Year — Fall 2019
Application deadline: December 5, 2018
Semester — Spring 2019
Application deadline: July 25, 2018
Spain’s warm, friendly atmosphere and rich blend of cultures make it an ideal place to rewrite your high school experience. Let the country known for the fiesta and siesta teach you how to make the most out of life, all while advancing your Spanish and expanding your world-view. By living with a host family and enrolling in a local school, you’ll be totally integrated in Spanish daily life. You’ll be able to experience what it’s like to be a regular Spanish teenager and build lasting friendships within your community. So why not step outside of your comfort zone and spend a year or semester in one of the most beautiful countries in the world?
Life is slow in Spain, and people live it to the fullest. So if you like to relax, sit back, and absorb the world around you, you’re bound to enjoy the tradition of long, multi-course meals and mid-day siestas (when you can go home for lunch and a quick nap). Depending on the region, locals might speak Catalan, Basque, Galician or Valencian along with Spanish. But what people tend to have in common is their affectionate nature. You might find that Spaniards take a while to make friends, but you’ll see that the bonds they form are strong and long-lasting.
Your journey to Spain will begin in New York, where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the US. Together you’ll attend an overnight orientation, and then travel to Madrid where you’ll be met by AFS Staff and Volunteers.
Soon you’ll be ready to head to your community. Along the way you’ll likely see cities and villages bathed in sunlight and full of colors. As you get closer to your new home, you may pass carts selling piping hot churros along with thick, hot chocolate to dip them into. Whether it’s the middle of the day or the middle of the night, you’re bound to see the vibrant street culture, with neighbors strolling around their block, old men playing checkers on the sidewalk, and teenagers hanging out in plazas.
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.
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.See where past AFSers have lived
The sun shines bright and long in Spain, so you’ll probably get together with friends later in the day or into the evening. On weekends teenagers like to go to parties, see movies, and hang out in cafés or the local town square. Fútbol (soccer) is the most popular sport, with fans passionately dedicated to the national team, La Roja (“The Red One”). Your Spanish friends might also enjoy other activities like cycling, basketball, or motorcycle racing.
With traditional Spanish tapas, you can try all different kinds of food, such as albóndigas (meatballs), calamares (fried squid), or tortilla de patatas (a potato omelet). Spanish food is usually cooked in the Mediterranean style with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, and peppers. Some popular dishes include paella (rice with vegetables and seafood) and gazpacho (a cold tomato soup). Dinner is normally eaten late, around 9 pm, but you can have a snack or sandwich to tide you over around 5 or 6 pm. For dessert you can enjoy churros dipped in chocolate or flan (a kind of custard) with caramel.
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 Euskara (in Basque country). School is in session Monday-Friday from 8am to 3pm, but you may have additional classes on some afternoons if you go home for a siesta at lunch. Don't be surprised if your classmates call their teacher by his or her first name—it doesn’t mean they don’t respect authority, it’s just their custom.
"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 feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. That transformation isn’t visible only to you, though - others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers, ranging from language fluency to intercultural competence and critical reasoning. "Life-changing" means it’s only the beginning.
Please Note: Travel date ranges are meant to help with general scheduling and are subject to change; please don’t book any travel based on these dates until you’ve received confirmation from AFS. All programs, prices, and travel dates are subject to change without notice.