when you can just learn from ours! If your mouth is watering for tapas and you can’t sit still thinking about flamenco, it’s time to check out our top studying abroad in Spain tips and head to the airport pronto!
9 study abroad in Spain tips
It’s all too easy to accidentally live off of granola bars your first week of study abroad in Spain or not know why you’re getting weird looks all the time. Why use trial and error when you have us? Whether you’ve already committed or are just browsing, these studying abroad in Spain tips will help guide your journey so you can spend less time Googling and more time eating paella and salmorejo. That’s the true goal, right?
1. Spain is bigger than you think
People underestimate Spain. As (physically) the fourth largest country in Europe and the second largest in the EU, Spain covers a lot of ground. It’s estimated that modern humans arrived in the Iberian Peninsula over 35,000 years ago, making Spain one of the oldest civilizations and the world’s first global empire. Spain is now home to 47 million people and has a legacy around the globe that includes almost 600 million Spanish speakers. That makes Spanish the second-most spoken native language in the world!
2. Don’t expect everyone to speak the same language
Everyone assumes it’s all Spanish in Spain, but this is surprisingly not the case! Castilian Spanish is the official language, but it’s actually only spoken natively by 74% of Spaniards. The rest speak other dialects of Spanish – including Galician, Catalan, Occitan, and Basque – or other languages entirely. Spain has always been a melting pot of cultures and languages, and with recent immigration booms in western Europe, it’s truer now than ever.
3. There’s more than Madrid
Spain’s capital is one of the most popular cities in the world to study abroad in. Madrid truly is awesome, but there are tons of other places to study, too! From Mediterranean paradise Valencia to Gaudi-covered Barcelona to Moorish Seville, there’s no reason to feel limited in this diverse country. If you really can’t make up your mind (which we know is hard in an amazing place like Spain!), consider a travel study abroad program that can take you to multiple cities or even countries!
4. Pick the program that’s best for you
Like we covered above, Spain is absolutely dripping with amazing study abroad opportunities, both in Madrid and every other area! Do your research to select a Spain study abroad program and location that suits your needs and goals best, and don’t be afraid to get creative. Some of the highest-ranked program providers include AIFS, IES Abroad, API, CIEE, and CISabroad, but be sure to do your own homework and read program reviews to help narrow down the list.
5. Local friends are the best friends
This is definitely an important tip for any type of meaningful travel, but it’s especially important when studying abroad in Spain! Because Spain is one of the top study abroad locations, it’s all too easy to cling to other international students rather than branching out to meet locals. Step outside of your comfort zone and make friends with Spanish students in your city. Not only will they show you the best restaurants, sangria cafes, and off-the-beaten-path sites, but they’ll drastically help your Spanish skills, too!
6. Don’t sit still
Spain is one of the largest countries in Europe and offers incredibly diverse geography, sites, and opportunities for adventure. Stretching from the Pyrenees down the Mediterranean to Africa, there’s surely something for everybody in this great land. Use your time outside of class to explore! Hop over to Malaga to relax on its pristine beaches. Walk part of the Camino de Santiago to experience a piece of living history. Head to Basque Country to soak up the unique melting pot of French and Spanish cultures. There’s no reason to ever be bored here, which is one of the top reasons why study abroad in Spain is so popular!
7. Embrace family lifestyles and businesses
The Spanish way of life is slower and more centered around family than most countries. Small family-owned businesses still rule the land, with most shops focused on selling one type of product rather than superstores like many cities. The family-business mindset allows for a more relaxed way of life, where shopping is done daily and in small amounts, and the owners of a store can close for siesta whenever they want and take Sundays off. Always pay attention to when businesses are open, and be sure to carry cash!
8. Don’t underestimate siesta time
Nothing is more legit in Spain than siesta. EVERYTHING. CLOSES. Take advantage of this time and live like the Spaniards do! Take a nap in the middle of the day just because. Grab some take-out tapas and enjoy a for-once-empty plaza mayor. Bond with your host family over a hot meal while you relax at home. But whatever you do, don’t try to get restaurant reservations!
9. Don’t go out before midnight
Everything runs later in Spain. Being part of a culture that takes a midday break means that everything comes back to life in the early evening and stays alive until the wee hours of the morning. Dinner is usually between 9:00-11:00 p.m. and no one steps foot in a bar before at least midnight. Bet that midday nap is looking more attractive now.
Whether you would like to study Spanish in Spain or just study abroad in Spain, this country has a lot to offer! Check out our favourite 5 reasons to study in Spain.
Don’t wait any longer and choose your Spanish school in Spain today. You can read real reviews from fellow students to make an informed choice and find the perfect language school for yourself.
Spanish is spoken by nearly 430 million people in 31 countries. Learning the language or just mastering the basics will give you an advantage in your professional and social life because you can encounter it in many places. The language is relatively not that hard and considered one the most beautiful languages in the world by many.
Climate and landscapes
Spain is located in southern Europe and has a diverse landscape. There are beautiful sandy beaches and high mountains. Spain also includes Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. There are four seasons in Spain and all are quite pleasant. The temperatures are never extremely cold or hot.
Are you one of the many fans of Spanish cuisine? Most probably! If so this is another great reason for you to study in Spain. All the different varieties of paellas, tortillas and gazpachos can make you fall in love with Spain even more. On top of that there may not be anything better than enjoying a nice plate of tapas and a glass of local wine (if you’re 18, of course!) after an adventurous day in this beautiful country.
There is so much to see in Spain! You have definitely heard about Madrid, Barcelona, Tenerife and Ibiza, while these cities and islands are surely must-sees, there many many more beautiful and interesting places to see in Spain. Explore La Oliva on Fuertaventura, Adeje on Tenerife, Seville with three UNESCO World Heritage Sites and many more magical places in Spain.
Cost of living
Compared to other countries in Europe the cost of living in Spain is quite affordable. This is an important factor when choosing a country to study abroad. If you plan your finances well you can save some money and spend it on travels.
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