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Erasmus Life in Madrid

Published by Paola Mužić — one year ago

0 Tags: Erasmus experiences Madrid, Madrid, Spain


Why Madrid?

I always knew I would go on Erasmus and, as soon as I became student, I applied for it. I have visited Spain before and I have few Spanish friends so I was sure that Spain would be a perfect match for me.

When I saw the list of possible Erasmus destinations, it did not take me long to decide, especially since I always wanted to experience life in a big city such as Madrid. I knew that Madrid is the heart of Spain so what could be better way to experience the real joy of Spanish lifestyle than living in it?! Not only that, I knew that Madrid would give me the opportunity to travel all around Spain and even abroad!

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Student lifestyle

For me the student lifestyle is perfect. First of all, it is quite similar to the one at my home university so it wasn't a big change. My university, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, has the whole campus with classes taught in English so it was pretty easy to find substitutes for my courses, and it also means I have no trouble understanding them.

That's from studying point of view. As for the student lifestyle in general, I couldn't wish for better! There are many advantages for students in Madrid, such as free entry in museums, really cheap transport card (only 20€ per month for the bus, metro and regional buses) and others. Madrid is full of students, from international to local ones. That way you don't have to worry about finding friends. They are waiting for you everywhere you go! There are many events where you can meet people with the same interests as yours, as well as many organisations (ESN) trying to make your life in Madrid as good as possible. I must say that I enjoy my student life much more than at home.

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Spanish food

As a person who likes to travel, I appreciate every culture and its gastronomy. I like Spanish food, but even if you don't like it, Madrid offers many different types of food (Indian, Mexican, Greek, Asian, etc).

My favourite thing to eat in Spain is their typical breakfast- tostada iberica. Tosted bread with olive oil, tomato and jamon! And the best thing is that everywhere you go you can take freshly squeezed orange juice. Believe me, tostada and zumo de naranja are the best things to start your day with!

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Of course, I don't spend every day eating out, especially because I enjoy cooking. I tend to cook during the week and then at weekends go out and try something new. The thing I like is that you have supermarkets on every corner so it is really easy to buy food. Prices are decent and most of the time I find whatever I'm looking for. It may not seem so important now, but I think it is also good to know these things.

Finding accommodation in Madrid

In the beginning, this seems like the hardest thing about moving to a foreign city. It was also a bit stressful for me since I have never visited Madrid before so I didn't have any clue about where should I look for, what are the average prices, etc.

Luckily, there are many agencies helping you find accommodation. There are sites such as Uniplaces where you can easily and safely find what you are looking for. Also, some students’ organizations, such as ESN, offer discount promo codes. In my opinion, I’d rather pay the fee and be sure in the apartment I am renting. If nothing, at least it gives you some kind of guarantee.

How much does it cost to live in Madrid?

I must say I spend lot of money for living. I am a person who likes to go out and do lot of things during the week so of course that way you spend more. My accommodation is quite expensive, 500 € per month, but there are also cheaper types of accommodation. The fact that I'm not living in the centre means that I often use Uber when returning home. The cost of living really depends on many things so I think you can make yourself a "plan" on how much you want to spend monthly. It also depends on your home country. As for me, Spain is more expensive than my country but, for example, for a person coming from France, it is cheaper.

About language

I knew Spanish before coming here so I didn't have any problem. I think if you have had any courses, you will easily start talking Spanish.

The thing is, some people in Spain are not that good in English (I'm talking about people working in public sectors) so sometimes you are forced to speak Spanish. That can be hard if you don't know a word of it, but it also makes you improve faster.

There are different ways of learning it once you are there as well. My university, URJC, offers Spanish courses at a reasonable price. Many of my friends took it and they were pretty satisfied with it. However, you must know that if you want to learn it, you have to practice. So my advice, use every chance you can to speak it!

Travel to Madrid

I'm coming from Croatia, Rijeka. The problem is that my city has a really small airport that is not so well connected so whenever I am traveling, I first have to drive to the airport of Zagreb, Trieste or Venice.

Unlike my city, Madrid is perfect in that segment. Airport is part of the city and well connected to every corner of Madrid. You can reach airport by metro and from the city centre it doesn’t take more than an hour. From where I live in Madrid, it takes me around 30 minutes. You can also take the bus, taxi or Uber. That’s a really good thing for foreign people because you don't have to lose lot of time or money trying to reach your accommodation. I find that a real advantage, since most of big cities have airport outside of the city.

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Nightlife in Madrid

Madrid has so many clubs and bars. It's hard to name just one. It depends on the type of music you like, among other preferences. But I'm sure there is always something for everyone!

One very popular club is Teatro Kapital. It’s a really big club on seven floors where you have different type of music on each floor. I think everyone should go there at least once since it is a really cool thing to experience.

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The thing I enjoy about Madrid’s night life is that it is always lively. There are always people and the atmosphere is great. You can literally go out every day in the week and it will always be full. Besides all the clubs, there are many cool places where you can go for a drink with friends and have a great time drinking their typical drink- sangria.

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Eating & Restaurants

I have been to so many tapas bars that I can't even remember all the names. It is also a custom in Spain to go for tapas. Tapas are smaller portions of food that you get along with your drink, sometimes even for free. What I love about bars and coffee shops in Madrid is that aside from the drinks, they always have food as well.

Recently I tried Goiko Grill and Steak House, they offer burgers, which, of course, is not a traditional food, but they were really tasty. I like the restaurant La Galeria, nice place in one of my favourite spots in Madrid, Retiro Park.

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As we are students we don't go so much to restaurants, we prefer going to bars where you can grab something small to eat. And the good thing is they are everywhere!

Good sites to visit

There are some MUST see in Madrid such as:

  • Palacio Royal
  • Gran Via street
  • Park Retiro
  • Templo de Debod
  • Puerta de Alcalá
  • Plaza de Cibeles
  • Plaza Mayor

There are also many museums but so far I have only visited Prado. There are many theaters as well. One place I firmly recommend is Circulo de Bellas Artes-rooftop terrace where you have a breath-taking panorama over Madrid.

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Palacio Royal

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View from Circulo de Bellas Artes

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Templo de Debod

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Prado museum

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Retiro

In Madrid there are lot of parks and nice places where you can just go and spend lovely time with your friends. So far, I spent 4 months in Madrid and I still have a long list of things I want to do and see. Such a big city has a lot of things to offer and you can never be bored.

The best place in Madrid to go see the sunset besides Templo de Debod, is Parque del Cerro del Tío Pío also known as Parque de 7 tetas. Perfect for doing a picnic, listening to music and just enjoying the view with your friends.

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Travelling around Spain

Best thing about my Erasmus life is traveling! Madrid is helping me so much to make my travel dreams come true.

Madrid is placed right in the centre of Spain which gives you the opportunity to easily go around Spain. It is well connected by plane, buses and trains. And the best thing of all is the price: possibility to travel with low cost airlines as well as cheap bus tickets.

Once I travelled to Malaga for only 30€ return ticket in a really nice and comfortable bus. Not only that, but as I mentioned before, the student transport card allows you to use regional buses. That gives you opportunity to visit smaller cities around Madrid such as Toledo and Alcalá de Henares for free!

Up until now, I have visited Sevilla, Granada, Málaga, Toledo and Cuenca. I will write more about those places as well so keep checking my profile!

I have also travelled to France twice, to visit Paris & Toulouse from Madrid.

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Granada

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Málaga

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Toledo

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Sevilla

ESN URJC

I would also like to mention this organisation as an important part of my Madrid experience.

This group of students, or as they like to call it, friends helping friends, indeed helped out me a lot. In the very beginning, before even coming to Madrid, they answered all of my questions and doubts about accommodation, university and everything else I was wondering about.

Once I arrived, they made sure none of us feel lonely and they organised all sorts of events. During those events, I met many people, people that eventually became friends for life. Besides just events, they organised trips, amazing trips I will never forget.

So for all future Madrid Erasmus students, I advise you to keep supporting these kind volunteers and to be part of their events and trips because they are the best organisation for international students in Madrid!

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P. S.

Madrid is a beautiful city and when someone asks me what is there to see I always find it hard to explain because, in my opinion, you can't just see Madrid, you must feel it. I am so glad I chose Madrid because I think that, if I went to see it just as a tourist destination, I wouldn't be as impressed with it as I am now. The real joy of it comes once you start to live the life like locals do. If you are an outgoing and open person who likes to have fun, Madrid is indeed the right place for you. The vibes, the people, the food, the lifestyle, everything is so special, so perfect!

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Are you thinking about studying in Spain? Do you know what the cost of public universities there are? Read this article to find out!


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