International Studies Abroad ®est. 1987


Culture Corner


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 Spanish Peseta. 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 Eurois 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 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

A few important things to keep in mind when planning for your trip:

Certain cities in Spain have a higher cost of living than others. For example, Barcelona is much more expensive than Salamanca.

The nightlife in Spain is VERY expensive. So if you are someone who likes to go out every night to clubs and stay out until 5 a.m., then you are obviously going to spend much more than someone who prefers spending their time reading at a small neighborhood café. The US Dollar is currently weak compared to the Euro, so you will lose a great deal on conversion.

Public transportation is not included in the ISA program cost. For certain cities, this will not have much of a monetary impact. But for larger cities like Madrid and Barcelona, this is something that will come into play every single day. Barcelona and Madrid are very spread out, so you will most likely need to use public transportation to get from your homestay to school, from school to the ISA office, etc. Students in Barcelona and Madrid can expect to spend between $50-100 per month on (basic) public transportation. This is not included in the $100-200 range mentioned above.

Former students have given us some idea of what you should expect to spend per week while in Spain. Due to the change in exchange rates and the vast differences in individual spending habits, we can only give you estimated figures. However, most students seem to spend around $100-200 per week. This figure does not include extra traveling, heavy shopping, or frequent restaurant dining. Please keep in mind that some students spend less and others spend more.

When budgeting, 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. The costs listed are PER ITEM, not how much to expect to spend on each item per week, unless noted.

The following is a list of typical prices for items and services in Madrid.  
- STAMPS within Spain: 0.31, within Europe: 0.60 euros 
- TO THE U.S.: 0.78 euros
- NEWSPAPER: 1 euro
- COFFEE: 1.2 euros
- BEVERAGE AND TAPA: 2-5 euros
- DINNER (nice restaurant): 20 euros
- DINNER (very nice restaurant): 35 euros
- AVE ROUND TRIP: 104 euros
- HOTEL: 65 euros
- HOSTAL: 20-30 euros

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 Madrid program page.

The "Additional 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

          ISIC Card

          The ISIC card is an internationally recognized student ID card that gives students thousands of discounts worldwide from travel to cinema, meals and more. ISA students traveling to any region worldwide, who purchase a flight through STA, are eligible to receive an ISIC card.