Where Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic connect, Spain has a fascinating history, a diverse culture and five official languages: Catalan, Galician, Basque (Euskara), Aranese and Spanish. Embrace the rich local cuisines, lifestyles, festivals, architecture and music. Stroll trough the the bright and colorful cities and villages, and stop by one of the carts selling hot churros that you dip in thick, hot chocolate.

Fútbol (soccer) is the most popular sport, with fans passionately dedicated to the national team, La Roja (The Red One). Cycling, basketball, lectures and concerts take up a lot of teens’ free time. Weekend evening: parties, movies and hanging out in cafés or the local town square.

Culture & Community

You’ll most likely live in an urban or suburban area of Spain, even in the Canary or Balearic Islands.  Many families eat both lunch and dinner together. 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).Extended family members visit each other often, especially for large weekend gatherings. 

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School

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You’ll likely attend a public high school with a variety of different classes like Spanish language, literature, and physical education. School runs from Monday to Friday, 8am to 3pm but you may have additional classes on some afternoons. It’s also customary for students to call their teachers by their first name.

Language

Spain has five official languages—Aranese, Catalan, Galician, Basque (Euskara) and Spanish. With Spain being a multilingual nation, 70% of the students hosted there live in bilingual communities where Spanish is not the primary language spoken in school and by the host family. However,  Spanish language study is compulsory in all schools and many people are bilingual so you will still have the opportunity to practice your Spanish. AFS offers the Rosetta Stone Spanish course to prepare you for your exchange.

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Food

While each region of Spain has its own food specialties, Spanish cuisine is generally Mediterranean in style with lots of olive oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes and peppers. Lunch is the main meal of the day and is served around 2 or 3 pm, while dinner may start as late as  9 pm when most family members can be together. Fish and seafood are abundant, but red meat and pork are also eaten nearly every day. With traditional Spanish tapas, you can try all different kinds of foods. Don’t miss the paella (rice with vegetables and seafood) and gazpacho (a cold tomato soup).

Explore the Programs Available in Spain