Which Spanish university should I choose to study at?

Salamanca- image by wild10.org

Here at GoStudySpain, we offer a choice of four different cities in the country: Madrid, Barcelona, Salamanca and Malaga. They are all major Spanish cities and are all very distinct, with well-established universities. You may already have a clear idea of where exactly you want to study abroad, however, if you are having trouble choosing between the four, read on…

Madrid: the capital city

As the capital of Spain, Madrid is not only the biggest city in the country, but also the third largest in Europe, with a total of 6.5 million inhabitants. It is located in the centre of Spain and is a diverse, cosmopolitan city with residents from all corners of the world. With a variety of cultural attractions, including the Royal Palace and the Plaza Mayor, there is always something to see and do. Madrid is famed especially for its museums; some of the most notable are the Prado (which is the biggest art gallery in the world) and the Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Madrid experiences hot summers and cooler winters, with chances of rain. The coldest month is January, with an average of 6°C (42°F), whilst the hottest months are July and August, with an average of 25°C (77°F).

The Complutense University of Madrid was founded in 1293, making it one of the oldest universities in the world. There is a large community of international students, which comprise 4000 of the total student population of 130,000. Many of the student organisations arrange special events for foreign students, warmly welcoming them to the university.

Madrid is well-connected to all other major Spanish cities, which means that day or weekend trips are easy to arrange. However, given that it is the capital city, Madrid is the most expensive city to live in within the country. Another potential drawback is that, due to its location within Spain, it is not even close to any beaches, which could prove frustrating- especially in the boiling hot summers.madrid-image by www.traveler.es

Barcelona: Spain’s ‘second capital’

The second biggest city in Spain (with a population of 4.5 million), Barcelona is the capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia. It is situated in the northeast of the country, on the coast. Renowned for its architecture, places of interest include Las Ramblas, Park Guell and La Sagrada Familia.

Summers in Barcelona are hot (and therefore the perfect time to enjoy the various beaches), while winters are cooler. With an average of 9°C (48°F), the coldest month is January, whilst the hottest month is August, with an average of 25°C (77°F).

Founded in 1968, the Autonomous University of Barcelona consists of a total of 37,000 students. Spanish courses take place in the language school, situated in the city centre. The University also offers foreign students the opportunity to study certain courses in English in order to achieve credits.

One disadvantage of studying Spanish in Barcelona is that both Catalan and Castellano (Spanish) are spoken and both have co-official status. Many signs and notices will appear in both languages, and as they can be quite similar, this could possibly confuse some students, particularly those with a basic level of Spanish. Additionally, Barcelona is also an expensive place to live in within Spain.barceloneta-beach- imgae by www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com

Salamanca: the prestigious university town

A UNESCO World Heritage City, Salamanca lies in the northwest of the country. Home to approximately 200,000 inhabitants, of which roughly 20% are students, it is well-known for its university, which is the oldest and most distinguished in Spain. The fact that it is a student city lends it an air of diversity, especially as many students are international. Major attractions include the cathedral, the Plaza Mayor and the old university buildings.

Salamanca enjoys a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, with hot summers (highs of 29°C (84°F) in July) and cold winters (lows of 0°C (32°F) between December and February).

There is no doubt that the University of Salamanca, founded in 1218, is the most prestigious university in Spain, with famous alumni including Hernán Cortés and Miguel de Cervantes. The quality of Spanish language teaching at the University is exceptional; it even writes the yearly DELE exam papers (the official exam for Spanish as a foreign language). Its specialised Spanish courses are taught in the historic centre of the city.

One particular advantage that the city offers to foreign students of Spanish is the Salamancan accent, which is often regarded as the ‘purest’ Spanish accent, and therefore easy to understand. The city is also fairly inexpensive to live in. However, despite being a student city, Salamanca is not very large and therefore students used to living in big cities could find that there is only a limited selection of things to do. salamanca- image by www.happytellus.com

 Malaga: the Andalusian beach city

When most people think of Spain, the first things that spring to mind are flamenco, bullfighting and guitars. These are characteristics typical of the autonomous community of Andalusia, in which the city of Malaga is located. Home to 600,000 inhabitants, it is the sixth-largest city in the country and the business centre of Southern Spain. Places of interest include Gibralforo Castle, the Picasso Museum (Picasso is one of Malaga’s most famous inhabitants), the Roman theatre and the beaches. Malaga is in close proximity to other Andalusian cities such as Seville, Granada and Cadiz and it is also easy to travel to Gibraltar and Morocco, making it a good base town from which to carry out day or weekend trips.

With approximately 300 days of sun, Malaga enjoys a subtropical Mediterranean climate. Summers are scorching hot, with daily highs of 30°C (86°F), and winters are very mild, averaging 12°C (53°F) in the coldest month, January.

Don’t be put off by Malaga’s association with cheap tourism on the Costa del Sol- tourists stick to coastal destinations such as Marbella and Torremolinos and hardly ever venture into the city. Malaga is therefore an inexpensive city in which to live.

The University of Malaga, founded in 1972, has a lively community of foreign students, making up 5000 of the total student population of 43,000. The location of the university campus for foreign students of Spanish is separate from the main campus, which means that it could prove problematic to interact with Spanish students. However, foreign students can still access the main campus and all its facilities.

Potential disadvantages of studying Spanish in Malaga could include the fact that malagueños speak with a strong Andalusian accent- which includes dropping letters at the end of words. Initially, it could be difficult to understand this particular dialect.malaga beach- www.spain-holiday.com

So now it is up to you to weigh up all of the factors and determine what is more important to you personally- do you hope to study at a prestigious university? In that case, Salamanca or Madrid are good choices. If you crave the hustle and bustle of life in a big city then Madrid or Barcelona would be perfect. Malaga or Barcelona would suit sun worshippers and those wanting to live near the beach would feel at home in either. For those with a tight budget, Malaga and Salamanca are wise choices. Nevertheless, do bear in mind that wherever in Spain you decide to go, you are bound to have a fantastic experience- being able to learn the language and immerse yourself in the vibrant Spanish culture.