What Makes Spain Perfect for High School Study Abroad Programs?

by Danielle DeSimone

You want the Lizzie McGuire movie experience, but with a little less Italian pop and a little bit more flamenco flair. While we can’t guarantee that international singing sensations will fall in love with you during your high school study abroad adventure, we guarantee a life changing experience, complete with every cliche you can think of. There’s no better country to explore, especially as a high school student. The perfect balance of fun and education, Spain is the center of Gaudí architecture, Don Quixote, and empanadas, and, of course, a history and culture that has lasted for millennia.

Girl looking at Barcelona from a balcony
Have your Lizzie McGuire moment with a little more Spanish flair

These reasons barely scratch the surface of what makes Spain such a perfect location for high school study abroad programs. So what are you waiting for? ¡Vamos! Keep reading to learn more...

¡Conjuntivo y Subjuntivo!

After years of your teacher drilling those Spanish verb tenses into your head, you can finally put it to good use! With an estimated 559 million Spanish speakers worldwide, Spanish is one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world, especially throughout the Americas.

Studying abroad in Spain as a high school student will completely immerse you in the language. You’ll be forced to use everything you’ve learned in the classroom, but you’ll also have to think quickly on your feet and learn from experience, instead of just your textbook. You can also become completely entrenched in the Spanish language by choosing to live in a homestay; if your program provides this housing option, you absolutely should take advantage of it and live with a local Spanish family. 

Local Friends

Spain is a great place for high school students to study abroad because it is so easy to make friends with locals who are your own age! You’ll find fellow high school students hanging out in most central city plazas. 

Most Spanish cities also have a number of youth community centers. These funky, modern-designed buildings can have anything from skate parks to theater stages, dance classes to art walls (graffiti welcome for any future Okuda San Miguel). You can also make friends with the locals by joining community clubs centered on one of Spain’s favorite national pastimes: ¡fúbol!

View of a valley and mountains in Spain
Looking for adventures in the mountains? There’s a program for that.

Oh So #Cultured

Like putting a name to a face, studying abroad in Spain will give a “face” to your Spanish, history, art, or government studies. Instead of reading about the annual tomato-fight festival in class, you can live it by actually going to La Tomatina and getting in on the fun! There is no better way to learn about Spanish culture than to live in it, every day.

Pinxtos, Paella, and Patatas Bravas, Oh my!

Yes, of course, food is a huge reason why Spain is the perfect location for high school study abroad programs. Not only do teenagers love to eat, but food is an integral part of Spanish culture. Nothing will teach you more about Spanish customs than eating tapas for dinner, sharing small plates of jamón ibérico (Spanish cured ham) and croquetas (mashed potatoes stuffed with ham, rolled in breadcrumbs, and then fried) in a crowded tapas bar. 

You’ll also want to join the late-night crowd with 2 a.m. churros and chocolate, a nightly tradition and obsession with chocolate that dates back to 1585, when chocolate first landed on Spain’s shores from the New World.

These culinary experiences are important because so much of Spanish food culture is built on the idea of community. When you engage with the local food scene, you are engaging with the local community and traditions (just make sure you know how to appropriately dine like a Spaniard).

History FTW 

One of the most exciting parts of studying abroad in a country like Spain is that feeling that you’re in the middle of living history. On every street corner is a historic building, museum, or monument that marks a time period long before your own (you can even embrace your inner fantasy nerd and stroll through the filming locations of Star Wars and Game of Thrones!). 

Spain has some of the most interesting history in Europe as one of the most powerful empires, as well as being able to lay claim to some pretty diverse cultural heritage. As a result, Spain has been at the center of world politics for centuries, making it a great place for high school students to “time travel” to and learn about history in a hands-on way.

Barcelona cityscape
Looking for a more metropolitan city with access to the beach? There’s a program for that.

The Siesta Lifestyle 

Hey, let’s face it, high school can be stressful. With all those early mornings, endless deadlines, and extracurricular activities, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. In Spain, the pace of life is entirely different.

The Spanish people move through life much more leisurely, making time for the important things in life: relationships with friends and family and enjoying simple pleasures like a long meal. There is even a word (sobremesa) for the Spanish tradition of lingering after a long meal to relax, chat, and digest your food.

We’re not saying study abroad is a vacation (the word “study” is in there somewhere, after all), but studying abroad in Spain will show you a whole other way of living that can be a nice break from your stressful school schedule, and will make you reevaluate how you approach your own day-to-day life back home.

Something for Everyone

Whether you’re dreaming of the mountains, addicted to the pulsing rhythm of city streets, or called by the sounds of the ocean, there are an endless number of high school study abroad programs for you to choose from.

All you have to do is choose the one that will meet your academic needs, what you want to study, and your personal lifestyle preferences. Would you prefer a capital city like Madrid, or a smaller city like Salamanca?

Flamenco dancers in bright patterned dresses
Dance out of your comfort zone with flamenco lessons!

Resume Booster 

Aside from the incredible personal growth and learning in an exciting new way, studying abroad in Spain is also great for your resume! With colleges admissions becoming increasingly competitive, having international experience is proven to set you apart from the rest of the crowd. 

Not many high school students study abroad at such a young age, so making the decision to explore this incredible country before you even get to college will show college admissions officers that you are not afraid to open yourself up to new experiences. 

Spain is a lively, diverse country that offers endless opportunities for high school students not to only explore the world, but explore themselves. Studying abroad pushes you outside of your comfort zone, making you reevaluate your way of living in the light of someone else’s. And if the culture shock of being in a new country doesn’t push you outside your comfort zone, the flamenco dance classes definitely will!