Gap Year Programs in Spain offer you the opportunity of earning college credits, absorbing a new and vibrant culture, and expanding your sense of identity. With a blended geography of mountainous regions, Mediterranean Sea, an active volcano, and borders with Portugal, Gibraltar and Morocco, Spain is a fascinating setting with lots to discover. Whether you want to take away a proficiency in Spanish language, a certificate of volunteer service or have a somewhat structured adventure, there are different gap programs to choose from and many reasons to place Spain on the top of your list.
Gap Year Programs in Spain: Some Basics
If you are not quite ready to go to college, Gap Year Programs in Spain provide an opportunity to customize your experience through different combinations of pre-arranged excursions and free time, academics and exploration. Spain is considered a Western country despite its Roman heritage, and has both an ancient and contemporary vibe, depending on where you go. Spending an entire year abroad gives one time to live and settle in, cultivate relationships and routines, and gain a global perspective. Not to mention plenty of occasions to pick up and practice your Spanish conversation. With Spain as your extended classroom, taking a gap year after high school may be time well invested.
DID YOU KNOW? One of the ways people greet one another in Spain is to say “hola!”(web)[i]
What Makes Taking a Gap Year in Spain Unique?
First off, Gap Year Programs in Spain are available with different popular cities. Do you want to be based in Barcelona with its medieval buildings, museums and city beaches? Or do you envision walking through the streets of Madrid, checking out the fountains, outdoor sculptures and fantastic museums in the day and the tapas bars and jazz lounges at night? Would you enjoy calling Salamanca your host home? As one of the most important university cities in Spain[ii], its palaces, palatial houses and old city quarter could be an enchanting place to live and learn. Each city has different features, so make sure to think about the type of environment you want to ‘live’ in for an entire year. Within that year, your program may have some excursions within and around, but take some time to find one that speaks to you.
A Train Runs Through It
Spain has the most extensive high speed rail network in Europe, which means travel from the provincial cities to Madrid and Barcelona is pretty easy.[iii] Pick up subtle differences in dialect and customs as you visit more of the region. Some programs offer day trips, and let you mix and match where you want to go with when you want to go.
Spending a gap year abroad in Spain might be a great way to prepare yourself with Spanish language skills. Join with other international students who share your desire to learn in and outside of school. Some programs are offered for college credit and give your resume that extra boost. Plus, having to make your way in a foreign language may help you achieve fluency, not to mention connect with others. Experiential learning is often the way to go!
Host with the Most
For those who are interested, staying with a host family can help build a feeling of ‘home away from home’, give you authentic insight into Spain, its heritage, and local culture and cuisine. Or, choose to stay in a student residence or apartment. Taking a full year means you can move beyond the quickness of a short stay which can be mentally and physically exhausting. Shop at local markets or stores, take Spanish cooking classes with new friends, or volunteer at your community center.
Spain is the birthplace of Picasso, Goya, Diego Velazquez and other well-known Spanish painters, so if you love seeing artwork in its home town, Spain is a great place to capture it. If you prefer dance, you may want to learn flamenco! Your gap year is what you make it. Let history come alive by visiting the Don Quixote and Sancho Panza statue in the Plaza de Espana in Madrid, the Alhambra in Granada or make sure to take in art museums, parks and seasonal festivals. Maybe you will be around for the “running of the bulls” in July!
Hungry for Culture?
Culture is revealed in food as much as art, perhaps. And Spain has lots of all of that. Spending your gap year in a foreign country gives you time to have “tapas Tuesday” with new friends, or decide whether you prefer the more Mediterranean, Inland or Atlantic fare.
Find Gap Year Programs in Spain
Having a picture in mind of what type of experience you want to have will help you look through the listings for Gap Year Programs in Spain. Make sure to contact the providers for more information; the extra details you get will help you stay in tune with application deadlines as well as help you decide on how you want to spend your year.