Gap Year in Spain: Bienvenidos!

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Spanish culture is widely known for it's unique styles of art and music. The Spanish created Flamenco music and wonderfully unflattering portraits of royalty. The painters El Greco and Francisco de Goya emerged in the 18th century as Spain's most prolific artists. From Spain's Gothic cathedrals to its breathtaking beaches, Spain is perfect for a gap year.

  • Capital City: Madrid
  • Population: 47,042,984
  • Popular Destinations: Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia
  • Currency: Euro

While Spain is a westernized first world country, there is still a large need for volunteers. Conservation is needed to protect locals species and to keep Spain's beaches clean for the future. Volunteers often live with a host-family and are provided several weeks of Spanish lessons. Volunteers are placed throughout Spain. Programs range from protecting Spain's pristine coasts to helping out at inner city orphanages. Volunteering in Spain provides a great opportunity to explore one of the most popular destinations in Europe while also learning about Spanish culture and traditions. If you choose to Volunteer, you must be open-minded and willing to adapt to a new environment. Spain provides both a fascinating and fun place to volunteer abroad!

An Ariel View of Passeig de Colom
An Ariel View of Passeig de Colom

Spain is one of the most popular destinations in Europe, especially Barcelona. As one of the most traveled destinations on earth, especially for students, Spain's metropolitan areas offer a variety of internship opportunities that are tailored to meet your professional goals. While the Spanish economy is struggling at the moment, Spain's diverse number of businesses means that you will have many placement opportunities with numerous companies. Whether you're interested in healthcare, business, non-profit management, or anything in between you will have no shortage of opportunities to choose from in Spain!

Cost of Living in Spain:

Compared to other western European nations the cost of living is very cheap. In fact, the cost of living in Spain has actually come down in several major economic centers throughout the country. Apartment rents have declined about 10-20% since the financial crisis began. However, while rent has become quite cheap, the cost of good in tourist areas has begun to sky-rocket. For groceries and your everyday needs, it's best to avoid tourist shopping centers.

Culture and Etiquette in Spain:

Traditionally, Spain's social structure emphasizes the family before all else, including both the nuclear and the extended family. They provide both a social and a financial support network. Over the years, familial networks have become less tight, but in comparison to the United States, men and women are less likely to move away from home until their late 20's.

The Nou Camp Stadium in Barcelona
The Nou Camp Stadium in Barcelona

During Spain's history, there have been long periods where different religious groups have coexisted, including Muslims, Jews and Christians. However, Spanish culture is predominantly Catholic, which becomes apparent in every small town, where the most grandiose building is typically the church.

In business, trust is very important. As a result, there are less quick networking opportunities since most companies desire long lasting relationships built on a slow, but necessary trusting bond. It is important that you spend sufficient time letting your business colleagues get to know you. Face-to-face contact is preferred to written or telephone communication. When meeting a new person, always shake hands and refer to them as Don or Dona before using his/her first name.

Health and Safety in Spain:

The Spanish take Health & Safety very seriously. The Red Cross has a 24 hour emergency ambulance service for anyone in need. Added to this, there is also Chemists (pharmacies) that are open 24 hours a day. If you are sick in Spain, it is not hard for you to receive the aid that your need.

Street Traffic at Night in Madrid
Street Traffic at Night in Madrid

While Spain does not suffer from widespread disease, there are smaller health and safety factors for you to be aware of. Spain is a very hot country, so intense sunburn is prevalent. One should always try and avoid the blazing sun by wearing hats (preferably fashionable ones) and having sunscreen with them at all times. And, on those blisteringly hot days, one should try to buy bottled drinking water if possible. While all of the Food Establishments and Public Swimming Pools are spot checked and regularly examined by the health inspectors, the drinking water in Spain is not held to the same high standards as the water in the countries like The U.S. and England.

While the crime rate is relatively low in Spain, Spain's economic power has declined in recent years so that rate has risen slightly. The rural towns typically have less crime than the cities, but the cities are still safe and have a strong police force. It's always best to avoid certain streets at nighttime and to carry mace for you own personal protection.

Why Take a Gap Year in Spain?

Spain has an extraordinary artistic heritage. From the beautiful portraits of its artistic Golden Age to the modern cubists and surrealists (such as Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Joan Miro and Salvador Dali), Spain's artistic history is matched only by the other great renaissance countries of France and Italy. Spain also has breathtaking architecture, ranging from prehistoric monuments in Minorca to the intricate fabulist sculptures in Barcelona. Between bullfights, fantastic beaches, and lots of warm sunshine, how can anyone refuse this fabulous country?

The famous Park Guell in Barcelona
The famous Park Guell in Barcelona

Photo Credit: Passeig de Colom - Nou Camp Stadium - Madrid - Park Guell

Do you think there is something missing in our guide to a gap year in Spain? Contact us and let us know! We want to make sure our information is relevant and up to date.

Programs & Reviews

The Spanish Language & Culture Program at the University of Salamanca, offered through Aspire by API, takes recent high school graduates (minimum age of 17) on the trip of a lifetime! The level of passion in Spain is matched in very...
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Greenheart's volunteer program in Ibiza is ideal for volunteers who have an active interest in sustainable living and are committed to protecting the environment. Ibiza draws crowds of tourists to its Mediterranean beaches every summer....
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Smaller Earth is here to insure your fantastic au pair experience! With families in Madrid, Seville, Barcelona, Malaga and Santander, you will experience the essence of Spanish culture while living and working for a welcoming Spanish host...
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Be a conversation volunteer with Cultural Homestay International in Spain! CHI offers native English speakers the opportunity to volunteer in Spain by living with a host-family and providing a maximum of 15 hours a week of English lessons...
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Live Languages Abroad offers a range of Spanish Gap Year Courses in Spain for Gap Year students. These short-term and long-term courses are held in Madrid and ideal for students who want to learn Spanish from scratch or seriously improve...
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Peace Boat's Global Voyages are an amazing way to explore the world, while being part of a dynamic learning community. Guest educators - activits, academics, entrepeneurs, journalists and artists from around the world - are invited onboard...
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This gap year program starts with a month-long intensive Spanish study course followed by more culture and language courses. Students will be placed in the appropriate class based on level of language study. Although no previous Spanish...
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Greenheart Travel invites you to participate in language immersion programs throughout the beautiful country of Spain! Our program offers you the opportunity to help a local family improve their English skills by practicing their English...
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Spend your gap year abroad in Seville, Spain, a town known for its enchanting architecture, mouthwatering food, and friendly and hospitable residents. Could there be a better place to soak up a foreign culture? No, there isn't. CIEE has...
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A long-term gap year course is the ideal solution for those looking for rapid acquisition of Spanish. The Spanish Gap Year course in Salamanca is designed for recent graduates on a gap year or for those taking a career-break. Students...
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Learn Spanish in Spain with Education First (EF). EF's Spanish language schools are designed to give you the best study abroad experience possible, immersing you in the culture of Spain and the spanish language. Study in the modern, yet...
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Join Aspire by API at the University of Barcelona! Gap year students study at the University of Barcelona. Students are not required to have any Spanish but at least one year is recommended. At the beginning of the program, students will...
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Live Languages Abroad offers a range of Spanish Gap Year Courses in Spain for Gap Year students. These short-term and long-term courses are held in Granada and ideal for students who want to learn Spanish from scratch or seriously improve...
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Join Aspire by API at Complutense University in Madrid! The Intensive Language Program in Madrid gives gap year students the opportunity to learn the essentials of the Spanish language including oral speech, reading comprehension, and...
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Study Spanish abroad in Valencia by taking a Spanish gap year course! The third largest city in Spain, Valencia has a rich cultural history open for exploration during your gap year. The Spanish Gap Year in Valencia is the ideal long-term...
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Ask a Question About Taking a Gap Year in Spain

Do you have a burning question about taking a gap year abroad in Spain? We're here to help! Most questions are answered within 24 hours. Here are some example questions:

  • What's the local cost of living like in Spain?
  • What's the one place I can't miss while traveling in Spain?
  • What kind of safety concerns should I be aware of in Spain?