The university neighbourhood
Madrid’s university neighbourhood is centred around Argüelles and Moncloa, to the north of the centre. It is home to the Ciudad Universitaria (‘university city’), which includes the campuses of the Complutense University of Madrid and the Polytechnic University of Madrid. The area is mainly residential and is where many students choose to live.
If possible, don’t leave flat-hunting until you arrive in September; the beginning of the academic year is when thousands of students are all competing for flats or flat shares. If you can arrive a little earlier, you might stand more chance of finding great accommodation and end up competing against fewer people for it. Check websites such as Idealista or Piso Compartido for rooms in shared apartments.
You’ve arrived in Madrid and found a great apartment… what now? If you don’t speak Spanish, you might want to sign up for language classes. You might be able to get classes through your university, but if not, consider taking classes through a language school. Inhispania language academy and Tandem Madrid both offer intensive courses and have special offers for Erasmus students.
Another way to improve your Spanish – and make some local friends – is to do a language exchange, or intercambio. There are several intercambio events across the city organised by groups such as Madrid Babel and Café Tandem (check their websites or social media for upcoming events). Alternatively, you can find an individual intercambio using websites such as Tus Clases Particulares (choose the Intercambio idiomas option).
Madrid has some great budget tapas bars, offering delicious options that won’t break the bank. From student favourite El Tigre, where you get a huge free plate of tapas with every drink ordered, to popular chain 100 Montaditos, which does little filled baguettes for a euro each, you won’t have any problem finding cheap eats in Madrid.
Madrid is a relatively reasonably priced city and, if you know where to look, there are plenty of good deals that make that student budget stretch even further. Check out some of the best bars for Erasmus students in Madrid. When it comes to nightlife, Malasaña is one of the coolest local barrios in the city, packed full of cool bars and restaurants.
When you’re not hunkering down to study, make the most of living in one of Europe’s most fascinating cities and get out there and explore. There are plenty of free or reduced-price things to do in Madrid. You can get into lots of museums for free or a reduced price with your student card, and the Prado and the Reina Sofia have free entry for everyone during the last two hours of the day. Once you’ve got to grips with the city, you can embark on some day trips: Segovia, Toledo and Ávila are all popular trips from Madrid and can be reached in under an hour.