With around 9,000 French students received every year, Spain is the main Erasmus+ destination. Between the cost of living, the weather and the festive mood, the country’s assets are far from negligible.
Asked last autumn by l’Etudiant about the specificities of the host country, students who took Erasmus+ to Spain were unanimous: “The welcome is warm, it is good to live there and the historic cities are magnificent”, “the climate is well, people are happy, it’s a perfect country for students”, “a good atmosphere combined with a very low cost of living”…
So, long live Spain? Yes, answer without hesitation Julie, 20, third-year math student at the University of Lille (59) and Pierre, 22, fifth-year engineering student at Polytech Lille. Since the start of the 2021 school year, both have settled in this country, which gives them a contagious joie de vivre.
A peculiar way of life
It wasn’t the destination of his dreams, but at the end of the day, for Pierre, Spain is almost a revelation. “In my course, international mobility is mandatory. I wanted to go to Quebec. I had made all my mobility wishes there, but with Covid it was no longer possible.. So I turned to the other destinations in Europe. I chose to go to Madrid because it looked good“, says the student engineer from Lille and does not regret anything, quite the opposite.
In mobility of studies for a semester, the student has already taken charge of his Spanish life. “My rhythm of life is completely eccentric, we eat later for lunch and dinner, it suits me very well. I have a stable schedule with classes only in the afternoon from 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Even though I have a lot of personal work, it gives me time to enjoy it.”
For her part, Julie is a true Spaniard at heart. In college, she discovers a language and then a culture that she particularly likes. “I would like to become a math teacher and teach Spanish to the European sections of high school, for example. So I knew that one day I would go there.”
It’s done : the student from Lille moved to Malaga last August for a full year. If Argentina could very well have been his base, the health crisis, the financial cost of fate and the distance from his family made him take the direction of Spain without hesitation. “My life here is going great, despite the shock of the first day, when I told myself I was really alone. I had no choice but to integrate and everything went very well.“
Version “The Spanish Inn” 2021–2022
Listening to them, there is no doubt: “The Spanish Inn” remains relevant, 20 years after the release of Cédric Klapisch’s cult film. Even though the plot takes place in Barcelona, the festive atmosphere remains the same. “Spanish people are very fond of being outdoors, it never feels like it’s too late“, assures Pierre. “The Spanish rhythm is very particular: they rest in the afternoon, they are not in a hurry when they walk and they leave very easily even without the opportunity. Bars are your place of life“, confirms Julia.
But it’s the weather that wins every vote : with 2,769 hours of sunshine a year on the clock, only Malta and Portugal can compete in Europe. “It plays with humor and morale,” the two students exclaim.
Add to that a good dose of culture (no less than 49 monuments classified as UNESCO heritage sites) and an affordable cost of living (on average, 229 euros per month for a 20m² studio), students are convinced. No one even thinks of citing culinary traditions among the benefits.
“In Madrid, there is this international side, but with a lot of French people. It is ideal for meeting people. The Spaniards are also very receptive, always friendly, it’s easy to have a beer with them”, specifies Pierre, who also multiplies sports activities to go out. “I think I managed to do more things here than if I had entered Canada, where people leave any less.” Julie also takes advantage of her free time to discover Andalusia : planned several excursions to Cordoba, Seville or Granada, accompanied or not by other Erasmus students.
Speak Spanish, an advantage during your Erasmus+
The hardest for the two Lille residents: find inconvenience to the country. Ultimately, it is the language that unites them. Unlike other European countries, English is not really the quintessential international language. The mastery of Shakespeare’s language by Spaniards is equivalent to that of French, according to Education First (a Swedish company specializing in learning English).
In Madrid, Pierre has the chance to take English courses. This is also why he chose to study in the capital. “We can speak English with the other students, but not outside.”
Julie, who already had a very good level of Spanish before leaving, also indicates that mastering some Spanish words can be essential. “In my class, my classes are in Spanish and I am the only student in Erasmus. Even in my student residence, where there are only Spaniards. However, if I hadn’t mastered a few words, it would have been difficult for me to share table discussions, exchange, integrate. I think that before leaving for Spain, you must have a correct level of Spanish. To speak is also to understand the culture of the country”she points.
You will understand, therefore, that you only need to learn a few words of Spanish to make the most of your stay in Spain.