In May 2014 I thought about studying somewhere abroad instead of at my home university for the following semester. My goal was to go to a Spanish-speaking country because Spanish is a part of my economics degree and that would be the easiest way for me to improve.
Due to the short notice for the registration, the Latin American countries were no longer up for discussion, as I should have planned more preparation time for this. So I decided on Spain. Unfortunately, the time was already too far advanced for a stay abroad via Erasmus, you have to send your application at least 1 year in advance. Then I came across MicroEDU through the recommendation of a few fellow students. On the website, I was able to choose either Madrid or Barcelona, with Madrid ultimately being the choice. The main reason for this was that I wanted to learn the correct “standard Spanish” (Castellano) and I didn’t really like the Catalan language as it is spoken in Barcelona and is a mix of French and Spanish. I also wanted to go to the capital of Spain once, as I’ve visited Barcelona many times.
Now that I had decided on a city, all I had to do was choose the university. I knew immediately that it would be the Nebrija Universidad. I also had a very detailed and nice conversation with Tatjana, who explained everything about the university and the application process. Thanks again for that !!
For the application, a confirmation of the grades you had collected from your home university in Germany, a description of the German grading system, two passport photos, a copy of your identity card, the completed application form from MicroEDU, the contact form and a copy of your health insurance were required.
In principle, the European health insurance card (the EU symbol is on the back) is sufficient, but only the costs of the services that would be paid for the equivalent in Germany are paid. However, it is best to take out private supplementary travel health insurance, for example from HUK Coburg or Allianz. In addition, you have to make a provisional course selection, which you can refine on site, and only then is final and binding. You can choose a maximum of 5 courses, each of which results in 6 ECTS. If you choose more than 5 courses, it costs accordingly.
In general, the application process was very easy. According to Anycountyprivateschools, the application deadline was July 1st for the winter semester and I only submitted everything shortly beforehand. I completed all of the documents within 2 days, sent them to MicroEDU and a few days later I received my approval.
From home I have an apartment directly booked through the website Wimdu.com, so my efforts of finding accommodation spared. Nevertheless, I arrived on August 20th to get to know the city in advance, to settle in a bit, to study the way to university and of course to make a few friends.
In retrospect, however, I would recommend that you look for an accommodation on site, because you can really see what it looks like in the apartment and with which possibly more unpleasant roommates you have to live with. Furthermore, looking for an apartment in Spain is far less complicated than in Germany. On the websites idealista.com, segundamano.es, or easypiso.com you can make appointments and view the apartments on the same day. It is pleasant that there is no crowd of people who want to visit the apartment, but you are usually the only interested party together with maybe one or two other people. In order to easily find out everything about the apartment and how it relates to the monthly costs and any special features, it is helpful to at least master the basics of the Spanish language, as the Spaniards don’t like to switch to English. Although I rented the apartment in advance, I still recommend looking for an apartment on your own, as my other fellow students have only had positive experiences with it and I got into difficulties with booking the apartment from Germany. The cancellation conditions were very strict, the commission to the agency was set too high, and the rooms were much darker and smaller than shown on the Internet screenshots.
In order to withdraw money, I opened an account at the DKB in Germany, with which you can get cash free of charge at all Visa machines. The account is not associated with any other costs, you even get generous interest.
There are two campuses; The Dehesa de la Villa campus is close to the urban area and can be easily reached with metro line 7 (get off at Estación Francos Rodriguez), but then you have to walk 15 minutes to the university, always taking one on the right Can throw a view of the beautiful park. If you do the Spanish Plus Program, most of the courses take place here. With other Spanish students it is less likely that you come into contact, as the majority of your fellow students are Americans and Chinese.
The other campus, located on the outskirts of the city in a huge wooded area (Parque Regional de la Cuenca Alta del Manzanares), can only be reached by bus that leaves from the Moncloa metro station. Mainly Spanish-language courses take place on this campus, with an increasing number of Latin American students. However, there are numerous other options for getting in contact with local students: For example, from October / November the Club de Intercambio always takes place on the Dehesa campus, in which almost only Spaniards take part (at least that’s how I experienced it). There are then opportunities to exchange ideas and attend complementary seminars for which there are also a small number of ECTS.
Before the course starts in mid-September, there is the opportunity to take part in a 2-week Spanish grammar and conversation intensive course from September 1st I would advise everyone to take this course because it prepares and warms you up for the new language. You can also get to know a few new people.
As for the choice of courses, I chose the Spanish Plus Program. I also took 4 courses in English and one in Spanish. In retrospect, however, I regret it a little not to have chosen courses in Spanish. I could have done this well, but at first I didn’t trust myself to do it. Specifically, I took the courses in International Business, International Relations and European Union, for example, although I didn’t like International Relations that much, as it was sometimes very dry and theoretical and sometimes you couldn’t keep up with understanding. I can recommend the subject European Union read by a Spanish lecturer. It was very interesting and practical and if you are eager to do it, you will be rewarded with very good grades.
When I arrived in Madrid at the end of August, it was still very hot with temperatures around 40 ° C and blazing sunshine, but the heat was relatively easy to bear because it was very dry. In no case should you forget your sunscreen and a cap !!!
The summer continued for a long time and still held by the end of October, from when it was gradually cooler then. It didn’t rain that often, but there were a few weekends when it was thunderstorm and the streets were partially flooded. In December it is generally colder, so you should reserve a corner in your suitcase for warm clothes for your stay. The cold is felt to be quite pleasant during the day, however, as the sun is almost always shining and still gives off some heat.
Leisure life and nightlife
In Madrid there are countless opportunities to pass the time while studying ; you practically never get bored. The organization of his free time goes from visiting cultural institutions and parks to taking the cable car (Teleférico), which offers a wonderful panorama over the city, to the most diverse party locations such as Kapital, Shoko, Moondance. In Spain, however, if you are planning to go to the disco, you should pay attention to the local times. The Spaniards hardly open before 2 a.m., but first go to various tapas bars or cafes or sit around in the streets. You should also invest a lot of time for a party evening, because I was rarely home before 8 a.m. So you have to adapt to the cultural circumstances.
From Madrid I have also traveled to various other large cities such as Salamanca or Valencia, but I was also in Andalusia in the cities of Seville, Cordoba and Granada, which is highly recommended. I mostly traveled by long-distance bus or train (Renfe), which are even cheaper than in Germany. Booking them is also very easy, good organization!
I would also recommend going up El Circulo de Bellas Artes, from which you have a great view of the city both by day and by night.
The metro is the fastest means of transport to get from A to B. It’s easy to use, wasn’t late during my stay, and is well signposted so you can’t get lost or lost. And if you do, there are all the free Metromaps that will help you get back on track. To be able to travel with it, you need a Tarjeta de transporte público, or Metrocard for short. You have to register them online at ctm-madrid.es, but you can also have them printed out on Calle Fuencarral, but this costs € 5 more.
In the end, I’m really happy to have done this semester abroad and I don’t regret it for a single day. It brings you forward in your personality and career and you will never forget what you have experienced and what great people you have met. In the end it was very difficult to say goodbye, but it was agreed that they would see each other again soon.