A warm Madrid welcome

@Gabriel Rodriguez

Madrid has long been a beacon of opportunity for Spaniards seeking big-city life.

Successive waves of migration have seen the city’s population grow exponentially, steadily converting the country’s capital into a modern, thriving hub of commerce, culture, and countrywide traditions. Unlike many other European metropolises, size has not spoiled the city’s enviable quality of life. Madrid continues to be a city of both comfort and convenience; a capital that basks in sunlight and is characterized by its safe streets and a proud Spanish identity.

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Sitting in the heart of the bustling urban center, the IEU Madrid campus is part of the constantly moving urban tapestry. Inside, students have cutting-edge facilities at their fingertips as they rub shoulders with over 100 nationalities. Over 70 percent of enrolments are international, meaning the campus’s vibrant intellectual dialogue is both framed and enhanced by everyday diversity. This overarching value is brought to life through a dynamic network of student clubs where skills are acquired and relationships forged both in and outside of the classroom. However, as students step beyond the campus boundaries, it is the greater city that becomes the laboratory for learning and cultural enrichment. Boasting some of Europe’s most prominent galleries and museums, a world-renowned culinary scene, and a booming entrepreneurial landscape that has spurred an impressive citywide transformation in recent years, the Spanish capital is a constant source of stimulation and opportunity.

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Essentially a patchwork of characterful neighborhoods, Madrid is often best traversed by foot. However, a world-class transport network – from the underground to buses and even an electric city bike scheme – binds each corner of the capital together too. Madrileños have a reputation for their enthusiastic (and year-round) use of public space, and from summer to winter locals flock to their generous city parks and picturesque plazas with gusto. This not only endows the city with an upbeat, social atmosphere, but also makes Madrid’s streets some of the safest in Europe.

In comparison to other capital cities in the region, the local cost of living – from food to accommodation – is considerably lower, allowing students to settle into city life quickly and without the worry of letting financial pressures affect their focus. This combination of safety, sustainable costs, and a venerable abundance of sunlight (over 300 days to be exact), saw Madrid ranked seventh in the 2015 European Cities Ranking, which compared the continent’s 25 largest metropolises.

As Madrid has fast become a destination of choice for young European startups, a burgeoning network of supportive infrastructure for entrepreneurs has sprouted across the city map. From municipal-funded facilities such as the former neo-Mudéjar slaughterhouse turned cultural precinct El Matadero, to a former sawmill that has been converted into the MediaLab Prado, a modern hub for digital culture and technology – the city is dotted with open-access spaces that provide a boost to any up-and-coming business mind. In 2015, Google even chose Madrid as the location for its startup incubator Google Campus, which can be found inside a former submarine factory not far from the park-straddled banks of the Manzanares river.

However, if there is one unifying thread that weaves through Madrid’s ever-evolving narrative, it is the city’s warm and welcoming attitude to outsiders. A long his-tory of receiving economic migrants from both around the country and abroad has nurtured deeply-held attitudes of acceptance and affability. When visitors arrive in Madrid, they aren’t just encouraged to fi t in, but are made to feel as if they belong too. This shared spirit of conviviality is what gives both the city and IEU’s Madrid campus its distinctive verve – an exuberance that is as much a part of the city’s identity as it is a daily expression of the local way of life.

**Written by: The Report Company