High school is an excellent time to develop your language skills and get a taste of a new culture for the first time – there may be no better flavor than Spanish sabor! European history class is a lot more interesting when you get to see the Roman aqueducts in Segovia, the mansion of the royal family in Madrid, and the relics of the Spanish Civil War in Basque Country and Catalonia. Spain is also a mecca of art; you’ve heard of Picasso, Dali, and the museum El Prado, no?! After your high school program in Spain, you’ll graduate high school with a plethora of new skills and life experiences that will stay with you for life, so don’t miss out!
Once you’ve decided to pursue a high school program in Spain, you’ll be showered with options in various locations throughout the country. Did you know Spain has four official languages? Each of Spain’s regions has a distinct culture, but honestly, there is no wrong place for high school programs in Spain; each city is a gem of its own and you’ll love your experience there!
If you like the idea of affordable tapas and great mountain views, choose Granada. This Andalucian city is at the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas and wow, it is beautiful. Granada is influenced heavily by the Moorish culture, which you’ll see in the architecture, arts/crafts market, clothing (think genie pants), and many hookah bars. Make a visit to the Alhambra at the beginning of your stay and don’t forget to see flamenco song and dance; for the best music spots, check out the Sacromonte district.
For you history and art buffs, Madrid is calling! Smack dab in the city center you have the El Prado and Reina Sofia museums, which hold some of the world’s most famous art. The best part? These museums hold free entrance days very often! As the capital of Spain, Madrid holds the most important government buildings in the country and the architecture is truly stunning. While you’re in Madrid, you have to catch a Real Madrid soccer match; In fact, Madrileños will tell you that there is no other team worth watching.
Seville is Spain’s other southern hotspot, and wowee does it get hot in the summer (were talking 95 degrees fahrenheit). The size of Seville is perfect for high school students that are looking for a medium sized city to live in, with all the amenities, but not as many crowds, as a big city. Located on the Guadalquivir River, Seville is a great city to stroll around and take in the Andaluz culture.
To take in the architecture of Gaudí, a melting pot of Catalan and Spanish culture, and the beach all at once, check out high school programs in Barcelona. This city has everything, and it is awake 24 hours a day with music, theater, and dance. You can even visit the site of the 1992 Olympics on Montjuic near Plaza España or Gaudí’s Parc Guell, which overlooks the city and sea providing some views you won’t ever forget.
High School Programs in Spain
High school programs in Spain can last as short as two weeks during the summer time to an entire academic year, totally immersing you through taking classes at a local school. Any high school program in Spain will likely include cultural activities, excursions, language classes or resources, and 24/7 emergency support. There are even providers that offer excursions on their own, without classes, in order to give students a real sample of all of the country’s cities and diverse cultures; instead of focusing strictly on academics (sounds perfect, right!?), these program are more focused on adventurous travel experiences.
Some short-term summer programs for high school students in Spain focus on teaching students about Spanish culture as well as Spanish language immersion. These programs are filled with fun activities that help students get to know the city of their choosing alongside their classmates. Longer high school programs in Spain are typically more comprehensive, with courses in subjects that might be similar to what you take in high school back at home. If you are participating in a gap year program, you might even have the chance to attend university level courses and receive college credit as a high school student.
High school programs in Spain are available for students of any Spanish fluency level. Since high school programs are generally very structured, with a set itinerary and scheduled activities, there is a high level of support from on-site staff always available to students.
Scholarships & Costs
Good news: of all the European countries you could choose for high school programs abroad, Spain is one of the most affordable! Since high school programs in Spain are also very structured, you’ll pay for a lot of program costs (i.e. housing, most food, excursion, insurance, etc.) up front. Unless you are a wild shopper, you’ll be able to budget pretty easily during your time in Spain.
Two to four week, all inclusive summer programs hover between $2,500 to $6,000, while year-long programs or gap year programs are a little much less per month, costing as little as $11,000 per year. If you choose a high school program in Spain without all the bells and whistles, be sure you know what the estimated daily living costs are. A monthly metro pass is $50, a three course lunch is about $10, a movie ticket is $10, and a coffee is $3.
Scholarships are plentiful for high school students who want to pursue programs in Spain, whether directly from each program provider or through third party funding agencies. Check out GoAbroad’s high school scholarship directory to begin your search.
Accommodation & Visas
With the exception of pure adventure travel high school programs, it is likely that you’ll be staying with a homestay during your high school program in Spain. A homestay can mean that you’ll be staying with a señora, an older single woman whose children have grown out of the house, or a more traditional family with young children. Although, the latter is not as common in Spain specifically. It is probable that you’ll live with at least one other student from your program, sharing the immersive homestay experience, including delicious food, language immersion, and cultural insights, that you wouldn’t have if you lived in an apartment or dorm.
Spain has excellent public transportation; whether you’re in a big city like Barcelona or Madrid or a smaller town like Sevilla or Salamanca, you’ll be able to get around easily by train, bus, or foot. Spanish cities were made to explore, so aside from sleeping and eating in your new home, you’ll want to be outside enjoying your international experience! Internet and Wifi are common amenities in most accommodation and restaurants, so you’ll have no problem keeping in touch with family and friends back home.
You shouldn’t need a visa for high school programs in Spain that last for 90 days or less, but your program provider will be able to provide you with more information about specific requirements. To read more about visa information, visit GoAbroad’s Spanish Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Spain is a stellar choice for high school programs abroad because of its well developed programs, proximity to the rest of Europe, and flexibility on language requirements.
In most cities, students will easily get by with minimal Spanish language skills, but if you want to learn the language, don’t forget to push yourself to power through and speak Spanish, even when it is easier to speak English!
When you’re feeling frustrated with the language barrier, treat yourself to some of the best food the Mediterranean has to offer. The food in Spain is incredible and very fresh. With a homestay, you’ll have the chance to eat some of the best meals of your life.
Some common struggles for newcomers to Spain also revolve around time. Lunch is usually served at 2 p.m. and dinner may not be eaten until 9 p.m. or later. The Spanish people are also infamous for being late to meetings, class, scheduled transportation, and more. You’ll definitely learn a lot about patience during your time in Spain.
Infuse some Spanish culture into your life by participating in a high school program in Spain for a summer or academic year. Sí se puede!