By far the most popular type of accommodation in Barcelona is a flat share as it is a great opportunity to find cheap accommodation and to make friends with native Spanish or Catalan speakers.
Flat shares: Flat shares are a great way of getting to know the ‘real’ Barcelona, making friends and improving your language skills if you choose to live with native Spanish speakers.
You do not necessarily need to organise accommodation in Barcelona far in advance. I would recommend that you go a week or two ahead of the beginning of term, stay in a hostel, and go flat-hunting as it is important to see a flat before you put down a deposit.
There are many great sites where you can find flats shares or private flats:
A typical rent for a room in central Barcelona is usually around 300-400€, and bills are typically included in the rent.
University halls: If you would prefer to be in halls, the university offers accommodation to exchange students through their housing service, RESA. You can find all the information about university halls online.
The advantages of living in halls is that it offers flexible and secure accommodation close to the university campuses, the disadvantage is that they are often more expensive than a flat share and you usually live with other foreign students rather than native speakers.
Areas: Many students going to live in Barcelona think that La Rambla is the best place to live. Although you are very close to the clubs and the beach in this area, I would recommend living away from La Rambla and el Raval because it gets very crowded with tourists and it is not the safest place at night.
- Areas such as Marina and Poblenou are very close to the university campuses.
- The Gothic quarter and el Born are also popular areas with students, but quite expensive due to their location.
- Poble Sec, Eixample, Gràcia and Sants are still central areas but that have more of a residential feel.
Tips: Contracts- It is usual not to have to sign a contract when living in a flat share. This is not necessarily something to worry about, but you do have to be more wary as a tenant. Try to meet with the potential landlord or talk to other flat mates about their dealings with them before you agree to live there, to make sure that you feel you can have a good relationship with the landlord.
Deposits- As there are not usually contracts with a flat share, you may also not have to pay a deposit on your room. If you do pay a deposit however, before parting with a large sum of money be aware that it is not guaranteed that you will get the deposit back as there is not the same Deposit Protection Scheme that we have in the UK.
Crime- Some people can get very anxious about going to Barcelona, having heard stories of pickpockets and high crime rates. Although it is true that Barcelona has a pickpocketing and street scam problem, it should not put you off going there to study. It is quite possible to live in Barcelona without experiencing any crime, simply by avoiding tourist hotspots and making yourself less of a target, i.e. making yourself look less like a tourist! To keep yourself safe: don’t carry valuables, keep an eye on your and your friends’ bags, avoid talking English in the public, and travel with friends at night.
N.I.E-If you would like to set up a phone contract or bank account or need to pay separate bills on your accommodation, you will need to apply for a N.I.E card when you arrive in Barcelona. The university provides information on the N.I.E and how to get it.
Go to the Oficina de Extrajeros early, as it often has long queues, particularly at the beginning of term.
Modules: King’s partnership with Pompeu Fabra links you up with the Faculty of Translation and Communication meaning that it’s a great place to go if you would like to focus on translation studies. However, you are also automatically enrolled in the Humanities Department, which offers history, geography, literature, art and philosophy courses.
Catalan: As an exchange student at Pompeu Fabra, you have the opportunity to take modules in beginner’s Catalan so it is not necessary to have studied Catalan previously. The university also has a program called the Voluntariat Lingüístic that offers free cultural and language immersion activities for foreign students.
When choosing your modules, the module description will tell you whether the classes are to be taught in Castilian or Catalan so it is possible to choose which language you would like to study in, although it does limit your choice of modules slightly.
Assessment: Apart from the language classes, if you do take a module that is taught in Catalan, as a foreign student you will usually be able to do presentations, write coursework and take exams in Spanish.
In general, assessment at Pompeu Fabra is very similar to the way in which we are assessed at King’s. There are usually assignments that make up a small percentage of the overall grade but the majority of the grade is assessed in the final exam. There is however more of a focus on assessed group work and presentations at Pompeu Fabra.
Academic help: Pompeu Fabra is a very international university, meaning that it has a well-established study abroad office called the OMA and is welcoming and accommodating to exchange students.
You can take any queries, academic or otherwise, to the OMA that has an office on each Campus.