Spain is an ideal destination to pursue a degree. It is, in fact, one of the top international student destinations around the world, right there on the list alongside the US and UK. However, Spain ranks much higher than the US and the UK when it comes to safety and peace, according to the 2020 Global Peace Index.
But more on this just below. As an international student in Spain, you will be met with an excellent education system, great quality of life, an interesting culture, and a highly welcoming environment. But, just like in any other country, there are some things you should keep in mind, which is why we have prepared this safety guide for international students in Spain. Read through it and make the most of your study abroad experience in Spain.
Is Spain Safe?
Spain is actually one of the safest countries to live in. In the 2020 Global Peace Index, Spain ranks 38th among 163 countries when it comes to safety and peace. Violent crime is rare in Spain; however, street crime and petty theft are just as common as in any other country. On another note, Spain is known to be rather accommodating to international students and tourists. Generally, violent crime in Spain is nearly non-existent. In order to own a gun, people must document their life is in danger and getting a permit is a difficult procedure – it includes going through annual medical and psychiatric examinations. With that being said, below are a few things you should be aware of in Spain.
Things To Keep in Mind While in Spain
- Keep Your Belongings Close
Petty theft is an issue in Spain as much as it is in numerous other countries. It is, however, a more common and a growing problem in cities like Barcelona, for example, where the number of tourists is generally larger. Petty theft, like pickpocketing, is something that you must be aware of anywhere you go, including Spain. While it normally should not be an issue, unfortunately, it happens. But you can avoid it! Here are a few tips:
- Do not leave valuables on display, such as leave your phone/wallet in your back pocket.
- Do not leave your belongings unsupervised. Make sure you keep your backpack/purse closed and in front of you, especially in crowds.
- Do not carry all your cash with you. You can take only the amount you need and leave the rest in your room/a space you think is safe and locked.
- Be especially careful in crowded places. Pickpockets work best in crowds.
- Do Not Keep Things in One Place
Let’s say, for example, you keep all of your money/cards in your wallet. Your wallet gets stolen, and you are left with nothing in case of emergencies. It is always better to leave your money in different places. Divide the money between your wallet, one of your purse’s pockets, or the pockets of your jeans. Maybe you will never be a victim of petty theft, but it is always better to think ahead and prepare, just in case.
- Stay Away From Empty/Dark Areas
Whether you are going home late at night or heading to the nearest supermarket, make sure you stay away from empty and dark areas, especially if you are alone. If you find yourself in this type of situation, the best you can do is switch your way to one you think is safer, take a licensed cab, or hop on public transport. Public transportation in Spain is safe and reliable. You can use buses, trains, metros to get around Spain in a safe and budget-friendly way.
Keep in mind: Public transport often tends to get crowded. Make sure to apply the safety measures mentioned above to avoid pickpocketing.
- Remember the Emergency Numbers
The emergency numbers should always be the first thing you memorize when traveling to another country. If you have an emergency in Spain, regardless of the city, you can dial 112, and you will be connected to either the police, ambulance, or fire brigade. Generally, operators speak foreign languages, including English, so communicating would not be an issue.
You can call different emergency services if you dial the following numbers:
- National Police: 091.
- Local police: 092.
- Civil Guard: 062.
- Health Emergencies: 061.
- Fire Brigade: 080.
If you are going somewhere on your own and it is late at night, or are traveling long hours, an important piece of advice would be to tell your friends/roommates where you are going and let them know you have arrived safely. It is always a good idea for people you trust to know where you are in case of an emergency. Keep your phone charged so you can contact people in case you need to. If you do not have Wi-Fi or a data plan, you can ask any nearby coffee shop or restaurant for their Wi-Fi information. You may also buy a burner phone and use it during your stay in Spain.
- Stay in Touch With Family and Friends
Being cut off from a familiar culture and environment may result in culture shock. Basically, culture shock is defined as “a sense of anxiety, depression, or confusion” that may or may not happen to travelers who step away from a familiar culture and society. If you find that this is happening to you, make sure you stay in touch with your loved ones back home. Of course, overcoming culture shock means you should also try to embrace the new culture, try to learn new things, and make new friends. Try to slowly get involved with everything around you and keep in contact with family and friends back home. Staying safe also comes in ways other than physical, so take care of yourself and your mental wellbeing.
Now, all that’s left to do is have fun, create memories, advance in your career, and head to the beach and relax. Don’t forget that Spain has an impressive culture, good food, and, well, many other things. How about 42 interesting facts about Spain?