For my accommodation during my semester abroad in Madrid, I took care of 3 months before the semester started. I was interested in a shared flat for two people, but I was also looking for a one-bedroom flat just for me. In the end, I moved into a two-room flat-share in Madrid, Centro. For someone who likes to be around people, this is an absolute recommendation. As soon as you leave the door, you meet all kinds of people, street artists and you're practically in the heart of Madrid. However, it is rather quiet outside the centre. But that, I would say, is a matter of taste. I at least enjoyed being within walking distance of everything and having the rooftop bars right around the corner.
My host university was about half an hour's bus ride from the centre of Madrid. When I first arrived, I was amazed by the diversity of the campus. I got a little tour and walked from a very cute coffee shop, past 5 other cafeterias, across the various sports fields (tennis, football, basketball) to a gym that had wonderful equipment, spied a huge swimming pool on the way out and got hungry with all the food trucks and food options I saw. They even had a university hospital!
My application to the university, that happened fully in English, caused some misunderstandings at first. The registration platform didn't work until the end of the semester and the course selection was very complicated to explain. On the positive side, however, there were many webinars where I could ask questions and join various Whatsapp groups. After I had figured out the course selection system with the help of messaging with other international students, I chose my courses. The UFV offers courses in the International Program. I can highly recommend these. Both the content and the teachers were great. However, I would recommend not only choosing from this program, but creating a mix with the other courses at UFV, as otherwise I would have had very little contact with the Spanish students. The International Office at UFV answered my questions quickly and is always there for the students. However, there is unfortunately a lack of flexibility. I would have liked the International Office to be a little more flexible in respect of student concerns.
Enough organizational stuff - let's get to the fun part.
As mentioned above, the university has a very wide range of sports activities, which you can take advantage of for 30 euros a month. You can also participate in different workshops and get-to-know-you events. CityLife, an institution in Madrid that works with exchange universities, organizes parties and get-togethers for all exchange students throughout the semester and even before. If you're not the party type - no problem! With Citylife, you have the opportunity to see interesting places in Madrid every week, such as the beautiful sunset at the Templo de Debod, to watch a flamenco show, or to make trips to different places in Spain over the weekend, such as Valencia or Toledo. - An absolute recommendation from me! Personally, I didn't party as much, but ate out even more - Insider tip from me: The best tapas are at Vinitus, the best tacos are at Tiki Taco, the most beautiful flair is at the Bloom restaurant and the best non-touristy rooftop bar is actually the one at CR7.
And how do I get to all these places? As long as the weather is good, I'd recommend walking, otherwise you'll miss out on the city's stunning architecture - plus - walking is how I discovered the best restaurants and bars. But if the weather is bad, the next best transport where you can get everywhere in a short time with is the metro. The metro network is easy to understand and with the CityLife youth ticket, it only costs you 30 euros a month - a super fair price!
One question I often asked myself at the beginning was what additional costs I might have to pay. What about health insurance, living costs and tuition fees? I had few problems with health insurance. I was able to clarify this relatively quickly with a phone call to my health insurance company. However, it is different for everyone, some had to take out additional insurance for abroad, most applied for a European Health Card and for some, like me, the insurance had already covered a stay abroad anyway. Apart from the flat, the living costs for me were similar to living in a big German city. Not too cheap, but definitely not as expensive as I had expected. The costs for the flat are a bit more expensive than in a big German city, but my tip would be to look for a district around the centre, like Moncloa, Malasaña, Ibiza or my absolute favorite district, Chueca. And luckily there were zero costs for tuition!
My advice for you, if you also want to do your semester abroad in Madrid, is of course to look for an apartment early enough - you simply have the best chances and avoid unnecessary stress - and get in touch with other students who study at your university, so you can help each other and you may already have a contact person in Madrid. And of course the most important thing: Go to the get-to-know-you events! It may seem unnecessary, but it's really great to meet a lot of different people and explore Madrid together with them. I can say that Madrid is a great choice to spend your semester abroad. The UFV is a good university and the options offered by CityLife are super nice. I couldn't have asked for a better place to spend a semester abroad!
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