LIVING IN SPAIN
A lthough studying abroad can at times be challenging, it often brings about a life-changing experience with many positive benefits. Some of the most important things to bring with you to Spain are an open mind and a general knowledge of the country and city in which you will be studying. Read about and familiarize yourself with Spain's culture, history, geography and government before you arrive (you can find links to this information on our information for students page).
Arriving in Spain
The majority of students will arrive in the country by plane. Students will have to go through police controls (and should have their student visa stamped at entry) and customs. It is a good idea to change money at the airport banks or use the ATMs.
Once suitcases are secured and restricted areas abandoned, many programs will meet group flights and help students go to their lodgings. However, if there is no group flight, you will be arriving on your own and need to be well informed on how to get from the airport to your assigned lodgings. Programs should provide you with this information. The easiest (and often the best) option is to take a cab. Be ready to ask for a detailed receipt and understand all charges since some cabbies take advantage of jet-lagged foreigners to overcharge them. There are often other transportation alternatives such as shuttles or commuter trains. Keep in mind the luggage you will be carrying and be wary of possible theft.
Once established, you should review the various practical health and safety information you may come across. Make sure to address your concerns, from banking and cell phones to diversity and emotional issues. Most programs provide a helpful orientation meeting to discuss these questions and to assist students in the adaptation process.
Having an idea of what your personal, academic, and professional goals are will help minimize the effects of culture shock. Culture shock is the emotional and physical difficulties one has when moving to another country. It can be characterized by feelings of depression, anxiety, insecurity, irritability, insomnia and physical difficulties such as aches and allergies.
Culture shock occurs most often when one lacks prior knowledge of the country in which he/she will be living and especially when one has never traveled abroad before. This emotional and physical "roller coaster" usually occurs in five major stages:
1. Honeymoon: This is the first stage in which everything seems new and exciting when you arrive in a new place.
2. Culture shock: Culture shock settles in when you start to realize that you are in a different environment than what you are accustomed to..
3. Adjustment: You are beginning to adjust to the culture and language of Spain and are realizing that things are not as bad as you thought when you were coping with culture shock.
4. Continuous problemas: At this point you begin to realize that there are some things about the culture that you will never like or get used to.
5. Comfort: Finally, you come to the point where you are comfortable in Spain and you do not want to go home!
Returning to Spain
After spending an extended period of time studying abroad in Spain, many students will be want to know how they can return to the country after they have graduated. Fortunately, there are many programs that offer scholarships and teaching grants for students wishing to return to teach English or further advance their studies in Spain. There are several programs that students should investigate.
The Fulbright Program is another valuable option to consider if you desire to return to Spain after graduation. It is the largest U.S. International Exchange Program and offers opportunites for students, professionals, and scholars to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide. Funded by the U.S. State Department, this program awards approximately 1,500 grants to U.S. students to study, do research, or assistant-teach overseas for one academic year. Students design their own programs which may include a multitude of things such as teaching, independent study, University coursework, and more. For more information about the Fulbright Program, click here.
The Cervantes Institute is a worldwide non-profit organization created by the Spanish government in 1991. It is named after Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616), the author of Don Quixote and perhaps the most important figure in the history of Spanish literature. The Cervantes Institute, a government agency, was modeled on the British Council and the German Goethe Institute, and is the largest organization in the world responsible for promoting the study and the teaching of Spanish language and culture. The Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera (DELE; Spanish for "Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language") are official diplomas issued by the Spanish Instituto Cervantes and the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science to participants who pass a standardized test indicating Spanish language proficiency. The DELE Diplomas are internationally recognized and enjoy great prestige not only among public and private educational institutions and authorities, but also in the business world and chambers of commerce. In many countries, the DELE have been adopted by departments of education and official institutions of learning as a complement to their own assessment programs. They are ideal for furthering your career and access to education, both in Spain and in other countries where the examinations are given. For more information, click here.
LANGUAGE AND CULTURA ASSISTANTS
If you want to assist teachers in public schools in Spain click here for more information.
MEDDEAS, AUXILIARES DE CONVERSACIÓN
Multilingual Education Development and Support (Meddeas) is a company specialized in giving support services to multilingualism -and bilingualism- in educational centres, providing consultancy, selecting native teachers and offering language assistant programs.
Training Express is one of the largest language training companies in Spain with offices in Madrid and Barcelona and satellite operations nationwide. The company provides language training to over 10,000 adult learners who study English (and other languages) for their jobs. There are more than 300 teachers on staff. Training Express was founded in 1999 by ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers and is an organization dedicated to excellence and innovation in the ESL field. For more information, click here.
In addition to the suggestions found in the different sections of this site, there are a plethora of lesser known programs also available to those wishing to return to Spain. To see a list these programs, or to more specifically select an area of Spain in which you would like to work in after graduation, please click here.