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When you attend high school in Spain, the friendly atmosphere and rich blend of cultures will teach you how to make the most of life. Immerse yourself in Spanish languages and cultures by living with a host family and attending a local high school. This is the best way to develop fluency in Spanish languages and customs.

People live life to the fullest in Spain. But, not in a hurried way. Instead, Spaniards tend to take their time, deliberately, to appreciate the world and people around them. You’ll savor long, multi-course meals (of some of the most delectable dishes, like pisto, paella, patatas bravas, and gazpacho), and wander vivacious villages and charming cities.

Whether it’s the middle of the day or night, you’re sure to find vibrant street culture. Imagine neighbors strolling around their blocks, older people playing checkers on the sidewalks, and teenagers hanging out in plazas. And, with such abundant art, architecture, literature, cuisine, history, and more to explore, you’re sure to find a wealth of cultural experiences to enjoy. You’ll be quoting Don Quixote in no time.

What's included in your experience

  • 70 Years Experience

Eligibility

Graduates Eligible? No, participants cannot have graduated prior to the start of the program
Minimum GPA 2.5
Age Range 15 yrs, 0 months to
17 yrs, 4 months at start of program
Language Skills Preferred, but not required
COVID-19 Vaccine Required

Your Journey to Spain

In the months before your departure, AFSers have the opportunity to participate in various preparatory activities, including an online Student Learning Journey, which is an interactive course that brings AFSers from around the world together to learn how to develop essential global skills, intercultural communication techniques, and practice social impact, maximizing the outcomes of the AFS learning experience.

AFS-USA will coordinate and share your international travel with you. You will need to coordinate your own travel to the point of international departure. From there, your journey in Spain will begin when you land, where you’ll be met by staff, volunteers and meet your fellow AFSers from around the world. Shortly after arrival, you will attend an arrival orientation and get a crash course on Spanish culture, living with a host family, safety, and support structures.

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Your High School in Spain

You’ll likely attend a public high school with a variety of different classes like Spanish language, literature, and physical education. Depending on the region, your classes will be taught in Castilian Spanish, Catalan (in Catalonia), Galician (in Galicia), or Euskera (in Basque country). School is in session Monday to Friday from 8am to 3pm, but you may have additional classes on some afternoons if you go home for a siesta at lunch. (Although, it is a misconception that Spaniards always take naps in the middle of the day. Work and school usually prevent this customary 20-minute nap.) And, don’t be surprised if your classmates use their teacher’s first name. This is not considered disrespectful to educators; it’s just their custom.

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Depending on your age and the courses you have completed at home, you’ll be enrolled in 4º ESO (last year of secondary education, equivalent to 10th grade in the U.S.), 1st bachillerato (equivalent to 11th grade in U.S.), or 2nd bachillerato (equivalent to 12th grade in U.S.).

You may choose from three areas of specialization:

  • Sciences
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • The Arts

Each specialization consists of three types of classes:

  • Comunes (common ones), compulsory for all students, regardless of specialization
  • Materias propias de la modalidad (sub-courses), specific to your specialization
  • Optativas (electives), to round out your curriculum as you like

While we can’t guarantee that particular courses or specializations will be available where you live in Spain, we will do everything we can to enroll you in your top choice.

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Your Accommodations While Studying Abroad in Spain

AFSers have lived in communities all throughout Spain, but you’ll most likely be in an urban or suburban area. You might even end up in the Canary or Balearic Islands. In cities, families typically live in flats. Our students commonly share a bedroom with a host sibling. Outside of cities and especially in small villages, families tend to live in houses with a small garden.

afs student with host family

Meeting Your Spanish Family

Like anywhere in the world, all families in Spain are different. But, they’re usually warm, welcoming, and tight-knit. It’s not uncommon for people in their twenties or thirties to live at home until they get married, so you might also have older host brothers and sisters.

Many families eat both lunch and dinner together, especially on weekends. Be ready for communal meals and other gatherings to become lively, and even a bit noisy, as Spaniards do tend to speak somewhat loudly in larger groups. While at first the pace of conversation may leave you a bit confused, through practice and full immersion, you’ll be up to speed (and maybe volume) in time.

Available Scholarships

AFS-USA scholarships are made possible by the generosity of numerous donors who all have a deep connection with AFS and value intercultural exchanges as necessary for the promotion of peace and justice in the world. Upon submission, applications will be reviewed and matched with the most applicable scholarship, if available. All scholarships are partial, and scholarship award amounts will be determined based on program length. For additional funding resources, check out our Fundraising page. You can view all available national and local scholarships on our Scholarships page.

What's Included

  • 70+ years of experience delivering high-quality programs through a worldwide network of 50,000 dedicated volunteers
  • Accommodations with a vetted host family
  • Round-trip international airfare for the designated program dates
  • School enrollment fees
  • Worldwide, 24-hour emergency assistance
  • Access to an in-country support team and network, as well as our Participant Support Department based here in the U.S.
  • Free Language Proficiency Testing: after your immersive study abroad experience, take an AAPPL (ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages) language proficiency test to be able to add your language skills to your resume or possibly your high school transcript!
  • Orientations and intercultural education before and during your program
  • International secondary medical travel coverage
  • Visa support and guidance
  • Inclusion in a worldwide returnee and alumni network of over 1,000,000 people

Visa Info

Do I need a visa/residence permit for Spain? YES. Visa + Residence Permit
How do I apply for the visa? (By mail, In-person, In host country) In-person
Visa/Residence Permit Process Difficulty Level (Easy, Average, Complex) Complex
Estimated Visa/Residence Permit Expenses
($ – $$$)
$$$
Frequently Asked Visa Questions Visit our general visa FAQ page for more information.
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Returning Home

“Life-changing” is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad. “Transformed” is another one.
When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and developed the confidence and resilience to accomplish anything you set out to do.
That transformation isn’t only visible to you, though – others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers. Second language fluency, intercultural competence, creativity, and critical reasoning will help you succeed, whatever path you take. “Life-changing” means it’s only the beginning.
It’s not just an adventure abroad; it’s a whole new reality. The perspectives and personal connections you gained will stay with you and likely draw you back to the second home you found while attending high school in Spain.

In fact, our alumni reviews have made AFS one of the top-rated organizations in the study abroad industry.