Every year, Spain welcomes huge numbers of international students in its 74 universities all across the country. It is a wonderful country to go for higher education. It is rich in culture, history and offers a complete package for anyone coming from outside. If you are planning to study abroad, you might want to consider Spain as your destination, for the following reasons:

Affordable Cost of Living

Being a college student, this would be a major concern for you. You would want to look for a place that is cheap and close to your university. The good thing about Spain is that no matter where you live, you can manage your finances on a budget that suits you – if you are vigilant and careful enough.


This would mainly depend on the area you want to live in. It is safe to say that you should look for places outside Madrid or Barcelona if you want it to be really cheap. These two cities are ranked in the 50 most expensive places to live in the world. Country living would be a much more affordable option for you as a student. Even if you want to live near the beach, you can find good affordable places to live if you search properly. The cheapest places to live in Spain would be Salamanca, Santiago de Compostela and Granada. You can always choose to live with a local host family, to experience the Spanish life firsthand. If not, then renting a private apartment for sharing would cost you somewhere between 650 and 800 Euros per month. A studio apartment or a one-bedroom apartment can cost you 400-550 Euros per month.


Spain has a variety of entertainment options on a budget. There are many places to see in the country, many bars, pubs, markets, shopping centers, zoos, art galleries, etc.


When renting a space, make sure you have calculated the cost of basic utilities such as internet, groceries, electricity and gas, etc. Expect to be spending around an additional 150 to 200 Euros on these seemingly small, yet important expenses.

Food in Spain

You can eat pretty good food for less in Spain. In addition to that, there are many great restaurants in the country for dining out, with the average meal cost being somewhere between 6 and 20 Euros per person. As college students, this should fit in easily into your monthly budget. You can also plan on cooking your own meals – buying ingredients at the supermarket is not an expensive option either. On average, expect to be spending around 450 Euros per month on food.

Transport in Spain

The Spanish transport system is one of the best in Europe.  It includes modern metro systems, high speed trains connected through a vast network of railways and affordable fares.

  • Metros: These are the quickest ways to get around the cities. Even though they are crowded during rush hours, they are pretty safe and pleasant to travel in. The underground railway systems are spread in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Bilbao.
  • Buses: All the major cities in Spain have excellent bus services. This is the cheapest and most common mode of transportation in the country and a lot of coastal settlements are accessible only by bus. Private bus services are also an option, but they can be a bit confusing for newcomers in particular. You can get bus tickets at bus terminals. You can also purchase a ticket from the driver or conductor when you enter the bus (though this may be charged a little extra).
  • City Buses in Spain: Most city bus services in Spain run from around 6am to midnight. However, these buses are often quite crowded and some of them are not air-conditioned. Most city buses would have a fewer number of seats to create a lot of room for standing passengers.

Note: Spain also has regional, national, long distance and international buses.

  • Trams: Trams are not very common in Spain. Very few cities have retained them. Air-conditioned trams were reintroduced in Valencia in 1994, after an absence of 20 years. Barcelona also has a tramline, under the name of ‘Combino’ and in 2002, Bilbao also brought tramlines back.

Wonderful Climate

Spain has four seasons, and each season is more delightful than the last. The average temperature in the winters is around 59 degrees Fahrenheit, which is comfortable and very enjoyable. The summer average temperatures go up to 70 degree Fahrenheit.

Affordable Tuition Fees

Attending school in Spain is relatively cheaper than it is in other parts of Europe. Tuition fees at some colleges are even as low as €5,500 per semester and can go up to €12,000 per semester as well – which is still far less than what universities in other parts of Europe and even the US are charging.

Relaxed Atmosphere

The overall atmosphere of most of the cities in Spain is laid back and comfortable. Even though towns such as Madrid and Barcelona are thriving, and popular tourist spots, by and large, Spain is a peaceful country. The people are extremely friendly and you will end up making a whole bunch of friends everywhere you go.

Amazing Culture

Spain has a vibrant and colorful culture full of life and energy. From the plates of tapas, dancing to the beat of a flamenco guitar to wandering narrow streets and afternoon siestas on the beach, Spain is packed with cultural activities all over. You can even spend a night at a historical landmark-turned hotel – known as a Parador. There are over a 100 Paradors spread across the country.

Countless Places to Visit

Spain has a number of wonderful tourist spots that you can visit. Being a culturally and historically rich country, it has a lot to offer, especially for first time visitors.

  • Toledo: Perched on the top of a mountain in central Spain, Toledo was inhabited by Jews, Christians and Muslims for many centuries, hence giving it the name ‘City of Three Cultures’. Come to this culturally rich city if you want to get lost in the medieval streets and admire old architecture.
  • Cordoba: The city is practically a maze of tiny medieval streets, plazas and whitewashed courtyards all placed around the major attraction – the Mezquita. Originally built as a mosque, the Mezquita is now a beautifully constructed cathedral.
  • San Sebastian: The beautiful seaside city is known for its lovely beaches and excellent culinary tradition.
  • Valencia: One of the largest and busiest cities in Spain, Valencia is home to the massive and impressive landmark, the City of Arts and Science. This is host to several buildings such as a science museum, aquarium and a planetarium.
  • Seville: This city is the complete package with amazing tourist attractions, lively festivals and a happening nightlife.
  • Madrid: Known for its energetic nightlife scene, Madrid is Spain’s capital and constitutes a wide variety of ethnic groups, numerous festivals and street performers.
  • Spanish Islands: Spain is home to some of the most beautiful islands in all of Europe. The Canary Islands are popular for their pristine waters and white sand beaches.
  • Granada: This city offers a huge variety of attractions, including a buzzing nightlife, and the world-renowned Alhambra, the historic piece of architecture that encapsulates the history of Andalusia.
  • Barcelona: This is the most famous tourist destination in Spain and has a little bit of everything that you could want. It has wonderful historic European architecture, lively shopping malls, a vibrant nightlife and colorful streets.

Getting to Spain – Visa Considerations

If you are coming to Spain from a European country, you will not require a visa to enter. If you are coming from outside of Europe, and plan to stay for a period of three months or longer, you will need to obtain a visa. Students coming in from the United States do not need a visa for a stay of less than 90 days.

Applying for Visa and Passport

You are advised to apply for a passport and visa as early as possible, because this process may take a few weeks to process. To apply, you will need to complete and submit the relevant paperwork to the Spanish Embassy or with the Consulate in your country. You will be required to have the following before applying:

  • Proof of admission at a university in Spain
  • A passport – if you have one already, make sure it is valid
  • A completed application form
  • Photo ID/Driver’s License
  • Birth Certificate

Bear in mind that you will also be required to submit visa application fees with your application. Only those students who will be attending a full time college will be allowed a visa.

The application requirements for students coming in from the Schengen countries would be a little different. Following are the documents that these individuals would be required to submit:

  • Completed visa application form
  • Two passport size photographs
  • National passport and one copy of the passport
  • Original resident visa
  • A letter from your health insurance company
  • Proof of hotel booking in Spain or airline reservation for Spain, along with a copy
  • Closed round trip or tour ticket
  • Current bank statement, along with a copy
  • A reference letter from your employer or education institute
  • Standard visa fees

Bear in mind that from the date of application submission, the visa takes a maximum of 15 days for processing.  The period can extend to 30 days, depending on the case. The visa fee is €60 and has to be paid to the consulate of Spain.

Specific Visa Requirements for Students

If you are applying for a student visa specifically, keep the following matters in mind:

  • Submit 2 Schengen Application forms
  • The passport must be valid for your intended period of stay in Spain
  • Provide your US driver’s license, US State ID Card and current Student ID card
  • Provide two recent passport size photographs with a white background
  • Provide a letter of acceptance as a full time student from a university in Spain or a Spain-affiliated program, indicating the name, address and registration number of the school to the Spain’s Department of Education; full payment of the required tuition fees, duration of the program, subjects and hours of study per week (which should not be less than 20) need to be provided
  • Health Insurance: A minimum coverage of €30,000 during the planned period of stay in Spain
  • Proof of financial means during your stay

Note: Other documents might be required, therefore check with the Embassy well in time. 

Universities in Spain for International Students

Spain is home to hundreds of internationally recognized universities. The choice for you might become difficult as an international student. Here is a list of universities that are considered to be some of the best for international students:

  • University of Barcelona: One of Spain’s oldest universities, it offers top notch academics to a large student body of around 63,000 students
  • Polytechnic University of Catalonia: Also known as Barcelona Tech, this university is known for its energy efficient campus and high-end research facilities. Students have the option of choosing between 53 bachelor degrees, 119 masters programs (out of which, 21 are taught completely in English) and 59 PhD programs
  • Complutense University of Madrid: Known as the best and among the biggest universities in all of Europe, the Complutense University caters to students from all over the world – including Europe, USA, Middle East and Asia
  • Autonomous University of Madrid: Like Barcelona Tech, the Autonomous University of Madrid has an environmentally sustainable campus with over 1,000 international students. If you are not very confident about your Spanish speaking abilities, the university has an excellent program to teach you the Spanish language and culture
  • University of Seville: The University offers 67 undergraduate programs and 77 master’s degrees to ensure that its students get a wide variety of subject options. The University of Seville also provides each of its students with a laptop to aid the learning process
  • University of Granada: The University has around 13% of its pupil coming from outside of Spain and has nearly 800 exchange agreements with other universities and institutions all over the world. This is an ideal place to study if you are fond of cultural monuments. Granada is also one of the most affordable cities in Spain
  • The University of Almeria: The University has specialized programs in health, experimental sciences, social and legal sciences, humanities and technical studies
  • The University of Cadiz: Also referred to as UCA, this university is known for its programs in medicine, surgery, technology and social services. The university offers four internship programs that allow you to gather real world experience in your desired career area
  • The University of Salamanca: This University is home to over 2,000 international students and is well-known for its Spanish courses for non-native speakers, humanities and law and economics courses

With its long tradition of excellence in education, combined with a vibrant culture, fantastic modernista architecture, sandy beaches and the best night life, this country is truly an all-in-one package for students looking to study abroad in Spain.