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Study Abroad in Spain

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.

Things To Know About Spain

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


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 Preferred, but not required

Based on differences in culture, strict government regulation of medications, and other local customs, it has been our experience that not all of our international AFS partners are able to support students with certain diagnoses, including but not limited to, severe allergies, strict dietary restrictions, ADD/ADHD, and those currently taking or who have taken psychotropic medications and/or received counseling for mental/psychological issues within the past year. If this applies to you, please get in touch with an AFS Study Abroad Specialist early so that we can determine the right experience for you.

Your Journey to Spain

Visa Information

AFS will provide visa guidance and support documents (if applicable). Visa processes can be lengthy and complex; you may be required to travel long distances to apply for the visa if there is not an embassy, consulate, etc. close to your home. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months beyond a return date from your host country. We urge you to apply for or renew your passport as soon as possible if applying to an AFS program. We recommend not taking any trips (domestically or internationally) within 2 months prior to your AFS program as it may interfere with the visa application process and result in a late program start date.

Travel & Orientation

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.

Also during this time, 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 and volunteers…as well as 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.


Your Accommodations

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 Host 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.


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.


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.

What's Included

  • 75+ years of experience delivering high-quality programs through a worldwide network of 32,000 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.
  • 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

Scholarships and Aid

We believe that studying abroad should not be contingent on personal finances. When you apply, we work with you to understand your family’s needs and match you with available scholarships and aid. 100% of accepted applicants with demonstrated need receive funds.

Learn More

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.

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 from your study abroad in Spain, 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 in Spain.

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