Getting there was very easy for me. I had taken care of a flight early on and already knew that I would be coming back to Germany over the Christmas period, so I could buy a very cheap return flight with Lufthansa for both of these flights. My host family picked me up from the airport in Madrid – it couldn’t be more convenient.
At first I planned to rent a room in Madrid and, on recommendation, to look for it in Madrid first. During my search from Germany I had mainly found quite expensive accommodation and so the newspaper “Segundamano” in Madrid was recommended to me. In the end, however, it did not come to that, because about 3 weeks before my departure I took up the offer of accommodation with a host family, which had been sent to all foreign students by the Spanish university via the mailing list. This offer had some advantages, which is why I decided against my own apartment:
- I didn’t have to worry about anything on site, but had a fully furnished room
- the accommodation was overall a lot cheaper than the student dormitories
- it was a kind of “full board”, ie with 3 meals, laundry, cleaning, 24h internet, so to speak “like with mom” 😉
- I had Spaniards around me all the time, not just at university, which definitely made it a lot easier for me to get used to the language
- I had people from the start who introduced me to Spanish society
- I got to know the culture absolutely – although, I have to say that my host family were Argentinians who are a bit different from the “real Spaniards”, but so I even lived a bit “bilingual”
As it turned out when I arrived, I had done well not to look for a room in Madrid, as my university was divided into two locations, with one part in Madrid and the second about 40 minutes outside. The latter was the part where all of my lectures were held. I was able to reach it on foot in about 25 minutes. Overall, however, I was a bit cut off from the outside world in my place of residence, as there were no public buildings in the place apart from the university and a small kiosk where you could buy at least the 10 bus tickets to Madrid. The next larger towns could be reached on foot in an hour and by bus (every ½ hour) in about 10 minutes. There were also grocery stores and other small shops there. Apart from this,Overall, however, my accommodation was super nice and pleasant !
My host family took great care of all kinds of food. There is a cafeteria at the university itself, but I never used it and therefore cannot comment on it. There is also a cafeteria that offers everything from breakfast to small hot meals. However, all of these facilities close at around 4 p.m.
Means of transport, distances
Apart from the bus mentioned above, I experienced Madrid as a city with excellent transport facilities. Once in Madrid, the center could be crossed very easily on foot and places a little further out could easily be reached by metro. To visit cities in the area, there are inexpensive intercity buses that depart regularly from three different bus stations in the city center (for times see Internet), but also, especially when it is a little further and you want to have something from the day, the local trains from “Atocha”.
Sport and freetime
According to Educationvv, the sports program at the university initially seemed quite diverse, but it is a very small university and so there was never enough people to found a volleyball team. So instead I joined the women’s indoor soccer team, which played in a league against 8 other universities in Madrid during the semester. However, the sports equipment at the university itself is miserable. There are two “sports halls”, which consist of two large party tents over asphalted sports fields. You can imagine that training in winter is not very inviting. There’s also a fitness room somewhere, but I never went to it.
Throughout the semester, e-mails kept coming through the mailing list with information about sporting excursions or events organized by the university. Diving, riding, cycling, skiing, canoeing, etc. were offered. Most went over several days and were quite expensive (up to € 400).
Otherwise, the university is located in a very beautiful hilly area, where hikes are absolutely worthwhile. A “must” for leisure activities in Madrid itself is an evening “tapas tour”, preferably with a local guide.
In addition to the sporting events, the university offered various excursions for foreign students, from museum tours, which were free, to day tours to Toledo, Salamanca, El Escorial, etc., which cost € 30 each, including a round trip, Guided tour on site and museum admission. Usually these tours could be organized more cheaply if you waived the guided tour.
My living expenses were by and large limited to the monthly payments to my host family and since I simply bought a cell phone card from Telefonica for my cell phone, which can be topped up easily at almost every corner, I had no further financial needs.
Language course / language skills
Before my semester abroad, I had already had Spanish lessons for five years, or Spanish courses at the university. Therefore, I decided not to take any other language courses in Spain and instead took all courses in Spanish instead of also listening to lectures in English. At first I had some difficulties understanding, especially when it was a question of taking notes and not having a script.
However, my fellow students were very patient and after about 6 weeks I understood everything except for one word or another. From the outset, I had no problems with understanding the facts, as these, once written down, were easy to understand for me.
The range of lectures was very extensive with regard to the focus on economics, but also with regard to other major subjects such as tourism, marketing and law.
The international students were well looked after right from the start. In the week before the start of the semester, an introductory event took place at the university, during which we were familiarized with the campus, the contact persons for us and a few rules. We then had the opportunity to enroll in our courses online. There was the opportunity to change courses again during the first 2 weeks, which I didn’t take advantage of.
The International Office was open almost at all times and responses to inquiries by e-mail were quick. I could use the fax machine there for university documents at any time. During the semester, people regularly asked about my health and progress in the courses when I met on campus. That was possible because the university is so small and the faces are easily known after a short time.