Accommodation, students’ associations, and everything else!

Hello there! Today I’m writing the blog post in English for all my friends and followers abroad! Since a couple years ago I was an Erasmus student in the UK myself, I thought it would be interesting to write some tips for exchange students coming to Spain. Some of the tips are for Spain and others for the University of Alicante (my uni) in particular. Keep reading if you want to find the best tips on accommodation, students’ associations and everything else for the adventure of your lifetime!

1. Application procedure and acceptance

First things first, exchange students must come from partner universities with Erasmus + program, Global Mobility or other international exchange agreements. This means that your home university will be nominating you for the exchange program, so keep track of application dates and possible destinations. I always recommend to think carefully on the destination university you’re going to apply for since conditions such as language, weather, living costs can be quite daunting when you arrive all on your own. Every university in Spain has a website for incoming students so you can also have a look on the subjects you can take as exchange students. Here’s the one for incoming students to the University of Alicante (UA).

2. Accommodation

I’ve always found that incoming students in Alicante* payed a fortune for their accommodations, so here are some tips.

Both dorms and shared flats are a great option depending on your personal preferences. Flats are normally cheaper if you know where to look. AirBnB is fine for the first week but you’ll find better deals on these websites:

You can also look on Erasmusu, but I can’t recommend it since when I was an Erasmus I never got a reply. However, it’s a great website to read other exchange students’ experiences.

Your destination university may also have an Accommodation Office to help you through the process, so I link you to the one in the UA.

I wouldn’t pay more than 250 € or 300 € (bills included) for a room in Alicante/San Vicente and other cities in Spain, though it’s a small amount for cities like Madrid or Barcelona.

*The UA campus is in San Vicente del Raspeig (30 mins from the city centre by bus) and exchange students usually choose to live in the city centre which is more expensive while Spanish students prefer to share a flat in San Vicente.

3. Students’ associations

If you’re interested in joining a students’ association, here are some that focus on international mobility:

  • AEGEE: it is one of Europe’s biggest interdisciplinary student organisations that empowers students and young people in Europe to take an active role in society. It focus on intercultural exchange, advocacy and policy, thematic projects, personal development and has a forum for discussion. This is their website.
  • AEGEE ALICANTE: this is Alicante’s Aegee website. Since they are an organisation for students by students, you can find some great activities like trips and the Buddy Program. This program aims to provide support for international students to adapt themselves to Alicante and the UA while locals can benefit from the language and the cultural exchange. If you are interested, here’s the application page.
  • ESN: it stands for Erasmus Student Network. I highly recommend it because you can join their events and trips. They organise activities and parties of all kind. You can also benefit from discounts with the ESN card. They’re also partners with some accommodations, banks, restaurants… and can give you some advice. ESN offers information and support with accessibility, internships and jobs abroad too.
  • ESN ALICANTE: I link you to the ESN Alicante website in case you’re an incoming student to the UA. In case you are looking for other ESN section, check this page.

4. Enrollment and courses

Before applying for an exchange program, you should have a look on the courses you can take since not all are available for international students. You should have a B2 both in English and Spanish (at least in English) to feel confortable studying in Spain.

On this website you can find all the information on the courses you can take in the UA.

Some universities also offer support throughout the enrollment process when you arrive. In the UA you will be asked to come a couple of days before the semester starts to enroll in your courses. Local students in collaboration with the Mobility Unit will be there to help you register at the UACloud, enroll and get your TIU (it’s your ID on campus, with it you will also be elegible to some student discounts in museums, cinemas… and it allows you to use the university gym).

5. Health and medical care

Every student must have a medical insurance during their exchange stay in Spain and it’s your responsibility to provide yourself with medical coverage before your arrival.

  • European students: if you come from the European Union, you can apply for the European Health Insurance Card in your country of origin. It will give you the right to receive healthcare which is normally covered by the public system in Spain. You have to registrer upon your arrival with the Department of Health and Social Security near your home in Spain in other to get a General Practitioner assigned to you.
  • Non European Union students: since you can’t apply for the European Health Insurance Card, you must contract a private health insurance with the company of your choice. Arag is the company that the UA works with, but you’re free to choose.

For minor medical problems on campus, there are usually health units in the university. This service is free in the UA. No appointment needed. You can also go to a pharmacy to get treatment or advice for many common illnesses, however, you will need a prescription from your GP to get antibiotics in Spain.

6. Foreign Student Identity Card

If your stay is going to take longer than 6 months, it is mandatory to apply for the foreign student ID (it is different from the ID card you’ll get when you enroll in your destination university) at the corresponding Foreigners Office or Police Station.

So I think almost all the important things are covered. But in case you need more information on your exchange stay in Spain, in Alicante in particular, you can fill the contact form and I will get to you ASAP. You can suscribe to the blog and stay tuned for more posts!

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