With prices dropping, Daniel Ward can’t find any reasons to put off a study trip to Spain
Up until 25 years ago, Spain’s popularity as a tourist destination among other Europeans owed much to the low cost of vacationing there. Since then, prices have increased but the world has woken up to Spain’s history, culture, gastronomy, and natural beauty thus enabling it to remain one of the world’s top tourist destinations. And recently, costs have dropped, making it much more affordable for students.
Spain has been hit particularly hard by the recession, which has led to the stagnation and even reduction of some prices, particularly rents as there is an excess of property on the market in some areas. This combined with the recent gains by the dollar against the euro (€) has made the country particularly attractive to American students.
In terms of basic articles (such as food, toiletries), Spain is one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe. If the average price in Europe is 100, the cost in Spain is 88.
Spain is also one of the European countries with the lowest price variation. The difference in price for the same food or toiletry product between the most expensive and the cheapest retail outlet is 19 percent. In Norway, however, the difference can be as high as 57 percent, in Sweden 47 percent, and in Italy and Portugal up to 41 percent.
For a university student, the comparative advantage of studying in Spain is considerable in financial terms. The average cost of tuition fees charged by universities in the U.S. ($30,000) would cover the entire cost of living in Spain for a year (a university residence in Madrid, including accommodation and meals, costs less than $1,000 per month, and average tuition fees in a private university are around $9,000).
For European Union (EU) students, enrollment fees for bachelor’s degrees (grado) at public universities in Spain vary between $750 and $1,600 per academic year. These fees are established officially by the education authorities in the Autonomous Communities (the regional governments). The amount to be paid each year is fixed by the Autonomous Community itself, within the limits proposed by the Conferencia General de Politica Universitaria (the General Assembly for University Policy) and set by the central government. The cost of official postgraduate studies (master’s and doctoral degrees) taught at both public and private universities is established by the education authorities. However, education in Spain comes under the jurisdiction of the regional governments, which are allowed to increase the amounts set by the central government for universities inside their territories.
Students from outside the EU generally have to pay more than double the EU fees but this is still very reasonable for Americans. For example, the University of Valladolid charges non-EU students 54€ ($71) per credit. Most undergraduate degree programs are based on 240 credits over four years so a year’s tuition works out at only $4,250.
At private universities, the registration fee alone for bachelor’s degrees studies varies between $750 and $1,500 per academic year, depending on the degree, the institution, and the student’s academic performance. The fees at private universities are established by the university itself.
Both at public and private universities, the amount that students pay varies according to the number of credits for which they enroll, the degree course chosen, and their academic performance (students repeating subjects must pay an extra charge when they enroll for the second time).
The fees for official master’s and doctoral degrees at public and private universities are regulated by the government. In the 2011-2012 academic year, the fees are within a range set between $20 and $40 per credit. Therefore, a master’s course comprising 60 credits would cost an EU national between $1,250 and $2,250.
Of course, fees for Spanish language programs at private schools and universities vary but are generally much cheaper than for comparable programs in the U.S.
Rents are estimated to be about a third of prices in the U.S. but expect to pay considerably more in the cool areas of popular cities like Barcelona and Madrid where the cost of living can work out to be double that of less well-known cities like Valencia, Salamanca, or Valladolid.
A recent study found that grocery prices in Spain were about 25 percent lower than in the U.S. but you may have to adjust your consumption habits to really save money. Eating fresh vegetables and fish like the locals works out to be much cheaper than steak and fries. Wine and beer are often cheaper than sodas.
Return flights to Spain can be found for as little as $600 (from New York) and last year, Iberia resumed its direct service from Los Angeles to Madrid (from $850 return). From the end of May until the end of October, Delta is offering direct flights from New York to Valencia.
Studying in Spain is the experience of a lifetime and well worth whatever price you have to pay. But, it’s always nice to get a bargain.
<strong>Daniel Ward</strong> studied at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.
Along Spain’s northeasterly coast lies Cataluña, the region that, perhaps somewhat unfairly, lays claim to both the urban center of Barcelona and the Costa Brava, or “wild coast,” with its rocky coves and turquoise Mediterranean vistas. The autonomous region is also the birthplace of surrealist icon Salvador Dalí and located just outside Barcelona is the museum that honors him, a fanciful burgundy structure crowned with enormous egg sculptures.
Barcelona, Cataluña’s capital, is fêted as cosmopolitan and sophisticated, and evidence in support of these monikers abounds: its Park Güell is only one of Gaudí’s countless architectural marvels with its circuitous benches and slanting colonnades. Santa María del Mar, a medieval Catalan gothic cathedral, was commissioned in honor of the capture of Sardinia, and its construction lends itself impeccably to the occasional concert that takes place inside. The bustling boulevard Las Ramblas is an outstanding example of the spirit of Barcelona, where numerous stands selling flowers, newspapers, or birds and an abundance of street performers, cafes, and terraces enrich the landscape. The exceptional climate and its sandy beaches make Barcelona an attractive tourist proposition year round.
The Catalan language is the pride of its people despite the suppression of its use until the 1970s under Franco’s dictatorship. Thriving in spite of such historical subjugation, this romance language can be heard abundantly throughout the region and is an official language alongside Spanish — its success gives outsiders prime insight into the resilience and determination of the Catalans.
Schools in Barcelona
For two years in a row (2006, 2007), The Wall Street Journal picked ESADE’s MBA program as the best in the world. There is no question that the school owes its reputation mainly to its business programs. However in addition to the business school, tourism, and law schools, ESADE has a prestigious language center. ESADE’s Executive Language Center offers Spanish intensive language courses, not only to foreign students already enrolled in any of the law or business programs, but to anyone interested in Spanish learning. One strong selling point of ESADE-ELC is its Barcelona location. The building was initially meant as a language instruction facility and now hosts both the MBA programs in addition to the language school. Another key to the success of the ELC is the quality of the professors; Delia Castro, head of the Spanish Department, was formerly the Head of the Master’s Program for Teachers of Spanish as a Second Language at the Universitat de Barcelona. The school policy allows a maximum of 10 students per group, facilitating individual attention. ESADE is also open to establishing tailor-made summer programs for foreign universities, which could include Spanish classes, company and cultural visits, and business-related topics, taught in either English or Spanish. Foreign students at ESADE experience life in one of the most beautiful cities in the world while studying Spanish at a prestigious business and language school.
For further info, visit www.esade.edu/spanish/eng
The School of Modern Languages of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), offers intensive Spanish courses running all year with start dates every month and tailor-made programs for groups. Courses enable students to make rapid progress and use Spanish in an effective and practical way. They also introduce students to the cultural and social customs of the country. The school’s teaching method is based on a communicative approach with a special focus on practicing oral expression, which includes interactive activities to develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing. In addition, students learn strategies to continue studying the language on their own. Teachers are qualified and experienced language teaching professionals, dedicated to providing a successful learning experience. The school is in an impressive art nouveau building, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the center of Barcelona. UAB Idiomes Barcelona also offers accommodation, visits to some of the many interesting local sites and events in Barcelona, and exchanges with local students. All courses are certified by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and are valid for university credits.
For further info, visit www.uab.es/uab-idiomes
Students can take 20 or 25 lessons per week for as long as they like, starting any Monday. Classes are held from Monday to Friday during the mornings or afternoons, and have an average of eight students. abcCollege is located in a modern building, custom-built to guarantee effective and comfortable language learning. All classrooms are equipped with audio-visual facilities. The school also has a large conference hall and a computer room with free internet access, as well as a penthouse bar-terrace with panoramic views of Barcelona.
It’s location in the city center, near the Plaza Molina, is well-connected by major metro and bus routes.
Located in the center of Barcelona, Camino Barcelona provides on-site accommodation and offers a wide variety of courses in well-equipped classrooms with a maximum class size of ten. All classrooms are air-conditioned and it has a cafeteria, three sunny terraces, and free wireless internet connection. In the on-site student residence, students have the opportunity to enjoy en suite bathrooms, hydro-massage showers, balconies, modern kitchens, and flat-screen televisions in every apartment. The school is located in a lively street in the Eixample neighborhood, a ten-minute walk from Plaza Cataluña and Las Ramblas. Eixample is famous for its many shops, restaurants, and bars — where there are endless possibilities to meet people.
International House offers a wide range of top quality Spanish language courses in a number of Spain’s most exciting locations. These include Barcelona, Córdoba, Palma de Mallorca, Madrid, San Sebastián, Sevilla, Valencia, and Vejer (Cádiz). Apart from the language courses themselves, each school also provides a long list of other services including an airport meeting and transfer service, accommodation placement, engaging programs of social and cultural activities and opportunities to meet people from the local community. The details of the courses and other services on offer vary to an extent from school to school, but the quality of service is guaranteed by the fact that all the schools share the same rigorous and externally verified standards.
IH Barcelona is located in the center of that sensational city, within easy walking distance of all the most famous landmarks including the gothic quarter, the Ramblas, Gaudi’s most famous buildings, and the city’s sandy beach.
The school has an international reputation and is one of the largest teacher training centers in the world. Every year thousands of students and hundreds of trainee teachers take a course at IH Barcelona.
Students can follow an entire study program at IH Barcelona, or they can combine a period of study in Barcelona with a period spent in one of the other IH centers in Spain. In both cases, full time students from the U.S. can usually obtain study credits for the course from their own university or college.
At inlingua, students begin speaking Spanish from their first lesson. Spanish lessons use the inlingua method and focus on specific language skills such as speaking, grammar, listening, and pronunciation. Moreover, it is the only school within the inlingua network authorized to perform the DELE-exams, which are the only exams leading to official certification in the Spanish language. The inlingua Barcelona Spanish Department is located in an old, recently renovated building in the city center, and is equipped with all facilities necessary for a modern school of languages.
Kate Sommers-Dawes is assistant editor for Language Magazine.
Our school opened in 2002 and offers spanish courses for people from different countries. We offer Intensive Courses for adults and children but also preparation courses for the D.E.L.E. exam and business Spanish.
The school is situated in a very quiet area near the sea and therefore it is possible to hold classes in the garden. In the schools garden there is a swimming pool which invites you to cool off while improving your tan. Our andalusian patio, with its shady trees and a barbeque provides an ideal opportunity to become better acquainted to other students.
In our Arabian style “bodega” we provide computers with free internet access as well as a TV with international channels and a library, where you can rent both movies and books.
The school building consists of seven tastefully decorated classrooms.
Excursions and activities
The Instituto Andalusi offers a variety of excursions and activities, which focus on the Spanish language and culture, such as excursions to Cordoba, Granada, Seville and Morocco but also visits of museums, memorials and churches in Malaga. Moreover we are offering activities in the school building like cooking class of Paella or other Spanish specialities. At the beginning of the course (once in a month) our students are welcomed with a party and at the end of the course (once a month) they get a farewell party. It is also possible to rent cars, motor bikes and bicycles in the school.
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