All the information you'll ever need about living in Madrid as an expat. From how to buy a train ticket to the best places to watch the football.
Why you should study in Madrid
I don’t know about you but this time of year is a bit grim isn’t it? Christmas and all those festivities have gone, cold days, no bank holidays for ages, summer is six months away still...
January is also a time when we tend to assess what we are doing and what our plans are for the year ahead. Some of you reading this may be thinking of studying abroad in the next academic year so let me help you out by explaining why Madrid should be your choice of destination.
1 – Learn Spanish:
Studying in Madrid will give you the chance to immerse yourself in Spanish, the world’s third most spoken language behind Mandarin and English. With many employers today looking more international profiles, the need to speak languages is more important than ever. The best way to learn is to throw yourself in at the deep end! Don’t worry though, if you’d still rather study your degree in English, many universities in Madrid have options to do so.
2 – A hub of opportunities:
As the Spanish capital, Madrid is the country’s main center for business. It’s a major financial and banking hub while it also has a strong industry and service sector. Because of the presence of many international companies, Madrid is a great place to make future work contacts and should you decide to stay post-studies there are ample opportunities to find work or internships.
3 – Great location
Madrid is in the heart of Spain and is in a perfect location to explore the whole Iberian Peninsula and beyond. As well as all the art and cultural offering Madrid has, there are a number of towns and cities nearby to enjoy a day trips to such as Toledo, Segovia and Alcalá de Henares. There are superb transport links to other cities in Spain with high speed trains allowing you to be in places such as Valencia and Sevilla in just a couple of hours. A number of low cost airlines operate out of the main airport located to the east of Madrid, allowing you to head off and explore Europe at weekends and during holidays.
4 – Cost of living
Considering it is one of the major European capitals, Madrid is a very affordable city to live in – an important factor when you may be working on a strict student budget. Rent, eating out, travel passes are all very considerably priced and with student discounts applicable in many places such as stores and cinemas you can make your money go further.
5 – Culture, culture, culture
Madrid is famous for its art museums: The Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen form the city’s ‘Golden Triangle of Art’ and draw millions of visitors every year. In addition, Madrid has many wonderful buildings, parks and plazas to be enjoyed. Throughout the year there are a number of fiestas that reflect the Spanish culture and way of life as well as processions such as the Cabalgata on January 5 and the solemn processions throughout Holy Week.
6 – Food
As I mentioned in my previous post, Spanish people take their eating seriously and Madrid reflects the nation’s love of food. There is no shortage of bars in the city serving a wonderful array of tapas, while there are also many restaurants catering to all types of international foods, from American burger joints to Asian-fusion. If you do decide to come to Madrid to study, try the local madrileño dishes though – cocido (a stew made up of vegetables, chickpeas, chorizo and pork), huevos rotos (literally translated as ‘broken eggs’ – chips served with a gooey fried egg on top and pieces of jamon or chorizo), or a bocadillo de calamares (fried squid sandwich).
7 – The weather
Madrid has what is known as a warm-temperate subtropical climate. Located at 650m above sea level it experiences cool-mild winter temperatures and very hot summers. Should you choose to study a degree here, more than anything you will notice how blue the skies are year round. Madrid is one of the sunniest locations in Europe with around 3,000 sunshine hours every year – more than double some cities in northern Europe.
Madrid is a unique city with its own rhythm and buzzing atmosphere. The locals are warm and friendly and will make you feel at home immediately and the way of life is relaxed and fun. The food and the brilliant weather mean it is a superb place to come and study and live. You’ll love it.