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- Since emerging from the shadow of Franco in 1976, Spain has created a remarkable political and economic success story, capped by its hard-fought success in joining the European Union. It is solidly democratic today with a firm economic base. Unemployment has remained about 10%, but overall the economy is strong.

- Madrid and Barcelona are two of the world's grand cities, with about 5 million people. Both are a fascinating combination of the contemporary and the past with many new art museums and public buildings having been built by some of the world’s greatest architects. Spain is, suprisingly for all its liberal tendencies, a constitutional monarchy, and much of Spain's progress can be attributed to King Juan Carlos. He continues to be a powerful force behind the scenes.

- Felipe Gonzalez was the socialist president for 13 years, with policies that were mostly capitalist. Jose Maria Aznar's conservative party won the '96 elections by a slim margin, and he proved to be a cagey and effective leader. The country has remined free of violence or major discontent, but the March ’05 terrorist bombing combined with rising discontent over the Irag war, put José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in the Prime Minister’s chair to almost everyone’s surprise. Aznar was a full supporter of the U.S., while Zapatero moved quickly to repair relations with Europe. He withdrew Spain’s support of the US presence in Iraq and withdrew Spanish troop support.

- Spain has not solved the eternal Basque/ETA problem that periodically rocks the country, but the vast majority of the Basques and the Spanish government seem determined to clamp down. One more issue: close to Africa, Spain has attracted great numbers of Muslims, creating deep fissures in society, and is attempting to deal with this border as the U.S. ison the Rio Grande.

- Time means a different thing to the Spanish than it does to Americans. The clock is certainly not a dictator in Spain, and being (very) late is acceptable. The Spanish mostly eat dinner at 9-10 p.m., and go to bed at p.m. They seem to get by on little sleep, but teenagers crash and sleep late on weekends. Teenagers go to clubs late and often dance and hang out until dawn. Teenagers in Spain are very independent, usually "in the streets", with almost total freedom to go where they want, without reporting or deadlines. They like big parties, big groups. The legal drinking age is 18, but, like most of Europe, does not seem to be enforced in Spain. Young people seldom get drunk and frown on the “drunk American.”


- The Spanish are proud. Miguel Cervantes wrote the first great modern novel. They sent Columbus to America 500 years ago. They are NOT Mexican, do NOT eat spicy foods! They do have a different accent, words and pronunciation than Latin Americans (a bit like English & American). They are cosmopolitan and sophisticated, and can seem a bit arrogant.

- Spanish are also warm and outgoing and fun-loving. Many think Americans could learn much on this score. "Abrazos" (hugs and kisses on meeting or parting) are a way of life.

- Spanish children are often somewhat spoiled by our standards, but seem to quickly learn American ways when they visit the States, because they are also very polite.

- Just as in the U.S., different parts of Spain think and act differently. There is intense historic rivalry between North and South, between Catalan Barcelona and Castilian Madrid in addition to fractious smaller groups. Seventeen varied regions vie for attention and promote their own causes. Talk about ‘regional autonomy’ never disappears.

- James Michener's "Iberia", written years ago, still offers revealing and warm insights into Spain, with fascinating ties to its long and varied history – and its fall from glory centuries ago.

- Spain has taken impressive steps to adapt to the European Union and common market/Euro. The Spanish economy was in deep trouble in the early 90s, but business indicators continue to be positive, with the 2nd highest growth rate in the European Union.

- Spain today builds more cars than Britain, is a world leader in mobile phones. Thirty percent of Spain's businesses are run by women. The mood in the country is more optimistic than in years. Spanish commercial interests have rediscovered Latin America, placing big bets there in reaching out to the world.

- A more dramatic shift in public policy is taking place on social issues and tradition. Over-riding strong Catholic Church opposition, the Spanish parliament has made divorce easier and legalized same-sex marriage. There is controversy, but the direction of public policy seems set.

- Even with all its glorious old architecture (including the extraordinary Sagrada de Familia and the Alhambra) and superb museums, the big tourist news in Spain comes from Bilbao. The old northern port city in Basque country has undergone a re-birth, largely as a result of the new Guggenheim Museum designed by American Frank Gehry. Spain, of course, still serves up its history in visual delights . . . Toledo, Córdoba, Granada, Seville, Santiago de Compostela as well as Madrid & Barcelona.        

Academic Programs Include

Semester, year-long, and short-term (1-3 month) programs are available to Spain. The school year in Spain is September to June. Our Spanish host families live throughout the country. Two years of previous Spanish language study is required. Students may participate in a variety of after-school activities such as sports and music. Tutoring and lessons (ie. Music, dance, sports) are available for additional cost.

Homestay Program Costs Include: school, flight, ground transportation and health and accident insurance. Subject to change based on dollar and flight costs.

Length Cost (in USDs)
4 weeks/no school $3,200
Semester Public


Semester Private
Academic Yr. Publ.
Academic Yr. Publ.

A variety of summer Spanish language programs are available, including a focus on sailing, soccer, fitness and tennis.

Santander Summer 2009 2 and 4 Week Programs

July 11-27 ($3,400) or July 27-August 10 ($5850)


Also available...


United States



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