Study International Relations in Spain
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International Relations Studies in SpainStudents of international relations (“IR”) tend to be seasoned world travelers. Many pursue degrees in countries other than their homeland, and nearly all complete at least a short-term study abroad experience en route to completing their degree. There are, of course, countless possible destinations for such study, but Spain is widely considered among the best in Europe.
One of the great advantages of studying international relations in Spain is the opportunity to gain fluency in Spanish, one of the world’s most widely spoken languages. With over 400 million native speakers (6% of the world’s population), Spanish is the second most broadly spoken first language on Earth, after Mandarin Chinese. Thus it is highly valuable for people who want to study international issues in Latin America, the Caribbean, or parts of West Africa such as Morocco and Equatorial Guinea. Of course, the Spanish spoken in Spain differs from that spoken in Latin American countries (and, indeed, Spanish in certain parts of Spain can differ significantly from other parts), but anyone who is fluent in Spanish can be understood by other Spanish speakers regardless of national origin, and thus fluency in this language is highly valuable. Spanish is also greatly prized on the international job market, particularly in the United States, so studying in Spain is often a wise career move.
Speaking broadly, there are two possible ways to study international relations in Spain: the first is to enroll in a Spanish college or University as an ordinary student; the second is to attend one of the many programs hosted by foreign (especially American) universities at various campuses in Spain. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these strategies, and many individual programs fall somewhere in between the two. Attending a Spanish university usually means attending classes in Spanish – this is an advantage for those who want to use the experience to improve their Spanish-language skills, but it is a definite hindrance to prospective students whose Spanish is not good enough to enable them to understand an academic lecture. Spanish universities will also put you in close contact with ordinary Spanish citizens, since the overwhelming majority of the students in these programs will be Spaniards. This provides a useful window into Spanish society and culture that may not be available in other ways.
The opposite advantages and disadvantages apply when attending a foreign university’s program within Spain. Classes are often (though not always!) held in English, which makes them accessible to people from all over the world. Thus, the student body tends to be much more diverse and eclectic. This makes for a dynamic educational experience, but necessarily means fewer opportunities to practice Spanish or learn detailed information about Spain as a country. Finally, getting a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from an American or other institution in Spain has the advantage of ensuring that the degree will be recognized in at least one other country. The great majority of Spanish universities are internationally accredited and their degrees will still be important qualifications outside of Spain; but for those who hope to work or pursue further studies in the United States, for example, it’s very helpful to have a degree from an American institution, since the grading system and teaching standards will be more familiar to employers and admissions committees.