The Ultimate Guide to Studying Abroad in Spain

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Estudiar en el extranjero en España

Studying abroad in Spain can be one of the most exciting and fulfilling steps you take in your university journey.

Thousands of people flock to Spain to study each year – it’s no secret why!

The country is dotted with gorgeous beaches, rich history and culture, and some of the best international universities in the world.

If you’re contemplating the move to Spain to experience all that the beautiful country has to offer, we’re here to help you get started on the right foot.

From finding accommodation to obtaining your student visa, we’ll explore all the practical tips you might need for every stage of the study abroad experience.

Moving to a new country takes some planning, so if you want to know more about what studying abroad in Spain looks like, you’ve come to the right place.

Studying Abroad in Spain – Bienvenidos!

Welcome to our ultimate study abroad guide where we’ll walk you through the various steps needed before jetting off to sunny Spain!

We’ll go over some common questions such as:

  • Where should I study abroad?
  • Should I be fluent in Spanish?
  • What type of visa will be needed?
  • Where will I live?
  • What should I pack?
  • Why should I study abroad?

To begin, let’s cover a few university options where you may want to study abroad.

Universities in Spain

There are so many different regions throughout Spain, with a wide variety of acclaimed Spanish universities for international students.

In fact, Spain has 76 universities to choose from throughout the country.

55 of which have landed on the World University Rankings for 2024.

You might want to choose your study abroad location by city, some may prefer to start by selecting a university or course of study.

There is no perfect route to searching through the various study abroad programs in Spain.

A few university options for international students include institutions such as:

  • Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
  • GBSB Global Business School
  • HTL International School
  • Universidad Europea

If you’re not sure where to begin your university search, Go! Go! España has a university finder that organizes universities by city.

You’ll be able to search through universities in Valencia, Murcia, Madrid, and Barcelona.

We work directly with you and your chosen university to get you started on your study abroad path.

Learning the Spanish Language

While being fluent in Spanish is not a prerequisite for studying abroad in Spain, there is no better way to learn Spanish than being totally immersed in it.

By studying abroad, you’ll be in the thick of it, learning to speak, read, write, and navigate your way in a new city.

Spanish classes can help you feel more comfortable navigating the language when you first arrive.

Depending on your level of fluency, a wide variety of classes exist to help you become more comfortable with speaking, reading, and writing in Spanish before you arrive.

Want to brush up prepare before you arrive in Spain?

Go! Go! España partners with various language schools to offer online courses to students across the globe.

Have a long journey via plane or train? Why not use that down time to practice your Spanish!

Our list of language learning apps might just help.

In the meantime, here are some common Spanish phrases that might be helpful:

  • Qué tal: What’s up?
  • Buenos días: Good morning.
  • Buenas tardes: Good afternoon.
  • Cómo estás: How are you?
  • Mucho gusto: Nice to meet you.
  • De dónde eres: Where are you from?
  • Cuánto cuesta: How much does it cost?
  • Dónde está la farmacia: Where is the pharmacy?
  • No me siento bien: I don’t feel well.
Studying abroad in spain

Getting Your Visa to Study Abroad in Spain

After you’ve been accepted to your desired university or study program, you’ll want to get a start on obtaining your student visa.

For any non-European Union citizens studying in Spain, a student visa will be required.

This process does take some time and planning, so we recommend getting a head start as soon as you can.

The estimated time it takes to obtain a student visa ranges anywhere from four to eight weeks.

The requirements to obtain a student visa include:

  • Academic qualification assessed by the Spanish Ministry of Education
  • Proof of sufficient financial means during your stay
  • Proof of adequate public or private health insurance
  • Receipt of background or criminal record check
  • Proof of visa payment receipt
  • Copy of a valid passport

Students are able to apply for this visa type while in Spain.

Luckily, Go! Go! España partners with an immigration lawyer who can apply for this visa on your behalf.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about obtaining a visa for life abroad, professional legal support will help take the guesswork out of the visa process.

Finding Accommodation in Spain

Once you’ve sorted out your study abroad program in Spain and Spanish visa, you’ll want to search for a place to stay.

Finding accommodation in Spain isn’t difficult, it simply takes a little bit of research and planning.

There are a few options for finding housing in Spain.

Many universities include a section on their website that provides information on student housing.

Some also provide direct rentals on campus.

Simply navigate to your university’s website to find out more.

For example, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid has halls of residence on campus, they also include an accommodation section on the university website.

If you’d prefer to stay in a more local area, accommodation websites are a good option.

Sites such as Uniplaces and Flatio are excellent resources for students looking to find affordable accommodation.

If you’re still not sure what type of housing is available to you, be sure to check out our accommodation finder for direct support finding a place to stay!

What to Pack for Studying Abroad in Spain

Packing for your time abroad in Spain can be an exciting part of the preparation process.

You’ll be living in a new country, so there are a few things you’ll want to double check that you’ve included in your packing list.

This will include general items such as comfortable shoes and any prescription medications.

It will also include standard travel documents such as:

  • Passport and photocopy
  • Visa and photocopy
  • Secondary form of ID
  • Plane ticket
  • Health insurance confirmation
  • Proof of university or class enrollment
  • Cash and credit card

We’d also recommend items like adapters and chargers so that you can keep your tech charged.

However, no need to over pack. Remember, Spain will be your home!

Any item that isn’t immediately urgent can be found once you arrive.

No need to add stress to your packing list by bringing unnecessary items.

Not to mention, many airlines have strict weight limits for luggage.

Pack only what you need and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

As a bonus tip, investing in good packing cubes can help save space in your luggage.

This will be helpful if you really can’t part with that extra pair of shoes or your favorite T-shirt.

Study abroad programs in Spain

How Much Studying Abroad in Spain Cost?

The cost to study abroad in Spain will depend on a few factors.

What city will you be studying? How long will your course of study be? Do you plan on traveling throughout Spain or to other countries?

You will likely want to account for the following budget items:

  • Flights
  • Passport fee
  • Housing
  • Food
  • Travel fund
  • Classes or education materials

While certain items may come with a higher price tag, Spain is one of the more affordable study abroad destinations.

Plenty of budget tips and tricks are available, as well as online resources to help you get the most out of your hard-earned cash.

Some ways to save include obtaining a Spanish SIM card, taking public transportation when possible, and cooking at home.

There are even plenty of student discounts throughout the country for major attractions like museums and train travel.

Always take advantage of student discounts, free activities, and tours where you can.

In Barcelona, for example, the first Sunday of the month is typically a free museum day!

An international student ID card can also help with budgeting.

This card is part of a global student community that allows students access to discounts related to shopping, attractions, food, and more.

Spain is home to so many incredible sights, so be sure to take advantage of exploring as often as you can.

In order to get an estimate of the cost of living in Spain for your case, you can use our cost of living in Spain calculator.

Final Tips to Study Abroad in Spain

Our main tip is to get out and explore Spain as much as possible.

The best way to immerse yourself in the Spanish language and culture is to get out there and be a part of it!

Develop connections with your neighbors and fellow classmates.

While it might feel intimidating at first, especially if you’re still learning the language, practice makes perfect.

The more you put yourself out there, the more you’ll feel at home.

The best way to start feeling comfortable is to take advantage of the rich history surrounding you and interact with others.

Luckily, Spain has an excellent public transportation system, so exploring is a breeze.

We’d also recommend downloading some helpful apps upon your arrival.

Apps such as Just Eat for those days when you don’t quite want to leave the house but are craving a delicious Spanish bite.

Or, if you’re not quite comfortable using the metro system just yet, Cabify is a great resource for getting around the city.

But if you do prefer traveling by train (my personal favorite way to travel!) Renfe is another public transportation app that is helpful when traveling via metro.

We also recommend making sure you stay connected during your time abroad.

Getting a Spanish SIM card or Spanish phone plan is essential.

You might be having too much fun during your time abroad to think about home, but for those days when you do get homesick, it’s much easier to call home with an affordable phone plan.

Reminder on Steps to Complete

A quick overview on the steps you’ll need to take to successfully become a study abroad student!

Research and apply to your desired university or study program in Spain.

After receiving your course approval, complete the student visa application process.

While waiting for the confirmation that your visa has been approved, search for accommodation in the city you’ll be living in.

From there, we recommend opening a Spanish bank account for ease of use, as well as obtaining a Spanish SIM card to stay connected.

Studying abroad in spain

What Are You Waiting For?

When studying abroad in Spain, you’ll be able to experience incredible food, architecture, weather… we could go on. Why not see for yourself?

Studying abroad in Spain isn’t merely about the time spent behind a classroom desk.

It’s about learning a new culture, enriching your own language skills, and gaining valuable life experience.

If you’re looking forward to expanding your world, let us know in the comments where in Spain you’re hoping to study!

If you’ve still got questions, check out our resources for finding accommodation, learn more about various universities throughout Spain, or get in touch with us today.

We’ve got a dedicated team to help.

We work with schools, accommodation agencies, and legal counsel to ensure students have all their bases covered when it comes to studying abroad.

Go! Go! España is here to help you get started on the exciting journey of studying abroad.


Where should I study abroad in Spain?

Spain has a multitude of excellent universities throughout the country. From the capital city of Madrid, to the port city of Alicante, where you study will depend on a variety of factors. Some cities are highly student friendly (looking at you, Madrid!) and others have a more affordable cost of living like Malaga or Salamanca. The choices are wide ranging, so it depends on what you hope to gain from your study abroad experience.

Do I need to apply for a visa when studying abroad in Spain?

Yes, students are required to apply for a student visa when studying abroad in Spain.

Do I need to be fluent in Spanish before I arrive?

No, you don’t need to be fluent before arriving. Having some Spanish language skills can help, but you’ll be able to enjoy the unique opportunity of immersing yourself in the language during your studies.

What are the requirements for studying abroad in Spain?

Each university will have a different set of requirements both prior to and arriving at your university. It’s a good idea to check with the study abroad advisor at your university to confirm what starting steps you’ll need to take.

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