International Studies Abroad ®est. 1987

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Culture Corner

Currency

The Euro is the official currency of Spain. The Euro was launched in two stages. First, in January 1999, to became the new official currency of 11 EU Member States, replacing the old national currencies -- such as the Italian Lira. It was introduced in the virtual form for bank transactions. The second stage, in January 2002, was when the Euro officially appeared in circulation. The Euro is not the currency of all EU Member States. Two countries, Denmark and the United Kingdom, agreed to 'opt-out', while many of the newest EU members have yet to meet the conditions for adopting the currency. Once they do so, they will replace their national currency with the Euro.

There are 8 different Euro coin denominations and 7 different Euro bill denominations in circulation. Coins are denominated in 2 and 1 Euro, then 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents. Each member state decorated their own coins, but all coins are interchangeable within the countries. Bills are denominated in 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 and they vary in color and size.

Conversion Rates

What is the Euro worth compared to the dollar? With the Euro in constant flux, please see www.oanda.com for up-to-date exchange rates. While traveling, it may be helpful to carry a portable currency converter (found at travel stores). Sometimes in the form of a key-chain, this is a handy gadget (like a calculator) into which you enter the exchange rate (depending on the exchange rate at the time and the country in which you are located) save, and then simply enter prices and the device converts the amounts into dollars.

Cost of Living

Due to the fluctuations in exchange rates and the differences in individual spending habits, it is difficult to estimate how much you will spend during your time abroad. But to give you an idea, past ISA students have recommended $100-200 per week for personal expenses. This amount takes into consideration day-to-day expenses like snacks, newspapers, coffee, etc., and also money that will be spent on going out to eat, shopping, nightlife, etc. EXCESSIVE SPENDING IS NOT FACTORED INTO THAT RANGE. Every student will use their money for different things and every student has different financial circumstances that will effect their economic decisions abroad, so please keep in mind that you may spend much less or much more than the estimated amounts.

Budgeting

When budgeting, keep in mind that it is always better to overestimate than to underestimate. To give you an idea of common approximate expenses and commodities a typical student will to incur, please see the brief list below.

  • STAMPS: 0.52 euro
  • Metro pass: 8 euro (per week)
  • NEWSPAPER: 1.10 euro
  • Coca-Cola: 2 euro
  • Coffee: 1.20 euro
  • Beer: 3 euro
  • Three course meal for lunch: 9-10 euro
  • Dinner (nice restaurant): 20-25 euro
  • Hair Cut: 15 euro
  • Daily Car Rental: 42 euro
  • AVE Round Trip: 96.2 euro
  • HOTEL: 60-90 euro
  • HOSTAL: 20+ euro
  • CELL PHONE: 70+ euro

Additional Estimated Expenses

The ISA program cost includes items such as tuition and fees, housing, insurance, and more. To view what is included in your program price, please visit the "What's Included" section of the ISA Barcelona program page. The "Additonal Estimated Expenses" sheet in the "Accepted Students" section of the ISA website has the following estimated expenses listed:
  • Airfare
  • Books & Supplies
  • Meals (if applicable)
  • Visas/Passports
  • Passport (new/renewal)
  • Student Visa (if applicable)
  • Personal Travel

International Student Identity Card

It is recommended that students to look into purchasing an ISIC card for their studies in Barcelona. The ISIC card is an internationally recognized student ID card that gives students thousands of discounts worldwide from travel to cinema, meals and more. While you will likely have a student ID from your host university abroad, it may not grant you discounts that an ISIC card could. You will likely be able to purchase an ISIC card abroad, but it is most convenient to purchase this card BEFORE you arrive, as it may grant you travel discounts, and you won't have to deal with the hassle of international delivery. To find out how to get an ISIC card, visit www.isic.org. Once there, you can find information on discounts in Barcelona, and what is needed to obtain an ISIC card.