When you choose to study abroad in Madrid, you choose to do so in a beautiful city with one hand firmly rooted in the past and one reaching confidently toward the future. The city’s commitment to preserving and restoring its most beloved historical buildings, communities, and landmarks is lovingly balance with its devotion to the development of highly effective modern infrastructure. This balance is evident in its reputation as both a historic and global city.
A simple walk through any of Madrid’s neighborhoods reveals the city’s dedication to creating and maintaining this important balance between old and new. Stunningly-kept parks (modern and historical), streets, and parkways weave with historic landmarks such as the Royal Palace of Madrid, the Royal Theater, and the National Library to create fabulous-feeling and eclectic settings; and the heartbeat of modern business, art, technology, and fashion intertwine with tried, treasured, and true historic architecture, arts, and culture. The result is a city of vibrant ambiance and beautiful scenery.
People who study abroad in Madrid enjoy the city’s beauty while also benefitting from its high quality colleges and universities. Some of the most respected schools in Europe reside in Madrid, and quality study abroad programs are abundant.
Geography of Madrid
Madrid is a large metropolitan city located in the center of Spain. It is the nation’s capital and the most populated city in the country. It is divided into 21 districts, most of which are divided into smaller “barrios”. The heart of Madrid is a thriving city with a well-developed public transportation system, bustling streets and sidewalks, and a distinctly urban feel. Some of Madrid’s more outlying districts, however, feel more like quaint villages. No matter where you are in Madrid, you’ll be part of a dynamic, energetic city with lots to do, see, and enjoy.
The climate in Madrid is Mediterranean with cool winters and hot summers. The humidity is relatively low, and the altitude is more than 2000 ft. above sea level. The city sees some snow in winter and an abundance of rain in the spring and fall. Summers are hot with minimum amounts of rain.
Madrid is quite diverse, with immigrants from all over the world, especially Ecuador, Romania, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, China, and Morocco. People from other parts of the world join with these immigrants and Spaniards to create a colorful and culturally dynamic atmosphere.
Overall, Madrid is a delightfully developed and urban city located in the heart of Spain.
Language in Madrid
The majority of people in Madrid speak Spanish which is the official language of Spain. As you’re walking through the streets and interacting with people, you’ll mostly hear, speak, and use Spanish. However, there is a large expat community in Madrid, and many people speak other languages such as English and French. As you’re living in Madrid, however, you should expect to live and breathe Spanish the majority of the time.
Most colleges and universities in Madrid are Spanish-language schools. However, many study abroad programs in Madrid offer options to attend English-language schools. You can select a program that seems most appropriate for you given your skill and ability with the Spanish language. Also, when you’re in Madrid, you might take advantage of the many high quality Spanish language programs available to help you learn the language.
Cost of Living in Madrid
Spain is a part of the European Union and has adopted the Euro as its currency. In early 2014, one euro was the equivalent of approximately $1.40.
The cost of living in Madrid of course depends on where you want to live. According to Numbeo, however, rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Madrid costs nearly $750 per month. Rent for a three-bedroom apartment in the city center costs approximately $1,300. If you’re willing to live outside of the city center, you can expect to pay approximately $550 to $950 for a one or three bedroom apartment respectively.
Again according to Numbeo, basic utilities, such as electricity, heat, water, and garbage, generally cost approximately $130 per month, and in-house internet costs approximately $40 per month. The cost of basic groceries (milk, bread, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and chicken, for example) is similar to the cost of moderately priced groceries in medium to large cities in the U.S., but the actual cost of groceries of course depends on your needs and preferences.
Finally, Numbeo states that public transportation is widely available in Madrid and a monthly pass costs approximately $55. Taxis are also available and typically charge a starting fee, kilometer fee, and waiting fee. Gasoline in Madrid costs approximately $1.50 per liter. The costs of entertainment, clothing, and other non-essentials vary depending on your needs, preferences, and where you live.
Culture in Madrid
Culture in Madrid is a lovely combination of laid back living and energetic hustle and bustle. Madrid is influenced not only by Spanish culture (slower-paced days, siestas in the afternoon, a devotion to time with food, wine, and loved ones), but also by its place in the world as an economically, politically, and culturally powerful city. The influence of this dynamic on Madrid’s personality is evident in the city’s beautiful marriage of old and new, slow and fast, energetic and peaceful. By studying abroad in Madrid, you’ll be steeped in a deeply satisfying and dynamic culture.
To explore and discover Madrid’s culture, there are plenty of beautiful and interesting things to do while living and studying in Madrid:
- Talk a walk along the Grand Vía. Yes, it’s a little bit touristy. Yes, it’s a little bit chaotic. But’s it’s so full of energy and personality that you must do so at least once. The Grand Vía is Madrid’s main tourist artery and is chock-full of fun bars, restaurants, and shops, and plenty of cool and iconic buildings. Take your friends, take your camera, and have a great time.
- Hit as many of Madrid’s beautiful parks as possible. Parks in Spain are of a special breed. They’re landscaped, artistic, vibrantly colored, and full of fresh, gorgeous space and energy. Some famous parks include: the Casa de Campo (which is five times the size of Central Park in NY, NY); the Parque del Buen Retiro; the Madrid Río; and the Jardins de Sabatini. Enjoy them and others to take a glorious respite from the city.
- Get on the dance floor. Madrid’s nightlife is vibrant and thriving, and you can’t go wrong grabbing some friends and hitting any of Madrid’s frequented scenes. Multi-leveled, high-energy, people-pleasing clubs such as Shôko, Kapital, Ocho y Medio, and Joy Madrid await your dancing feet. After dancing, take your happy feet to the streets of the Malasaña neighborhood to explore the areas fun, crowded, and interesting bars.
- Explore and enjoy some of the city’s most beloved sights. Some must-sees include: El Museo del Prado, Museo Reina Sofía, Puerta de Alcalá, Plaza Mayor, and Templo de Debod. In addition, take some day trips to surrounding areas to visit famed castles, beautiful barrios, and numerous other sights that tie Madrid to its roots.
- Eat lots of good food. While the city isn’t exactly known for its stunning cuisine, there are some gems of dishes and restaurants hidden throughout the city. Visit tapa bars and restaurants to partake in some of the city’s best dishes and most delicious appetizers, wines, and desserts.
Featured Program Information
Sponsored Study in Madrid, Spain Program Listings
Forum-Nexus Study Abroad
University of Minnesota
Spanish Studies Abroad/CC-CS
SPI Study Abroad
Center for Study Abroad (CSA)
Lingua Service Worldwide, Ltd.
Centro de Estudios Luis Vives
CICA - Spanish Courses in Spain
Choate Rosemary Hall
George Mason University
Schiller International University