According to the last study published by the Spanish Education Ministry more than 1,500,000 university students arrived to Spain during the 2014/2015 academic year in order to complete an undergraduate or a master's degree in a Spanish university. They were all spread around the country, but it was revealed that approximately a 20% of them chose Madrid as first option. We interviewed some of these students and here are the 10 most repeated reasons of why they decided to come to Madrid.
1. Professional development
One of the most important decisions why they came to Madrid was the opportunity to develop a professional experience. It is a fact that Tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, Apple or EA Sports settled in Madrid and they even offer free Spanish language courses to their employees.
2. Public & private universities
Three out of the five most relevant universities in Spain are located within Madrid city. Complutense, Autonoma and the Politécnica offer a wide variety of courses available to Erasmus and International students. They all have an ESN network or an international students' office which will update you with events and other important requirements from your campus. Furthermore, the majority of them offer scholarships and internships that will make you save on your expenses.
The 0-mile marker located at Madrid's Puerta del Sol acts as the epicenter for all major highways in Spain. Not only that, Madrid Barajas International Airport connects Madrid to other European capital cities with direct flies and low-cost fares. The high-speed train known as AVE will also take you in less than 3 hours to Barcelona or coastal cities such as Alicante, Málaga or Valencia.
The clothing industry celebrates a yearly event called Madrid Mercedes-Benz Fashion week. It takes the whole city with catwalks, parties and big discounts. Well-known and upcoming designers such as Roberto Verino or Custo Barcelona present to the audience the newest trends for the following year. Check also Dr. Fourquet street for art galleries, El Rastro (Flea Market) for souvenirs or Rave Market, the biggest event for second-hand clothes and non-commercial designers.
5. Cultural activities
Although you may find events at every district, it is the downtown area which organizes weekly activities for all audiences. Spots such as La Casa Encendida, La Tabacalera, Centro Conde Duque or El Campo de Cebada offer free activities and workshops such as Introduction to photography or How to make your own radio station.
6. Street art
Madrid became popular a few years ago in the European artistic circuit because of the graffiti movement present in town. Urbanity, Pinta Malasaña or Muros Tabacalera are some of the festivals and events organized to promote tourism in the city. Alternatively, you can take a street art tour from Wednesdays to Sundays with a local graffiti artist who will show you the coolest places in Madrid's city center.
Hiking, skiing and mountainbiking is possible within 45 minutes' distance from the city center. La Pedriza, Cotos or The Guadarrama mountain range offer the best hikes. You will also find small refuges in the countryside in case you decide to spend the night sleeping by the stars.
Paella and Tapas are the most common words for tourists. If you are interested in going local, don't forget to taste 'cocido madrileño', a stew made with pork, chicken and beef, served with chickpeas on a soup. There also exists a dessert called 'torrijas', served specially over Easter time. It consists of beaked bread on milk. Yummy!
9. Friendly people
The closer you get to local communities, the deeper your knowledge of the Spanish culture. Madrid is a very multicultural place opened to everyone without any discrimination due to sex, religion or race. Lavapiés and Malasaña are probably the trendiest and hipster neighborhoods where to live in.
The Erasmus and exchange community in Madrid gets together on Mondays to celebrate the beginning of the week at bars and clubs. Thursdays are also well-known for electronic music events. Check Mondo Disko, located in Alcalá St., 5 minutes walking distance from the city center. Interested in listening to top-rated djs and bands? Check it out!