Welcome to Spain
The Spain Destination Guide will provide a historic overview, scholarships, health and safety tips and identity-specific resources to ensure students feel prepared with insight and resources for their global experience in Spain.
The information shared below is a bird eye’s view and meant to provide some country-specific context. We encourage students to conduct further research and chat with relevant points of contact including advisors, program leaders, international student services at the host campus, internship coordinators or peers who have traveled to Italy, to gain a greater understanding of their host country and/or city.
Home to the second most widely spoken language in the world, and once the most powerful country in the world, Spain had its share of ups and downs throughout history leaving an everlasting influence across the globe. Today, Spain is a popular travel destination for students due to its architecture, clothing, music, and dance. Spain still carries a great amount of influence in Europe and the rest of the world. Its fashion, music, art and science are constantly evolving and helping redefine the standards of today. Madrid and Barcelona annually stand at the top of the list of most visited cities in Europe. Spain’s epic history, charismatic citizens and eye candy around every corner enchant the hearts of new visitors year after year.
You will never run out of things to do while studying abroad in Spain. From the historical architecture in Barcelona such as the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, to the countless art museums, wineries and restaurants, you will find new and interesting ways to learn and get connected with Spanish culture and history. Also, no trip to Spain would be complete without indulging in the nightlife, especially in Ibiza, which is legendary.
Cities & Education
Studying abroad in Spain offers the opportunity to learn and immerse yourself in one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. Spain also has breathtaking natural beauty, from picturesque mountains to pristine beaches. Also, its proximity to the rest of Europe and North Africa makes it a crossroads for a number of cultures making your experience even richer. Spain also boasts some of the best nightlife scenes in the world and is consistently ranked as one of the countries that American students study in most.
Spain has 45 universities featured in theTimes Higher Education World University Ranking 2020. The most highly ranked and popular institutions are based in Madrid and Barcelona as well as in the smaller cities of Seville and Granada.
Events & Tourism
Spain has many celebrations based on historical moments, culture and more. See the resources below to learn more about the celebrations that may take place in the city you are visiting.
Spain hosts many historical sites, seven of which are named UNESCO World Heritage. From Madrid, Barcelona to Seville, students can admire staple landmarks that showcase historic milestones and significance.
Diversity & Inclusion Climate
Spain is the third most popular destination for U.S. students studying abroad. According to the Institute of International Education (IIE) Open Doors Report 2018, almost 31,230 students from the United States participated in a global program in Spain. Engulfing its Iberian neighbor Portugal, Spain has coasts along the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, with the Strait of Gibraltar to the south separating it from Morocco. In addition to multiple coasts of ocean and sea for your to enjoy, Spain is mountainous (the second-most in Europe) to fulfill all your outdoor adventures. Spain’s mountainsides, beaches, pastoral countryside and cosmopolitan cities all beckon international visitors.
U.S. students are attracted to study abroad programs in Spain for a variety of reasons, particularly the study of its language, as well as business and international relations, among other subjects. As with other visitors, students seek out Spain for its architecture, culture and nightlife, not to mention quick access to Western Europe. Higher education institutions in Spain enjoy good international reputations. There are a variety of options there for students across disciplines, depending on the study abroad program. Although Castilian Spanish is the national language and many Spaniards also speak some English, regional dialects are still very pronounced in Spain. Some provinces, such as Catalonia, Valencia, Galicia and the Basque country, have their own dialect as the official language. Despite this language variety, even students with low proficiency levels in Spanish should be able to navigate life in Spain, as there is a robust infrastructure for accommodating international visitors.
The racial and ethnic makeup of Spain is becoming just as diverse as its languages. In 2017, the total number of Spanish Muslims came to 834,000 – a number that rises to around 1.95 million when the additional 1.1 million Muslim migrants are factored in, predominantly from Morocco, Pakistan, Senegal and other countries according to
While the Spanish government does not record statistics on the ethnic and racial background of its population, it records the population of non-citizens in Spain, which in 2018 equaled to 4.7 million, around 10% of the population. Migrants largely come from the following countries: Morocco 769,100, Romania 673,000, UK 240,900, China 215,800, Colombia 165,600, Ecuador 135,000, Bulgaria 123,700, Germany 110,900 and Ukraine 106,800.
Spain has the largest Roma population in Western Europe, numbering approximately 725,00 – 750,000 and there is a very small Jewish community comprising approximately 40,000 people, living mainly in Madrid, Barcelona and Malaga as well in the parts of Ceuta and Melilla.
Reference: Minority Rights Organization
Note: These tips are intended to serve as an overview and are not exhaustive. Be sure to research your destination thoroughly to prepare for your experience abroad. Data acquired via the Cia.gov Work Factbook
Population in Spain:
49,331,076 (July 2018 est.)
Majority Roman Catholic
Staying Healthy and Safe in Spain
You cannot always predict the hiccups that may occur during your time abroad, but taking the proper measures to ensure your health and safety in Spain will eliminate or lessen the extremities of any unplanned situations.
Health insurance is mandatory for all international students in Spain. Students participating in a study abroad program of any duration are required to have international health insurance, usually included in the program costs and provided by your academic institution or program provider. If you are traveling independently, research international options available to you within your current health care provider. You can also look into international health insurance companies that provide various plans and choose the one that best suits the type and duration of your travels in Spain.
In the case of an emergency, be sure this information is easily accessible by storing your insurance card in a transportable and secure place, creating a copy of your health insurance card or storing the information in your phone. It is also helpful to be aware of nearby hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in case you are in need of these services or resources. The Spain emergency number is 112.
Spain is a fairly safe place with a relatively low crime rate, however no matter where you are in the world, whether it is your hometown or a new city, it is important to be alert and practice awareness of your surroundings. Most travelers can expect a safe experience in Spain. Crimes to be aware of mostly involve pickpocketing and theft, which usually take place near areas heavily populated by tourists, generally in larger cities such as Barcelona and Madrid. Here are a few quick tips to ensure your safety during your time abroad:
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Leave valuable items at home whenever possible and only travel with your necessities
- Avoid being flashy or careless with valuable items
- Ensure your bags and pockets are tight and completely zipped
- Have a travel partner when possible
At Diversity Abroad, we acknowledge that experiences can vary by identities and others’ perceptions of them. To access identity-based resources regarding health and safety view the Diversity & Inclusion Guides to Spain below.
Funding and Scholarship Opportunities
There are many scholarships to fund your education abroad experience. Here is a list of Diversity Abroad scholarships available for study in this country, some of which can be applied to other types of international experiences:
For more scholarships, visit our Scholarships page.