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At the crossroads of Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic, Spain has a fascinating history and a wildly diverse culture. There are four official languages – Catalan, Galician, Basque (Euskara), and Spanish – and a variety of local cuisines, lifestyles, festivals, architecture and music. Embrace the diversity and get to know Spain as a local.

Spanish families are typically open and welcoming, eager to make a good impression. Spanish families—including the extended family—tend to be close-knit, visiting each other frequently and sharing in large weekend gatherings. Perhaps because of the climate and long daylight hours, Spaniards begin socialising later in the day and end later at night than their European neighbours.

Distinctive cultural aspects include bullfighting, flamenco dancing, festivals in Easter and New Years and patron saint feasts.

Eligibility Requirements

You must be 16, 17 or 18
Enrolled in a NZ school
Getting ‘achieved’ or more in your school work

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare
  • Airport Pick-up
  • Host Family Placement
  • Housing
  • Meals
  • School Placement
  • Medical Insurance
  • 24/7 Emergency Support
  • Assistance with Application Process
  • Visa Application Assistance
  • Pre-Departure Orientation
  • Orientations during your time abroad
  • Access to Alumni Network
  • Continuous Support
  • Worldwide Presence
  • 70 Years Experience

What you are responsible for

  • Vaccinations
  • Visa and Passport Fees
  • School Uniform
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Host family and culture

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.

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).

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Language and school

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.

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.

Let AFS guide your intercultural adventure

Kick-start your future with AFS and discover who you really are, make new lifetime friendships and immerse yourself in a fascinating intercultural experience.

This programme begins at your home country with a pre-departure orientation and continues with orientations, other supported learning activities and facilitated conversations which will help you maximize your experience, cope with the challenges of navigating a new culture and community as well as gain knowledge, skills, and a global understanding throughout your time abroad, and as you return to your home country. AFS volunteers will be there to support and guide you and your host family the whole way through.

Find out more