Reasons to Complete an Undergraduate Degree in Spain

I’ve previously posted about some undergraduate degrees that are offered in Spain in English. If you are interested in reading those posts, they are located here and here.

Studying in Spain is a good option for many individuals. If you are considering going abroad to complete a degree, then let me tell you a few reasons why studying in Spain could be right for you.

1. Affordability

We have all probably heard about how affordable college is many European countries.  Although studying in Spain is not free, the cost to attend university is no more than 2,000 euros a year, if you are attending a public institution. For private universities, the costs can vary, but even then, they can still be affordable options.

You do have to worry about the costs of other items while studying abroad, such as the overall cost of living, but it is still very affordable! Excluding the larger cities in Spain (like Barcelona and Madrid), rent would most likely be a lot cheaper than you are used to. It can also be very cost-effective to buy groceries in Spain, especially if you are buying more organic foods than pre-packaged foods.

Often times, it is more affordable to study and live in Spain, then simply paying your tuition at an American university.

Also, for Americans, while holding a student visa, you are able to work up to 20 hours a week while living in Spain. Getting a job could help cover any costs that may arise.

2. Options to Study in English

If you do not speak Spanish, you are not out of luck for being able to complete a degree in Spain. Even if you do speak Spanish, and want to complete the majority of your course in English, that is an option too.

There are some undergraduate offerings available to complete a degree in only English, or at least, primarily in English.

3. Learning Spanish

But remember, if you are not completing a degree that is taught in English, you will have the opportunity to learn Spanish (or even, the chance to learn Galician, Catalan, or Basque languages!)

By living in an environment where you are constantly exposed to another language, you will learn it rather quickly. This will allow you to become fluent, or very close to fluent, in another language by the time you complete your undergraduate degree.

4. Unique Experience

Studying in Spain would be an unique experience. You could not compare it to what you would receive from an American degree.

You will have the chance to make friends and networking connections from all over the world. You make a home away from home in a new country. You have a cool tidbit to add to your resume. How awesome would it be to explain to a potential employer that you completed your degree in Spain?

Plus, the experience causes you to be much more independent. You will have the opportunity to be living alone for the first time, but in a whole new country. This really forces you to be much more independent, because your family cannot quickly come over to help everything that goes wrong. It helps you learn to solve problems independently, which is a great trait to have!

5. Permanent Residency

After living in Spain on a student visa for 3 years (and doing the same course of study), you will have the opportunity to extend your student visa to being able to reside and work full-time in Spain.

If you see a future in Spain, then you should totally jump on the opportunity to complete an undergraduate degree in the county.

Hopefully, you are a bit more convinced to complete your degree in Spain. Can you think of any more reasons to obtain your undergraduate degree in Spain? I would love to hear some of your reasons in the comments section below.

Differences Between American and Spanish Universities

Today, I am going to discuss the common distinctions between the American and Spanish university systems, so you can feel better prepared for your first day of classes in Spain.

Grading scale

The grading scale is very different. In Spain, your grades can range on a scale from 1-10. “1” being the worst grade, and “10” being the best. Anything beyond a “5” is passing.

Before starting classes, the study abroad coordinator  told us that Spanish professors tend to give harsher grades than we would expect. It is true, even though I passed all my classes, a lot of my final grades seemed low.

When we see a “6” or “7” as our final grade as Americans, we automatically view them as low grades. I know that when I saw these grades, I looked at them as the equivalent of Cs or Ds. They are more so Bs.

To receive a “10” or even a “9” in Spain is quite hard, and they are rarely given out to students. In one of my classes, no one received these grades. To receive such grades, that would mean you have had to retain 90%-100% of the material lectured. It is possible, but not all that common.

Examinations

Which brings me to my next point, examinations. In American universities, classes typically do not weigh the whole course grade on a single exam. The grade is typically split up among 2-3 exams, essays, work outside of class, presentations, and attendance. A lot goes into making the grade in an American university, which is why the grading scale is so different, as well.

In Spain, attendance was not a requirement for most of my classes. Also, a lot of the grade is centered on one exam, which is taken at the end of the course. One of my exams was worth 100% of the final grade, and the least an exam was weighted when I studied in Spain was 60% (but that was because the other 40% was a final essay).

Course structure

You will also see a difference in how the course is structured. A lot of the courses are lecture-based, and attendance is not mandatory. If you look at your course documents, there is typically a bibliography for non-attendees, so they can study the material taught in class.

While lectures are not uncommon in lower level classes in American universities, attendance is still considered mandatory. Also, lecture-based courses are commonplace at any grade level.

Also, this is not to say you will not have discussion in your classes. I know for my literature classes, on Fridays, half of the class was lecture but the rest of the time was tiny group discussion on interpreting and analyzing poems.

Huelgas

Your classes will probably be cancelled at least once because of a huelga (strike). I know, we have strikes at American universities too. But one major difference: I have never had a class completely cancelled as a result of them. They are also way less common in the United States, or maybe that is just my small-town college, haha.

I remember walking into class on the day of a strike, and nobody was there besides other international students. Basically, everyone who had no idea what was happening. The professor walked in and told us to go home, since nobody else would come to class.

 

For those who have been to a Spanish university, what do you think is the biggest difference between American and Spanish universities? And for those interested in attending a college in Spain, what distinction are you most nervous for?