lunes, 18 de mayo de 2015

9 questions you probably have about study in Spain

Going abroad for your studies is always a big deal. It doesn't matter if you are looking for a bachelor or a post-graduate program, there always are several considerations you need to take care off before taking any decision. Of course you should reply yourself to the big things, such as which major, and where, but once you have decided that, and if you destination is Spain this post might help you with the preparations.

  • Which is the best university for....?
This is a question we get a lot..."I want to study a master degree on Accounting (i.e.), which is the best Spanish University in that field....?"
It's not that we want to show off, but Spain has a long tradition on Education and some of its Universities are among the oldest in Europe (click here or here to learn more), meaning that we have tough times choosing only one. You can check this website, which has the complete list of Spanish Universities and where you can filter your search based on location and field of studies. From there you can see which your options are and which one is more appealing for you. 
  • Can I get a scholarships?
Many people come to ask willing to study in Spain but needing funds to do so.
There are some scholarships and grants you can apply to, like those offered by the EU (Erasmus +) that are open to graduates and post-graduate students of all backgrounds.

Many universities and business schools also have their own scholarships or tuition reduction policies. Remember to check if you can apply for any of them.

If you are applying from Indonesia, the LPDP scholarchips are a very good option, cause they cover not only the tuition fees but also the full board during your stay abroad. Check the full list of universities that are recognized by this program here.
  • How do I get my visa?
 If you are going to Spain for a short period of time (meaning less than three months) you can apply for a simple tourist visa.
If you are planning to stay longer, a semester or a full year, then you need to apply for a student visa. In order to do so you must present some documents, among them are, a valid passport for the complete duration of your studies, the acceptance letter from your host university, an insurance (make sure that the insurance company is allowed to operate in Spain) and a police record. You can visit the Spanish Embassy in Jakarta for the whole information, they are at Jl. Haji Agus Salim, 61 Yakarta Pusat - 10350 (Tel.: +62-21 314 23 55).
  • Is it easy to find accommodation?
 When staying in Spain you have several choices. Since we imagine you'll probably be staying for quite a while, as a student you're likely to be more interested in options other than hotels and guesthouses. Here are a few:

 - Students residences and colegios mayores:
These are highly recommended as they tend to be located near the campus (so you can save money on transport) and because in addition to accommodation, they also tend to offer dining and laundry facilities, among other amenities. There are different types available (women's, men's or mixed), and some are private while others depend directly on the universities. The main difference between student residences and colegios mayores is that the last one also provides the opportunity to develop your cultural and sporting abilities. You can use this website to choose the one more suitable for you.

 - Staying with a family:
There are an increasing number of families who are interested in receiving foreign students as lodgers. All things considered, this can be an excellent way of experiencing the Spanish way of life and saving money.
Ask about this option at your university or in your language school.

- Renting a flat:
You can rent a whole flat or a room in a flat shared with other tenants. This last option is very popular with Spanish students and quite affordable.
You'll find specialised agencies on the Internet, and you're also bound to come across advertisements that may be of interest on notice boards around the campus. Pay particular attention to details such as whether the flat is near an underground or bus station.

- Living with elderly people:
Several Spanish cities have intergenerational programmes in which young students are given lodgings in elderly people's homes. In exchange for free accommodation, all you have to do is offer your company and enjoy sharing the person's experience.This option can show you a different face of Spain, and be a wonderful experience, but we recomend you to have some knowledge of Spanish language
Check with the voluntary work or community service offices in your university.

Anyway, the office of International Relations from your host university can help you and advise you on this.
  • What about the cost of living in Spain?
The good thing about choosing Spain over other European countries is, not only quality of the Spanish Educational institutions, but the country cost of living, is cheaper than what you would find in UK, France or Germany. Of course this cost of living changes depending on the region you are based (it's not the same Madrid or Barcelona that smaller cities as Granada or Salamanca), but still you will find it very "budget friendly". Here an example of what we mean. Let's imagine you are going to Barcelona for your master degree (as we said before, Barcelona is not the cheapest city, but it's still very popular), how much you would spend per month?
 - Rented room in a shared flat in Barcelona city center: 300 - 350 € (approx. You can check this website yourself and fine better deals in other areas of the city)
 - Transport: 45 € (yearly subscription, if needed)
 - Food: 160 - 200 €
 - Leisure/entertaiment: 100 €

You get a total cost of approximately: 645 €/month, not bad considering you are studying in one of the most popular destinations around the world, right?
  • Language concerns  
- Should I learn Spanish?

If you have chosen one of the universities that offered English Programs, for sure you won't need to learn Spanish for your studies. Nevertheless we encourage you to learn some basic Spanish, you will find it more than useful for your daily life and sure you will enjoy it (check out our post "Some things you've never realized about the importance of learning Spanish"). All the Spanish Universities offer language courses to their foreigner students, and there are many private academies that sure can help you if you need to put some extra effort. We can recommend you some depending on where you are going.

- I know Spain has more than one official language, what about that? do I need to speak Catalan, Galician or Basque?

True, Spain has more than one official language, four to be more specific. However, Spanish is official in the whole territory and all the locals speak Spanish. Furthermore, and as example, a city like Barcelona (where Spanish and Catalan are official languages) receives every year more than 12.000 foreigner students, meaning that sometimes even only speak English it's fine.
  • Can I study and work?
Does your student visa allow you to apply for a job? The answer is YES, with your student visa you could apply for a part-time job. But trust will be so delighted discovering the wonders that Spain has to offer that you won't have time for that.
  • Religious concerns
- Muslim

If you are coming from a Muslim country and are a muslim practitioner you might be worried about finding worship places in Spain. Well, be worried no more. Spain not only has a shared historic link with the islamic religion but it's also very close to North Africa, where Islam is the most practiced religion. In the last two decades many workers from these countries have chosen Spain to live and have brought with them their traditions and customs. Meaning that it will be easier for you to find mosques or praying groups.  

 - Halal

 As it's said above,  the Muslim community has grown a lot in the last years so every day is easier and easier find Halal butchers and groceries stores, especially in the biggest cities.

  •  Is there any discount for International students? (information provided by the official website of Study in Spain, very useful website, you should check it out)
And this is another thing to think about....there are many students cards you can apply for that will help you to get discounts on different activities (transport, housing, food....), your budget won't regret it!. As an international student, you'll have several options to get discounts in Spain:

1. Get the International Student Identity Card (ISIC). It is valid in over 120 countries and you will be able to get discounts on travel, restaurants, museums, accommodation, transport, telephony, sports, etc. You can apply for it online or get it directly in Spain even if you are a foreign student (you will need a document that proves you are enrolled in a school or university, a recent passport photo and your ID card or passport). The minimum age to apply is 12 and there is no maximum age. It is valid for no more than 16 months. Follow this link for more information.

2. Get the European Youth Card (promoted by the European Youth Card Association – EYCA), for young people aged 14 to 30, valid in over 40 countries.
In Spain this card is promoted by the Youth Institute (Injuve) and the youth organisations of the Autonomous Regions.
We suggest you to visit the following website, where you find where you need to go, depending on the autonomous region you are studying in. It also includes requirements and fees.

3. Get the International Youth Travel Card (IYTC). It is valid for young people aged 12-25 who are not full-time students. It is especially useful for getting discounts on international air travel, rail tickets, and others. It is valid for 12 months from the date of issue.

More information:

4. Get the Spanish Youth Hostel Network (REAJ) card. This card is recognised internationally and you will be able to use it in many national and foreign hostels. To apply, all you need is your ID card or passport, and to pay the fee. More information here.

Other things to remember:

Get information on the discounts that RENFE (Spanish National Railway Network) offers if you have one of these card:

Many universities have their own student card with which you can borrow books, get discounts, etc. Most of these cards can also be linked to a bank account. That is, they can be used as a cash card.

Even if you haven’t got any of these cards, if you prove you are a student you can get discounts on many services such as transport, car hire, housing, etc...

Take a look at the proposals on the official page of the Youth Institute (Injuve)

So...what do you think?, is everything clear now?, have we missed anything? please let us know, we will be delighted to answer all the questions you have, so all comments are welcome. And if you find this post useful don't be shy and share, cause sharing is caring.

martes, 5 de mayo de 2015

Some things you've never realized about the importance of learning Spanish

We all know, or have been told, or have read somewhere...that learning Spanish is a good choice. Why? there are several reasons:
  • Because it is the 2nd most widely spoken language with more than 500 million speakers
  • Because it is the official language in 21 countries
  • Because it will help your career: new job opportunities, new markets, international trade....Latin American countries have been experiencing strong economic growth for years with an estimated GDP growth of 4.67 in 2011. This growth has been propelled by MERCOSUR and other trade, economic and political agreements such as NAFTA, Andean Community of Nations, The Central American Integration System (CACM), and the G3 Free Trade Agreement. So, yes, this is a huge market, and it keeps growing. And what it's more important, learning Spanish will open it for you
  • According to the language researcher David Graddol on a report presented to the British Council, "The world is rapidly becoming multilingual and Arabic and Spanish are both key languages of the future". The same British Council reported Spanish as the most important non-English language to learn (based on cultural, economical, and diplomatic factors). You can read the "Language of the future" report here. This means that not only the US is learning Spanish because of the rapid growing of its Spanish speaker population, but also the British are swapping French for Spanish as more relevant language.
  • Because learning another language will improve your memory and slow age-related decline in mental acuity. And studying another language makes you smarter! Your critical thinking skills will be improved as you learn to view things through a different lens. Learning a second language stimulates creativity! Ok, I know, I know....this can be applied to any language, not only Spanish, but it's still a good thing
  • And because bla bla bla...some more boring and useful reasons....
But we also know that sometimes these, more than valid and good reasons, are not enough to make you run and get your Spanish language course done. So let's talk about the funny part of learning Spanish and how that will change your life.

We said that there are more than 500 million Spanish speakers in the world....those are many new friends (and possible dates) to think about, so by learning Spanish you are expanding your dating pool ;-)

Those over 500 million speakers populate some of the coolest destinations in the world. Forget about the touristy resorts in Cancun and explore thousands of miles of cheap and beautiful Latin America cities, beaches, and trails. Venezuela, for instance, has the longest Caribbean sea coastline of any nation and is considered one of the most mega diverse countries on the planet, with more than 40 percent of its territory protected. Even if you do go to popular destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, speaking the local language will help you get off the beaten path and see some real culture. And then, of course, you can book a trip to Spain and see the wonders of Barcelona, Madrid, Andalucia and more. Or discover the wonders of routes less travelled such Basque Country, Asturias or Galicia, in the north of the Spanish peninsula.

And, not need to be said, you will understand and enjoy the Spanish literature and films. Around 100 successful authors from 54 countries voted “El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha” by novelist Miguel de Cervantes as the best book of all time. Other Spanish-language authors you’ll want to read are Chilean poet Pablo Neruda — many of whose works have not been translated — Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende, Mario Vargas Llosa, and many more. And then there are the movies. Star directors Pedro Almodóvar, Alejandro Amenabar, Alfonso Cuarón, and Guilermo Del Toro — who all have movies in their native language — should be enough to convince you of the richness of Spanish-language cinema. Also listen to actors and actresses such as Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Benicio del Toro or Javier Bardem talking their mother tonge gives a different taste to the movie watching.

We could also talk about music, Spanish speaker bands and singers are gaining worldwide recognition and fame. Have you ever wondered what Shakira, Juanes, Enrique Iglesias or that beautiful song you were dancing on your last salsa class were saying? Learn Spanish and you will know.

Learning Spanish will give you the chance to support and understand some of the best athletes in the world. Football, tennis, basketball, moto GP, F1...all these sports have top athletes who are Spanish speakers

Furthermore, Spanish is easy to learn. Much of its vocabulary is similar to English's, and written Spanish is almost completely phonetic: look at almost any Spanish word and you can tell how it is pronounced. And while mastering the grammar of Spanish can be a challenge, basic grammar is straightforward enough that you can have meaningful communication after only a few lessons.

Last but not least, learning Spanish is fun!

The satisfaction of accomplishment it's there waiting for you to grab it! For all of the reasons mentioned above, and a whole lot that haven't been mentioned, learning Spanish can be one of the most enjoyable things you will ever do. Whether your motivations are practical, intellectual or sentimental, learning Spanish is something that will benefit you for the rest of your life!

So...¿hablamos español?

If you are interested do not hesitate to contact us, either if you are looking for an intensive course in Spain or Latin America or you would like to learn on-line, we have the solution