Quest Exchange in Spain

Spain is a country full of life and culture, with fantastic flamenco music, dance, bullfights, food, beaches and weather. The country features over 3,000 miles of coastline, including multiple islands, with the largest groups being the Balearic and Canary Islands. A coastal plain surrounds much of the mainland Spanish shoreline, making for countless bays and coves with extensive sandy beaches.

Several regions in Spain have maintained a separate cultural and linguistic identity. But, overall, Spain’s most common language is Spanish and the most common food is the tortilla de patata, or potato omelet. Other gastronomical delicacies include seafood paella, chorizo sausage, gazpacho soup, and tapas. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day, typically consisting of a soup or salad course followed by a main entree and a small dessert.

The tradition of “la siesta” plays into lunchtime, as many Spaniards tend to gather with their extended families for this leisurely meal. Many Spaniards take a siesta (midday break) from work or school to eat lunch and relax, and some businesses close down for a few hours each afternoon. The exact origins of the siesta are unknown, but Spanish people have embraced this custom for many centuries, partly as a way to avoid the midday heat and partly as a cultural tradition designed to slow down the pace of life and to unite the family. Some of the people living and working in major cities, such as Madrid and Barcelona, no longer take siestas, but the custom still remains prominent in provincial areas.

Come study the second most popular language in the world while living in a vibrant culture filled with rich history, art and architecture!

3 Fun Facts
  • The Spanish love to chill out. On average, they devote 16 out of every 24 hours to leisure, eating, drinking and sleeping.
  • Like fresh pressed olive oil? Spain produces about half of the world’s olive oil supply.
  • Spain was one of the first European countries to ban smoking in workplaces and bars back in 2006.
2018-2019 Program Pricing

Year

Early Sept  – Late June
$12,000

Semester

Early Sept – Late Dec
Late Jan – Late June
$9,500

Short-Term

Various
3 Months: $9,000
2 Months: $8,000
1 Month: $7,000

School Life

The Spanish school year runs from early September through late June, with Fall semester running from early September through late December and Spring semester running from late January through late June. Students are usually in the same classroom all day; it is the teachers who move around from classroom to classroom. Students have 6 classes per day, each lasting about 55 minutes. School hours vary depending on the area and type of school. One schedule might be classes from 9 am – 5 pm with a two-hour lunch break, where students would go home to spend time with their host family. Another school schedule might be classes from 9 am – 2 pm with no lunch break, but several shorter breaks in between classes. School activities include sports, gymnastics, music, drawing and crafts. They are part of the Spanish educational curriculum and depend on the class the students are placed in. Teachers often have a comfortable relationship with students, but academic boundaries are still maintained.

Family Life

Host families usually consist of two parents and 1-4 children of different ages. It is becoming more popular for empty-nesters to host, so a host family may be parents whose children no longer live at home. During the weekdays, students usually go home for a warm lunch. Food is very important in Spain and families are excited to have students try some of the specialties of the region. Breakfast usually consists of coffee and a roll. Many shops still close for the midday meal and the afternoon siesta. The Spanish eating schedule is quite late compared to many other countries, with lunch served normally from 2–3 pm and dinner from 9–10 pm. On the weekends, the students normally spend time with the host family and their relatives or with friends.

Program Extras

There is a 2-day arrival orientation in Barcelona each semester and at the beginning of year-long programs that is obligatory. The cost for this orientation is included in Quest program fees.

Regional guarantees in the following areas are available for approximately $250 Barcelona area (outside of the city), Eastern Spain (in the states of Murcia or Valencia), Southern Spain (in the state of Andalucía), Central Spain (placed in the states of Castilla, Madrid and Aragon).

City guarantees are available for Barcelona, Valencia, Zaragoza, Madrid, Cádiz, Seville, Alicante, Murcia, and Pontevedra. Students should make two choices in case the first choice option is full. The cost for the city guarantee is $1,650/year, $1050/semester, $800/trimester, and $600/2 months.

There are four optional trips annually that students may choose to participate in. The destinations are usually Malaga, Madrid, Valencia, and Seville. Details of these trips are announced during the year.

Students with severe non-pet allergies, celiac disease, lactose intolerance or vegans will be charged an extra $120/month, which will be provided directly to the host family to offset speciality food accommodation.

Students may be placed in public schools; however, it is strongly recommended that students attend a semi-private or private school instead. The reason for this is two-fold. First, private schools provide acceptance documentation more quickly due to governmental regulations, which means that families will receive the necessary paperwork for the visa application much earlier. This will make the process of obtaining a Spanish visa easier and faster. Second, private schools often provide better support for American students. Tuition for semi-private to private schools ranges widely between $60-$700/month extra. As this amount is not included in Quest program fees, this option will be discussed with the student and parents at the time of application.

Program Requirements

Students are not required to have formal Spanish language experience, but should have at least a beginning level by arrival to Spain. Students should also be aware that even though there is no formal language requirement for this program, school, host family and daily life will all be conducted in Spanish.

VISAS

For stays over 90 days, students will need a visa. Students and parents should research visa requirements through the Spanish consulate or embassy nearest to their home as soon as possible, as this is the most time-intensive component of the study abroad application process. It usually takes between two to five weeks to obtain a Spanish visa. As the details of this process vary greatly by location, neither Quest nor our Spanish partner office can confirm the exact requirements. For this reason, Quest is not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application.

Will students have access to Internet/WiFi at their home and school?

The vast majority of host families will have WiFi or an Internet connection at home. Schools may or may not have Internet connection; cell phone use is prohibited during class.

Can students bring their own cell phones?

Yes, if students have an unlocked cell phone, they could use their personal phone with a Spanish carrier/SIM card.

Can students travel without an adult chaperone if given permission?

Students cannot travel outside of the host area without adult supervision. Travel outside of the host area with adult supervision is authorized if pre-approved by the natural parents, host family, local partner office and Quest.

How much money should students have for spending money?

Students should budget around $150-$250/month for personal expenses, which include entertainment, personal hygiene items, long-distance calls, etc. Additional money should be budgeted for start-up school expenses, such as books and supplies. These fees are in addition to Quest program fees.

What are some cultural norms that describe a typical host family in your country?

In Spanish families, it is really important to communicate, be affectionate with others, participate and enjoy chatting with family members. Mealtime is an important time for talking and visiting. Many times, life happens in the kitchen, dining room and living room. So, students should be prepared to spend time with the family rather than alone in their bedroom.

How are host families chosen?

Quest’s in-country partner is responsible for locating, screening and matching host families with our students. Host families go through a careful screening process, which typically involves in-person interviews, home inspections and references.

How do students apply for the visa and how long does it take?

For stays over 90 days, students will need a visa. Students and parents should research visa requirements through the Spanish consulate or embassy nearest to their home as soon as possible, as this is the most time-intensive component of the study abroad application process. It usually takes between two to five weeks to obtain a Spanish visa. As the details of this process vary greatly by location, neither Quest nor our Spanish partner office can confirm the exact requirements. For this reason, Quest is not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application.

How will the student get to and from school?

Students will generally walk or take public transportation (bus, subway, train) to school. Costs for public transit range from $45-$85/month. Transportation fees are the student’s responsibility and are not included in Quest program fees.

Is it possible for students to get tutors during their program?

Yes, tutors are available and prices vary based on the subject and duration of tutoring sessions. The cost ranges from $20-$35/hour.

Can students receive an official document with grades and completed classes after finishing their program? 

Yes, exchange students in Spain can receive official documentation, including grades, but only if they are able to complete all assignments and exams in Spanish. Otherwise, schools will give students a certificate stating that they have attended classes and completed the corresponding duration of time studying in Spain. In order to receive either of these documents, students must proactively seek them out. Obtaining this documentation is the student’s responsibility before s/he leaves Spain.

Do schools offer different sports/activities? 

Spanish schools focus only on academics. This means that students do their activities and hobbies outside of school at gyms, clubs or centers.

THINK IT OVER

The rewards of life abroad are amazing and wonderful, but are you up for the unique challenges that come with this experience? You will be away from your friends, family and the lifestyle you are accustomed to. You will have to adapt to a new language, culture, school and family. You will have to make decisions on your own and make new friends. Think about it and do some research on the country you want to study in. There is a wealth of information on the Internet that can better prepare you for your adventure!

GET YOUR PARENT/LEGAL GUARDIAN ON BOARD

Your parent(s) or guardian(s) need to help you make your dream happen. The application process takes time and effort, so it is important, at this stage, to make sure your parents support your decision to study abroad and have given you approval to move forward. If they feel that you are prepared and understand what’s required from them, you are ready to move to the next step.

CHECK IN WITH YOUR SCHOOL

You may receive credit from your program, but it is your responsibility to make this happen. Only your U.S. school can decide which credits you can receive. You must approach your guidance counselor to determine if you can get the credits you are hoping to receive. Bring Quest’s Academic Guide with you, and be certain of what you will be responsible for.

CONTACT QUEST FOR PROGRAM INFORMATION AND PAPERWORK

Fill out our online information request form in order to receive important program information from Quest via email. This email will contain Quest’s Program Agreement and Program Guidelines for your review and signature. Carefully review all of this information with your parents and contact Quest if you have any questions. We are here to help guide you through the process so you can make decisions that fit your needs.

CONFIRM PROGRAM DETAILS

The Quest Program Coordinator will confirm with you the program details submitted on your original request form. If you’re unsure of your destination, we’ll help you narrow down your choices to the country and program season that works for you. We will speak with your parents and make sure that everybody feels informed and ready to proceed with the decisions made.

CONFIRM PAYMENT DETAILS

You and your parents will receive the online Payment Agreement, which states the total program price for your selected destination country and Quest’s payment process. Your parents will receive an invoice for the application deposit, which is due before you submit your student application.

COMPLETE YOUR APPLICATION

Quest will send you a full student application for the program you have chosen. This application can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete. Make sure you give yourself ample time prior to the application deadline to complete the application and supplemental documents.

SKYPE INTERVIEW

This is when you get to meet your Quest Program Coordinator and talk face to (virtual) face. During the interview, the Program Coordinator will assess your suitability for the Quest Study Abroad program. This call lasts 30-60 minutes. Parents will speak with us at the end of the call, but the first part of the interview questions must be answered by the student alone. There is no preparation needed other than to talk about yourself, your desire to participate in the program and why you feel you are ready.

WAITING FOR ACCEPTANCE

Your Quest Program Coordinator will review your application and interview documentation to determine acceptance. Our team members put a lot of thought into the decisions they make, and not all students are accepted into the program. In order to make our decision, Quest must review complete and accurate application materials. We choose students who are emotionally, socially and academically prepared for the study abroad program. We look at each student’s level of maturity, independence and ability to adapt to life in a foreign country.

ACCEPTANCE AND INVOICE

You will receive a letter of acceptance from Quest via email. Your parents will receive an invoice outlining the total cost with only the first 50% of the total due within 10 days. The final 50% of the remaining program fees are due within 30 days of the invoice date.

GET LEGAL – VISA AND IMMIGRATION

This is a very important step in the process and can be very time-intensive. We suggest that you get started researching the requirements as soon as possible with the nearest embassy or consulate for your destination country, as requirements vary by location. Because the process does vary considerably, Quest and our foreign partner office are not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application. Start filling out all of the paperwork well in advance, as visa approval can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to obtain.

SCHOOL AND HOST FAMILY PLACEMENT

This is the hardest part: waiting for your school and host family placement information! Making quality placements takes time, and we will need your patience during this important step. Quest will notify you and your parents of a confirmed placement in a school and then again when you are placed with your host family. Write to your host family as soon as possible to introduce yourself, and let them know how excited you are to meet them.

BOOK YOUR FLIGHT

Working together with you and your parents, Quest will confirm your arrival date and book your roundtrip international flight to your placement area. We will also book your student travel and medical insurance for your trip, so you can rest easier while abroad!

PRE-DEPARTURE ORIENTATION

Your Quest Program Coordinator will help you get prepped for your trip with a pre-departure orientation prior to your departure. You’ll receive an agenda before the call. We encourage you to write all of your remaining questions down so that we can make you and your parents feel prepared for your trip abroad. We will go over the program rules, what to pack, what to do if you need support once you arrive, and more!

LIVE YOUR STUDY ABROAD DREAM!

Congratulate yourself and your family for making this happen. You are on your way to the study abroad adventure that you’ve earned!

Balance your time abroad — keep in touch with those back home, but remember that the point of studying abroad is to be present and active in your host country. Keep a blog or an online photo album so you can show all of the revelations you have had and the sights you have seen. On a rainy day, you’ll be happy to reflect on your growing experience abroad. Stay in touch with Local Coordinators and with Quest. We’d love to hear how you are doing!

Programs Available
  • Year
  • Semester
  • Trimester
  • 2 Months
  • 1 Month
Application Deadline
  • Year/Fall Semester: April 1st
  • Spring Semester: October 1st
  • Short-Term: Variable

Quest International, a nonprofit organization, promoting international cultural awareness and compassion by providing educational programs for American and International students to live and learn together.