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Ten Elements that Make A Study Abroad Program Amazing

If you're going to Spain, you owe it to yourself to come back with some great memories and new friends. The most important parts of planning are choosing a program and choosing a city. After you've thought about how long to stay and what to look for, make sure that your program has the following ten features and you'll have a wonderful time.

  1. A critical mass of students -- Twenty or more is best, and there's nothing wrong with a school of 60. It's also best if a good number of these students are not living with families so that they'll have plenty of time to hang out.
  2. Young fellow students -- Make sure that the school attracts adventurous young people to spice up the nights. There's nothing wrong with an older set, but a healthy group of twenty-somethings will liven the atmosphere.
  3. Multi-national students -- Other Europeans will introduce you to the side of Europe you've always wanted to experience, and much more.
  4. A few key local members of the community -- Be they teachers or host families, every program needs a few locals who are in touch with their city's social scene.
  5. A great program director -- Your program director should want you to experience the culture of Spain and should take an active role in connecting students with each other and the greater community.
  6. A bar or café -- If the students have a particular hang-out spot in town that everyone goes to, that's a great sign that there is a strong community centered around the school.
  7. Student housing in a fun part of town -- Where you live will dictate what you do, so make sure that you're living near the beach, the nightlife or whatever it is that you're excited about experiencing. Avoid suburbs or private residential communities if you can help it, no matter how "nice" the school tells you they are.
  8. School-sponsored weekend trips -- A weekend trip with your classmates never fails to promote both bonding and debauchery. Going to visit nearby areas with a group is always more fun than solo adventures.
  9. A proper banquet -- A fun school will organize some sort of dinner for the students, which is a great way to figure out what Spanish food is worth eating regularly (like the cured ham!).
  10. The weather -- If it's too hot, humid, cloudy, or cold, the Spaniards just won't be as active, or they'll be off vacationing in some more pleasant part of the country. Make sure you go when it's pleasant to enjoy the culture at its peak. Seasons vary slightly by city, but spring is always your best bet.

If you haven't picked a city yet, start reading through our city guide.

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Why Spain is a Great Place to Learn Spanish -- All the reasons you need to go to Spain to learn Spanish.

Comparison Analysis: Studying Abroad in Spain Versus Latin America -- Specific reasons to choose to learn Spanish in Spain, Mexico, Central America and South America.

How to Choose a Study Abroad Program in Spain -- A practical guide to choosing a program from the many that are available to American students.

Types of Housing in Study-Abroad Programs in Spain -- Make the best choice about home-stays, apartments, and hostels in Spain.

Planning Travel After Your Study-Abroad Program -- Make sure that you leave some time to travel after you've mastered the language.

Spain is Best Enjoyed in the Company of a Hottie -- Our hot new guide to finding love, romance, flings and fun while you're in Spain.

The Guide to Spanish Cities for Study Abroad Students -- The essential guide to choosing the right city for your study-abroad adventure.

Map of Spain -- A map of Spain with key cities for study-abroad students.

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