I'm a United States citizen who returned from a trip to Spain this summer. The purpose of my trip was to take a Spanish course in Malaga. Allow me to explain my circumstances.
When I arrived at Madrid Bajaras on May 30, I mistakenly exited the airport security zone and had to re-enter. I was looking for a hotel and accidentally left the zone of the airport where my connecting flight to Malaga would depart from. When I attempted to enter the security zone again, the IO asked why I had an entry and exit stamp from the same day. I explained that I was lost in the airport looking for the Air Room Madrid Hotel. He reluctantly stamped my passport and allowed me to enter. From there I went to the hotel to sleep for a few hours before my connecting flight to Malaga, and I arrived safely and remained in Malaga without any issues.
The problem occurred when I left Spain from Malaga airport on July 14. The IO examined my passport and asked why I had two stamps from the same day, and I tried my best to explain in Spanish that I got lost in the Bajaras Airport looking for the hotel. (It's located in the basement.) He proceeded to question me about the purpose of my trip. I explained I was a student at a school in Malaga, and he asked me for a student identification card. I told him that I did not have an identification card because the Spanish Consulate website said U.S. citizens are not required to obtain a student visa or an identification card to study for fewer than 90 days. He insisted that schools give cards to foreign students.
The entire process was a nightmare because I was trying my best to speak to the IO in Spanish as best as I could because he didn't speak English, but his accent and rate of speech made me uncomfortable. After the line of questioning, the IO told me that I could not return to Spain until I bring him proof that I was a student, and he was insistent on an identification card. However, the only documents I possess from the school are a certificate of completion from the director, an attendance sheet with my grades for the class, coursework and a textbook from the class. The only thing I had in my hand luggage was the textbook, and I understand why that is insufficient proof. The good thing is I don't have a giant X or other mark on my passport.
I've contacted the Spanish Embassy in Houston through e-mail and explained all of this, and they simply told me that if it's true that I stayed fewer than 90 days in Spain, I could return to the country without a problem. However, their response didn't reassure me about returning to Spain because I'm afraid I've been banned from the country. The reason I'm asking is because one day I would like to continue traveling to Europe, and I'm nervous that I've been placed in the Schengen Information System for a violation. I'm planning a trip to Italy next summer as a tourist, and I'm afraid that I'll be denied entry at the border for what happened to me in Spain.
Based on this information, I hope someone would be willing to provide an educated guess to the following questions:
Are certificates of completion, attendance, and coursework enough to prove I was a student at a language school in Malaga to Spanish authorities?
Would I have difficulties entering another Schengen country because of my experience in Spain?