7 Ways to Make Your Studies in Spain More Affordable
1. Do online research.
The Internet is a powerful tool. From home, you'll be able to compare schools, cities and prices in order to come to an educated decision as to where the best place to study Spanish in Spain is for you.
2. Stay the first couple of days in a hostel and look for your own accommodation upon arrival.
Once in Spain, your search for a place to live in during your stay will be much easier. There are a number of resources available to students searching for accommodation, but most of them (obtaining lists from universities, looking at ads placed in the streets) entail being here physically.
You can also try to find something online so that you have a place to stay as soon as you get here, but it might turn out more expensive depending on what services you contract. Agencies usually charge the equivalent of one month's rent as a finder's fee, but there are a number of sites where personal ads are placed and you might be able to find something affordable. On segundamano.es and mundoanuncio.com, for example, you'll be able to view ads placed by people looking to rent rooms or entire apartments.
Without a doubt, paying for accommodation through your school is the most expensive, albeit the easiest, option.
3. Buy a Spanish SIM card.
Many people commit the mistake of keeping their foreign numbers in order to communicate with friends in Spain. Even if you're staying for a minimal amount of time, it ends up being less expensive if you go through the 'trouble' of buying a spanish card... which basically entails taking fifteen minutes out of your day to go to a phone store and buy a prepaid card.
With a Spanish number, it'll cost you less to make calls and send messages to other Spanish numbers, and other people won't be hesitant to contact you because of higher rates.
If you're coming from the States, you might not have a phone that accepts SIM cards, in which case your best option is to buy a cheap phone / SIM card package, which are readily available for around 35 Euros.
4. Find the nearest Mercadona.
Or a comparably-priced supermarket. Mercadona and Dia are usually among the cheapest. Instead of eating out all the time, you can easily buy two weeks worth of food for under 30 Euros.
5. When calling your family back home, make phone calls to home phones, not cell phones.
Rates to cell phones are always more expensive. If you call from a LOCUTORIO (a place where you can use Internet and make cheap calls abroad) and call home phones, you'll save a considerable amount of money.
Getting a Skype account and calling online an even cheaper alternative. You can visit skype.com and get an initial credit for free. Afterwards, you can buy credit through credit card.
6. Use public transportation.
Taxi's can be a real drain on your money, so try using them as sparingly as possible. Go online or pick up physical copies of timetables and maps (these can be found at metro stops, city transportation offices and other locations) for buses, metros and trains and rely on these for the most part. Unless it's really late at night, public transportation in Spanish cities is affordable and effective.
Student discounts are always offered in this regard - just stop by your nearest public transport office and you'll be given a special pass.
7. When going out at night, take advantage of the Botellón.
If you're into partying, you should get acquainted with botellón, a very typical Spanish nightlife tradition. This involves paying for a bottle of alcohol and something to mix it with between yourself and your friends, and then going to drink it in an area devoted to this particular activity.
These events are always well attended and fun. Afterwards, you can make your way to the pubs and discotheques without having to spend as much money on drinks... SALUD!