Seamless Transition: A Comprehensive Guide to Moving for Your Spanish Study Adventure

Is moving to Spain with a study abroad program on your bucket list? With its wonderful climate, rich cultural heritage, beautiful cities and exquisite beach resorts, Spain has plenty to offer students wanting to broaden their horizons.

With 21 countries citing Spanish as their official tongue, moving to Spain is a fantastic way to arm yourself with a valuable new language, while enjoying a vibrant country full of contrasts and history. From Moorish architecture, to Cervantes, Velasquez and Gaudi, Spain has produced some of the world’s most celebrated art.

Spain’s cuisine is world class too – what could be better than a selection of tapas and a glass of gazpacho on a summer’s day?

Here we present a compact but complete guide to how to make your transition to Spain as smooth and painless as possible.

Exploring and Adapting to New Spanish Environment

When moving to Spain to study abroad, climate might take a bit of getting use to if you hail from Anchorage or the Pacific Northwest. There are three main climate zones: the Mediterranean south and east coasts, the continental interior and the oceanic north and northwest.

Madrid, the capital of the country, registers summer temperatures ranging between highs of 26-32°C and rarely drop below 10°C in winter. In coastal Barcelona, winter temperatures are water and the cool sea air gives an average summer high of 29°C.

The rain in Spain does fall mainly on the plain. Not only a movie quote (My Fair Lady), but a real fact with the hottest summer months in Madrid seeing just 10-22mm of precipitation, and Seville is even drier. So do buy and use sunscreen if you have light skin – you’ll need it.

Economically, the Euro is a little weak against the US Dollar at time of writing. We advise you to obtain a multi-currency debit card to use while you are abroad, since exchanging money will always involve transaction fees. Most credit cards are accepted in Spain, including Visa, Mastercard and Amex.

Getting though the airport for the first time

Key Steps for a Smooth Move to Your Spanish Study Destination

Before you make your move to Spain, here are some things to arrange in advance:

1) Obtain a Type C or D Visa

A Type C visa allows a study trip of between 90 and 180 days which a Type D permits students to live in Spain for more than 180 days. With the Type D visa, you should also receive a TIE Residency Card, which is a form of visitor’s ID you can use to prove your age and identity during your stay. To obtain these visas you’ll have to prove that you have at least $700USD per month to cover your living expenses.

2) Arrange gap year travel insurance

Obtain gap-year specific cover which includes medical and liability protection. EU and European Economic Area (EEA) nationals can obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which provides them with free visits to Spain’s public hospitals and health centres. Americans and other non-EU/EEA visitors are required to prove they have adequate health coverage before being issued with a visa.

3) Ensure you have a roaming contract on your cell

This is an easy one to forget. You should check that you have international roaming activated, and that your contract will cover any enhanced call or data charges you might accrue. It could be worth opting for an unlimited data and calls contract: all those calls home can easily mount up. Providers such as HolaFly can make your life easier

4) Obtain a criminal records check

If you are staying for over 180 days (Type-D visa) you are required to show a criminal record certificate for the last country in which you resided. A local police check may suffice, but US citizens can also obtain a national FBI records check. Do this well in advance since some government agencies may take their time in responding.

5) Tell your bank and credit card providers

Financial institutions have developed security measures to prevent theft and fraud, which can be triggered when the card is used overseas. If your card is suddenly being used in another country, and you haven’t forewarned your bank, it could easily be blocked.

6) Know your city

Buy a good travel guide and read up on the city you’re moving to, plus the locality in which you’ll be living and studying. Find out about transport, local amenities, sports centres, and libraries so you won’t be struggling to find your feet. Why not take a Google Streetview walk around your new neighbourhood?

backpack traveler group
study abroad student at a market in Cadiz

Addressing Common Transition Challenges: Tips for Success

Moving to a new country, even temporarily, can be daunting. Here are some tips to ensure you make the transition with ease:

1) Get to know any housemates in advance

If you’re going to be sharing a residence, get to know your new host family or housemates before you arrive. A few video calls to virtually meet one another will make that “getting to know you” period less awkward. Morever, reading blogs from other students’ moving to Spain to study abroad will make your adaption smoother.

2) Learn some phrases before you go

The locals will appreciate your attempts to be polite in their mother tongue. Simple greetings, please and thank yous, directions, and phrases for ordering food and drink can go a long way. Be warned that English is not as commonly spoken as you might think.

3) Learn a bit of history and culture.

You’ll feel more at home, and more excited about your visit if you’ve learned a little about the region in which you’ll be staying. There are many great travel books to offer a flavour of the rich and diverse Spanish culture.

4) Set a budget

Unless you’re working while you study, you’ll have to make your money last. Create a list of your likely outgoings and try to budget accordingly. You’ll want to avoid maxing out those credit cards and paying unnecessary interest.

5) Plan how you’ll move your possessions

If you’re taking anything with you, and it won’t all fit in suitcases, then partner with an experienced international relocation expert. They’ll know all the pitfalls and can provide moving advice for your overseas adventure.

Embracing Clean Beginnings and Endings in Your Spanish Study Journey

You’ll want to ensure the first few weeks, and your last few weeks of your Spanish experience run smoothly. Planning is everything. Don’t leave everything to the last minute and lean on the advice and experience of those who have made the journey before.

You’re about to take an exciting step and open whole new vistas of experience. So don’t live la vida loca, live la vida española al máximo!*


*live Spanish life to the maximum!

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