Rugged coastline, blossoming flora, waves of cerulean, and sunshine that just won’t quit—welcome to the Island of Eternal Spring! Tenerife is the largest of the volcanic Canary Islands, bookended by colonial towns and black sand beaches, but the true star is El Teide, the volcano dead center to all the action. El Teide is active, and earned the island its other nickname—la Isla del Infierno (Island of Hell). The volcano is likely to erupt again in the future, but hey, yolo, right? This island is for those students who like their learning served with a side of adventure, so archipe-let’s-go study abroad in Tenerife, Spain!
What you need to know about studying abroad in Tenerife, Spain
Studying abroad in Tenerife shouts fiesta, but stay focused! This tiny pebble afloat in the Atlantic has an impressive amount of sites and activities packed within its shores that may just be kryptonite for students who are easily distracted. Students looking for a more authentic Spanish experience may want to avoid the south coast, to which tourists flock, but overall the island is a popular destination for European tourists year-round.
Popular subjects to study. Tenerife has incredible ecological and geological diversity, forged through millennia of tectonic activity. El Teide is one of the 16 Decade Volcanoes scattered across the face of the planet, and offers a truly unique backdrop for students with an interest in natural sciences. Given the surroundings, students of subjects such as conservation & preservation, earth sciences, ecology, and marine biology will also enjoy practical advantages to studying abroad in Tenerife.
For obvious reasons, Tenerife is a great destination for students of Spanish, too. Canarian Spanish exhibits similarities to Andalusian and Caribbean Spanish, although you’ll most likely be learning good ol’ formal Spanish in the classroom. Use the language outside of lessons to pick up colloquial differences and to really expand upon your Spanish skills; you’ll surely stand out in the workforce later on.
Short term and summer programs vs. long term programs. You’re looking at year-round, picture-perfect weather in Tenerife, so trying to choose a program duration based on avoiding tourists would unfortunately be a fool’s errand.
Summer study abroad programs in Tenerife are amongst the most popular, and great for students looking to squeeze in a few more credits before graduation while sparing costs. Fall, spring, and academic year programs will definitely put your Spanish skills to the test and take you beyond “cómo estás?” and “dónde está mi pizza?” You’ll also be granted greater exposure to the culture that called you to the island in the first place!
Attending universities vs. other program types. The most accessible path to Tenerife might be third-party programs since your home university probably only offers programs in mainland Spain. There are also five universities for international students in Tenerife who already have a strong command of Spanish and want to apply to certain programs directly.
Life in Tenerife for International Students
Tenerife is like Ibiza’s cool older cousin who grew up and moved away; it’s got sand, surf, sun, and cervezas, but it’s far more low-key and dignified—perfect for students looking for a mellow balance between learning and leisure.
Along with the rest of Spain, students who study abroad in Tenerife will enjoy siesta, a built-in naptime when shops close and people head indoors during the hottest part of the day. After class, head to your favorite tapas bar with classmates to watch a fútbol match and see how quickly you get amped up like a local. One other reason you’ll be glad you chose to study abroad in Spain? No classes on Fridays, amigo.
Students who study in Tenerife will live in either homestays or dormitories, but if the choice is yours, choose the former. There’s nothing better than home-cooked comida, and host families give you the chance to immerse in Spanish culture and language while marvelling at differences in norms (why does your host mom keep the milk in the cabinet under the TV?)—an opportunity that won’t necessarily be offered to you in a dorm.
Tenerife has an extensive public transport system, and on such a tiny island, the roads are easy enough to navigate for those students with the money to rent a car. The island may look isolated on a map, but it doesn’t have to be—the island has two airports that can quickly get you to mainland Europe, and Tenerife is just a stone’s throw from the African coast as well.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
El Teide is active, but don’t let that stop you from studying in Tenerife—you’ll know if real danger is imminent! Seismic activity will clue the proper authorities into whether or not he’s ready to blow his top again, and you’ll be evacuated accordingly. ¡Hay no problema!
If you’re around in February, catch the Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife, a days-long carnival celebration that attracts visitors from all over the world and that comes second only to Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro in terms of size and popularity.
If you’re planning on exploring a few other European destinations in your downtime, consider Ryanair for your flights. They’re perfect for students and backpackers who are willing to trade in a little comfort for affordable airfare.
A remarkable location defined by stunning topography and divine weather, choosing to study abroad in Tenerife, Spain will leave you singing like a canary. Sounds like a holatta fun!
Want to learn more? Read our comprehensive guide on studying abroad in Spain!