Spain Student exchange Study Travel

My Personal Guide to Studying in Madrid

Catherine – Universidad Carlos III de Madrid – Spain

Semester 2, 2022

Bachelor of Law / Business (Economics)


Here is my personal guide to studying at UC3M in the vibrant city of Madrid, Spain.


About Madrid

  • Party city that never sleeps; an abundance of things to do
  • Visit :
    • The surrounding mountains are for good hiking
    • Retiro Park
    • Art galleries
    • El Rastro (famous clothing market on Sundays)
    • Eating /drinking on the outdoor terraces
    • Raves


About Carlos III Madrid (UC3M)

I studied at the Getafe Campus. Here is a list of pros and cons :


•        Great activities for exchange students every day for the first month, easy to meet other exchange students

•        If you keep up with the coursework, the exam questions are basically identical to the questions you do in class and are often multiple-choice. They are easy markers on assignments.

•        Use the spa /sauna on campus

•        Cheap coffee & croissant combo at the cafeteria


•        Located on the outskirts of the city, long travel time from the city centre

•        I found their economics subjects were heavily maths/equations based and not very practical. Classrooms felt like I was back in high school again, with their strict attendance policies and homework.

•        Bad class registration system, it tricky to get the subjects you want


Practical tips for Madrid

  • Finding accommodation :
    • If you book your accommodation prior to your arrival, just be cautious of scams and use the list of sites the university recommends on its website. Note that in Spain you pay the agent’s fee. It gave me peace of mind knowing I had accommodation booked for my arrival as finding accommodation with a language barrier and jetlag would have been stressful. It can also be tricky to find accommodation at the end of August /start of September.
    • Many Spanish people use Idealista for finding a place to rent and this avoids paying an agent’s fee. Now that I have gained more confidence, I would use this in the future. It just means booking a hostel for arrival and spending time getting to know the areas and attending inspections.
    • Accommodation designed for students is often high priced but is a lot of fun for partying and meeting new people, and almost always comes with furniture. This needs to be booked prior to arrival.
    • Do not bother applying for accommodation on campus as it is too expensive and boring.
    • Prices in the city centre are expensive, but I enjoyed being amongst the city energy and being able to walk to friends’ houses spontaneously. Avoid staying on the main street, Gran Via, as it is very crowded.
    • Prices in the Getafe are around half the price, you can walk to the university and the area is quieter. Prices at shops and cafes are also cheaper in this area than in the centre.
  • Arrive around 1 week before university starts to give yourself time to settle into your accommodation, get over jetlag, sort out your metro card etc.
  • Once arrived, head to Citylife Madrid to arrange an appointment for your public transport card. This organisation helps foreign students arriving in Madrid, and their website also has a lot of useful information.


Learn Spanish prior to arrival

Although knowledge of Spanish is not necessary and you can completely get by with the minimum, it makes your experience incredibly richer by being able to connect with people in their native language. Plus, the language classes at UQ are of much higher quality than at UC3M. Do not just rely on Duolingo, it hardly scrapes the surface of languages.


Do not get stuck in the international bubble and only speak English. Get out there and meet Spanish and South American people, practise the language and do not be afraid to make mistakes. The people are very encouraging and kind to you to learn the language. Immerse yourself in the language and culture.


Other suggestions

Spend extra time travelling in Europe after your exchange (then you have new friends you can visit!)

Do exchange alone – this will get you out of your comfort zone and it is so rewarding


Why you should attend the exchange

Cliche as it sounds, it really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The personal growth and perspective gained from living in a new culture, and connecting with people from different backgrounds, makes it one of the best things you could ever do in your life. Make the most of it.

Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.

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