Stunning architecture, sea views, and sandy beaches, vivid and passionate culture, superb cuisine — hese are just some of the many reasons why Spain's second-largest city is a wonderful place to live. And to study, as Barcelona is home to some of this country's most prestigious universities. Both traditional and innovative universities along with state-of-the-art campuses welcome thousands of international students every year. Let’s take a look at what allures them:
A Plethora of Study Programs
The possibilities are varied when it comes to studyf programs — languages, the arts, information technology, engineering, design, the sciences, you name it — and quite a few are taught in English. For instance, the IED Barcelona Master's Degree in Design Management is an innovative study program that equips students not only with theoretical but also practical knowledge. By mastering an array of skills, students gain and broaden their experience. As a result, they become committed and dedicated design-management specialists.
Among other great universities worth mentioning — and whose graduates are highly likely to get good jobs — are the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB), the Universitat de Barcelona (UB), and the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF). The UPC is the top choice of international students as it offers a wide variety of international joint programs, though most students will will have to commute since the campus is is around 30 minutes by train from the city center (as is UAB). Meanwhile, UB is located at the heart of the city, and UPF near the also central port area.
Student IDs Get Great Discounts
By enrolling at any university in Europe, students are issued the International Student Identity Card (ISIC). This student card is valid all across the continent, and Spain is no exception. With valid student IDs, students can get high discounts and exclusive deals. Visitors to most cultural and historic landmarks have to pay for the tickets which aren’t always cheap. However, students who have their student ID with them can use it to receive a good discount. Also, some hostels, airlines, and travel agencies organize special tours and travels for students only. This is a good opportunity to visit other cities and explore other cultures. Even more so if the travel expenses are low. Before purchasing any tickets or sightseeing, international students should inform themselves about possible discounts and deals.
Bonding Over Tapas & Beer
An indispensable part of the study-abroad experience is meeting new people and exploring an unfamiliar culture. Tapas bars are an excellent place for bonding with classmates over delicious food and beer. Hanging out after classes is a great opportunity for relaxing, mastering the language, or watching a football match on the TV. Spanish people are huge and passionate football fanatics, so there is always some football game to watch with friends.
Apart from being a major tourist attraction, central Barcelona's Las Ramblas promenade is also home to numerous restaurants and bars. However, given the location, students will have to dig into their pockets to dine in any of these places. Meanwhile, strolling south of Liceu Theater looking for dining options might not be a good idea late in the evening. Students, especially international ones, should be aware of pickpockets and stay away from dark alleys.
Lots of Nightlife, Both Wild & Laid Back
Attending lectures, studying, and taking exams is an important part of every student’s life. However, there are so many other activities largely contributing to great study abroad experience. One of those is hitting the town with friends and colleagues. Many Spanish cities and resort towns are notorious for wild nightlife and Barcelona is one of the most. Except at the moment when pandemic curfews drastically close down nightspots early, most people here don’t go clubbing before midnight and many party until sunrise. Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city with numerous restaurants, bars, and clubs, from more traditional ones where folks sit or stand over sangria, beer, and tapas to cocktail bars to dance clubs playing the latest chart hits. Whatever your nightlife tastes, you're guaranteed to find a great place in BCN to party the night away.
Barcelona is also emerging as a fashion capital of the world alongside New York City, Milan, Paris, and London. Chances are, students will witness new fashion trends come out on the streets. Often those outfits can seem odd but they soon catch on. International students should look closely at the locals to see what they are wearing. Many of them are trendsetters without knowing it. To avoid standing out and being labeled as tourists, students should dress according to the latest fashion. Who knows, maybe in time, they become trendsetters themselves.
While Barcelona is an expensive city, by cutting unnecessary expenses it can still be affordable. Many students are on scholarships or receive pocket money from their parents, but in most cases, their income is average and limited. So they have to find ways to save money instead of excessive splurging. For ecample, even simple water can be pricey here, so students should avoid ordering bottled water at restaurants and either ask for simple glasses of tap water or buy reusable bottles. Also, frequent repeated visits to ATMs should also be avoided as they charge higher withdrawal fees for international bank cards. On the brighter side, students don’t have to leave tips at restaurants and bars since it’s not customary; you can leave a coin or two instead.
As you can see, Barcelona is a true heaven for international students, with amazing sights, delicious food, fantastic nightlife, and ample opportunities for studying and immersing in the local culture awaiting. Whatever they want to achieve during their stay in Barcelona, one thing is certain: they will enjoy every second of the study abroad experience.