“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” - Aldous Huxley
According to the European Commission, 27% of Erasmus students met their current partner during their time abroad. Do you think you’ll find the one in Spain? Only time will tell. Before we get ahead of ourselves, you should find out more about choosing a university and embarking on an exchange programme. Fortunately for you, Superprof has put together this guide for your time at a Spanish university. If you want to study abroad in Spain as an undergraduate, postgraduate, an international student for an academic year, or on an intensive language and culture programme, here's how to go abroad, enrol on a programme, and improve your Spanish language skills.
What Are the Administrative Steps to Studying in Spain?
After your A Levels, you could study directly at a Spanish university. As it stands, members of the EU don’t need a visa to study in Spain and have a better choice when it comes to scholarships than those trying to get their education abroad and aren't from one of these countries. That doesn’t mean there aren’t procedures you need to follow. There are certain requirements for living in Spain:
- Enrollment in a Spanish university.
- Sufficient resources
- Health insurance
Step 1: Get Your Credencial de Acceso
To enrol in a Spanish university, you’ll need to get your “credencial de acceso”. This is a confirmation of your A-Level results in the UK. You need to do this at the UNED and it costs €105. If you’ve already graduated from a UK university, you could continue via Erasmus+ by asking for the equivalent of your qualifications directly from the Spanish Ministry of Education.
Step 2: Register with the Local Authorities
If you’re staying for less than 3 months, you don’t need to do anything. Otherwise, you’ll need to register at the town hall or the police. A confirmation will be sent immediately, allowing you to stay in the country. You don’t need to renew this but it is a good idea to keep it on you at all times. You may be asked for it and not having it can be subject to a fine. Registration costs €11.
Step 3: Get Your NIE (Foreigner Identification Number)
Once you’ve got your confirmation, you can get your NIE which will allow you to open a bank account, get travel cards, phone contracts, internet, contract water or electricity, etc.
Heading to Spain Thanks to Erasmus
Spain is one of the most popular countries for students on Erasmus. The exchange programme allows anyone from the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Croatia, or Turkey, to study or do an internship in another country in the European Union. For Erasmus+, there are more steps and you’ll probably need to spend at least a year putting your application together to ensure that you’ll be accepted.
Step 1: Attend the Erasmus Meeting at Your University
When you get to university, you should find out about any Erasmus meetings you should be attending. If you're thinking “why study abroad?”, an advisor can help you find more about international education, spending a summer abroad, or getting international experience. It doesn't matter whether you study humanities or sciences, you can study your main subject while getting language courses alongside your studies and these language courses can give you academic credit towards your degree. There may be several to ensure that a student’s application is correct.
Step 2: Head to the International Office
If there aren’t any meetings planned, you should head to the international office at your university. You should be able to find out about applying, partner universities, how many places are available, etc. You’ll require several documents:
- A cover letter in English and sometimes in Spanish
- An application for an Erasmus scholarship
- A letter of recommendation from teachers
- A transcript of your results
Step 3: Writing Your Cover Letter
The most important step is your cover letter. Remember that the main goals of the Erasmus programme are to:
- Study in a university
- Participate in practical training to develop personal skills and linguistic skills in a Spanish business
Keep this in mind when you’re writing your cover letter. Your cover letter for Erasmus should follow the same structure as a cover letter for a job. It needs to be concise (1 page), including an introduction, your background, your arguments, and a conclusion. You may have several arguments and you might want to express your willingness to learn the Spanish language, to study in a different environment, find out more about the working world abroad, or to live in Spain. You may also want to mention that you want to gain practical skills to help your career prospects. Don’t hesitate to mention that you want to learn more about Spanish culture and the rest of the world.
Step 4: Send the Documents and Scholarship Request
Now all you have to do is send your application off and wait for the reply. Don’t hesitate to regularly check up on how it’s doing.
Which Spanish University Should You Choose?
For studying abroad, you need to choose whether or not you want to study at a university, engineering school, or art school. Three of the top 500 universities are Spanish. That said, popularity shouldn’t be your only criterion.
Step 1: Choose the City in Spain
Before you choose your university in Spain, you should think about which Spanish city or town you’d like to live in. If you’re going to spend at least a semester somewhere, you should probably pick somewhere that you’ll enjoy going to. You might want somewhere close to the sea or a student town. There are plenty of cities in Spain and there are a number of criteria to consider:
- The cost of accommodation
- The quality of life
- Cultural dynamism
- The cost of living
- The quality of university infrastructure
The most popular cities include Madrid, Seville, and Barcelona, while the most popular university is the University of Granada.
Step 2: Choose Your University
To choose your university, you can pick from popular universities or prestigious universities. The 10 Spanish universities found in the 2018 rankings for the top 500 universities in the world include:
- University of Barcelona
- Universidad Complutense - Madrid
- University Pompeu Fabra Barcelona
- University of Granada
- Autonomous University of Barcelona
- Autonomous University of Madrid
- The University of the Basque Country
- Polytechnic University of Valencia
- University of Santiago
- University of Valencia
However, the better the university, the more competition there’ll be for places. Make sure your application is good and your grades are even better. Not all of these universities are among the most popular. University Pompeu Fabra Barcelona, the University of the Basque Country, and the University of Santiago aren’t the most requested. On the other hand, the University of Seville and the University of Salamanca are.
Step 3: Visit Your Future Home
The best way to choose where you want to live and study is by going there to visit. You’ll be able to get a better idea of whether or not the place is right for you.
Some Essential Information for Studying in Spain
Spending time in Spain means that you’ll have to adapt to another country and its customs. You may need to do a language level test in order to attend a university. In Spain, Spanish is spoken, even in universities. It’s unlikely that you’ll find classes in English. International students often choose Spain because of the Mediterranean lifestyle and the cheap cost of living. While the minimum wage is a little over €800, this is appropriate to the cost of living. In Spain, you don’t need to be that formal with your teachers at university and you can probably call them by their first name. Similarly, classes are quite informal and discussion and debate are often encouraged. In Spain, you’ll also need to get used to the food. Each region has its own specialities but one thing that most places will have is tapas. Spanish cuisine is very rich. A siesta may be recommended, especially when some students are just heading to clubs at two in the morning and classes start before nine! There’s also the tuition fees to consider. That said, you can't really put a price on how much you'll learn through cross-cultural immersion. Also, there are study abroad scholarships and the opportunity to intern abroad. Ready to start thinking about studying in Spain?