I promised to share tips that I have acquired as a student here in Madrid. As some of you may be students who will be studying in my position in an upcoming semester, I will share logistical and living tips that will help you A LOT as you arrive and begin your time here in Madrid.
1) Living: If you are studying at UC3M, you’ll soon realize the Getafe campus that you will be studying at is 10 kilometers outside of the Madrid city center. There are options of living in campus dorms, with a homestay, or in a rented flat. Because I live in a shared flat and not a homestay, I will be giving tips to those who won’t be in a homestay. Most people live in Madrid and use the Renfe Cercenias City Train to get to campus the few days of the week that they have class. If you want comfort and accessibility to the campus, live in the dorm. But if you want constant entertainment and culture, live in Madrid! I live with 12 foreign students in an excellent area of Madrid and wouldn’t change it for anything. I have built relationships and learned about their cultures more than I imagined I would have. Living in the city allows you to see the cool monuments, museums, and plazas. I highly advise it!
2) Transportation: You may be stressed out about having to take a train all the way to campus every time you have class. Questions you may be asking are, how do I know what train to take? How do I buy tickets? Where do I get off?
I’m going to give you a cheat sheet.
This is how you get to school: Sol is the name of the main square and metro/train station of Madrid. This is where you will get on the train. You will take the Cercenia Renfe Train that is called “Parla”, this is the name of the final stop of the train. The ride is 20 minutes. Get off at a stop called Las Margaritas- Universidad. You will see hundreds of students getting off here- just follow them for 10 minutes by foot to get to class!
How do you buy tickets? Don’t! There is a Madrid transportation card that you can purchase and renew for 20 euros per month. This gives you unlimited rides on trains, buses, and metros in Madrid. Instead of paying 4 euros for a round trip ticket every time you go to class- buy one of these! The tricky part is obtaining one of these during the first week of your time in Madrid because every student that is coming to Madrid wants one too. You have to either go into the Sol train station to make an appointment, or you can make an appointment online. They will take your information and passport copy and you will leave with a life-saving asset in your wallet.
3) Miscellaneous logistics: Bring a copy of your passport! Try to speak to your bank and let them know where you will be traveling so your card doesn’t stop working because of suspicious activity. If you have the ability, make sure your bank puts you on an international plan so you aren’t charged small % tax every time you purchase anything abroad. (It really adds up) Another option you have is to get a Spanish bank card- The Company CityLife Madrid has a process that you can go through to get a free one. Finally, if you have TMobile they have a great international phone plan. If you don’t, you will learn to rely completely on Wi-Fi like me- or you’ll have to buy a SIM card to get a Spanish number and pay 12 euros per month for Spanish service!
Hope this helps! Good luck!