Barcelona is home to some of the most prominent business schools and universities in the whole of Spain and Europe. This, paired with all the friendly locals and vibrant culture, make it a popular destination for international students.
So if you find yourself packing up for a trip to Spain, it’s only fair to be hyped for your journey. Studying in Barcelona will give you plenty of international experience, globally competitive skills, lifelong friendships, and memories you can carry with you after you graduate. But before you go, here are some tips to help you prepare for the transition.
Finish your paperwork immediately
If you are a citizen of the European Union who is planning on staying for more than 90 days, then you should get your NIE (número de identificación de extranjero) so that your stay will flow smoothly. You need the NIE to open a bank account, enter into a work contract, and buy a car. Note that this may be a little difficult to do in Barcelona because of all the bureaucracy, so check whether you can get this done at the Spanish Embassy in your city.
Students who are not citizens of the European Union will need to get a visa before they can live in Spain for more than 90 days. Your student visa should be processed in your country of residence before your departure; you cannot have it sent to you and you cannot get it once you have arrived in Spain. It is attached to your passport before you leave your home country and must be presented to immigration officials when you enter Spain.
Non-European citizens also need to present the following documents to the nearest Spanish embassy in their home country before their departure:
- Medical insurance
- Guarantee you will return to your home country
- Medical certificate
- Criminal record
- Letter of acceptance
You may also need to show your proof of residence, details of your professional and socioeconomic situation, and proof that you have fulfilled the terms of return for individuals who have previously been granted visas.
Aside from your NIE, you also need to get your empadronamiento or your registration with your local municipality. You will need this to enter the public health system.
Commute as much as you can
Barcelona has a solid public transportation system and it is easy to find your destination because of its grid layout. Getting around the city will mean using a mix of services like buses, trolleys, and the subway system. You can also avail of the bike-sharing system if you do not enjoy walking around a lot. If you do plan on buying your own bike, then make sure to invest in a nondescript model and a good lock. This is because bike theft, unfortunately, is very common in the area.
Get used to the laid-back schedule
In Spain, siestas are common and the schedule is a little different than the ones that most countries follow. In a large city like Barcelona, most shops will probably close down between 2 pm and 4 pm for lunch and rest. In smaller towns around Spain, however, their downtimes may start at 1 pm and go on until 5 pm.
Since time is taken out of the afternoon for rest and leisure, this means that dinner is commonly eaten around 10 pm and the nightlife starts as late as 1 am. Give your body time to adjust to the schedule and be gentle with yourself.
Try sharing rent with friends
Some so many young professionals are moving to Spain. They see the value in being in Spain to start their career in major corporations, or in making it a part of their journey as digital nomads. Aside from working professionals, plenty of tourists enter and exit the country all year round.
This means that housing in Barcelona is a little expensive. Many young people opt to share furnished apartments in Barcelona with friends to keep costs down, which is a good way to get to know other people in the area. You could also consider going for sublet arrangements; however, know that these places offer little to no legal recourse against conviction.
Be open to learning the local language
While plenty of people and institutions know how to speak English, some courses may ask for Catalan speakers. Approach this with an open mind; this language is pretty easy to pick up and understand. Many international students may feel intimidated by the language at first, but surprise themselves eventually when they become fluent.
Avoid eating in or near tourist spots
Regardless of where in the world you are studying, the cheapest meal you can have is the one you prepare at home. But if you need to satisfy your cravings, then you can always go out to eat. In this scenario, avoid the tourist areas so that you do not have to shell out lots of money for the food that you can just as easily get in other parts of the city.
Take advantage of student discounts
As a student, you are eligible for a variety of discounts on transportation, museums, and other activities in Barcelona. This can help you save money and make the most of your time in the city.
Many of the city’s public transportation options, such as buses and metro trains, offer discounts for students. For example, you can purchase a T-Jove card, which is a special student card that offers discounts on metro, bus and regional train fares.
Barcelona is home to many museums and cultural activities, many of which offer discounts for students. For example, you can visit the Picasso Museum, Joan Miró Foundation and the National Art Museum of Catalonia with a reduced-price student ticket.
Many shops, restaurants, and other businesses in the city also offer discounts for students. Be sure to inquire about student discounts whenever you’re making a purchase or reservation.
Moving to a new city, especially as a student, can be daunting. However, with the right knowledge and resources by your side it doesn’t have to be. We hope that our tips for moving to Barcelona as a student have given you an insight into what you need to know and do before making such an important decision. With so much culture and history in Barcelona, it is definitely worth considering if you are looking for somewhere exciting and different to study abroad!