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The Experience

Perfect your Spanish and soak in the vibrant culture of daily life in Spain.

Eating churros and drinking hot chocolate at a local café after school. Visiting old historic cities and observing the architecture. Learning to make paella with your host family. Attending classes (in Spanish) at a public instituto or private colegio with local peers. Making friendships that last a lifetime. What kind of memories will you make?

“I've been living in Spain for almost 2 months now, and it's starting to feel like I've been here for much longer. My friends are a huge part of that. I'm constantly amazed at how much they care about me (from deliberately asking me questions about differences in America to offering to lend me long uniform pants for gym class since it's getting cold and I don't have my own pair), and I am so glad I found them. They're making it feel like 5 months is not nearly long enough!”

–Hannah S., CIEE High School Abroad Alumnus

Students on bikes
Navigate a new culture with ease.
Student posing in front of canal
Be inspired. Every day.

“Marta, my host sister, speaks broken English, and she has helped me numerous times when I did not know a word or became confused with other people. We are in the same class at school, which has helped me create numerous friendships. I am a shy person, but she has helped me feel confident among her friends and in the classroom. As a volleyball player, Marta helped me join a team at her club, which has become a source of exercise and new friends. She is hilarious and so kind, partially addicted to her phone, and sometimes a very ‘typical teenager,’ but I am so happy to have her by my side.”

–Lucia H., CIEE High School Abroad Participant


Upon arriving in Spain with your fellow participants, you will be met by CIEE staff in Madrid, where you will begin your three-day orientation. During orientation, you will participate in different workshops focusing on a variety of themes — culture, language, academics, social norms, current events — all designed to best prepare you for your experience in Spain. Additionally, you’ll see some of the best that Madrid has to offer!

Enjoy visiting Chocolatería San Ginés, where you will taste some of the best churros con chocolate you will ever have. Walk through the Buen Retiro Park — Madrid’s version of New York’s Central Park — laugh over incredible food during group meals each evening, and get to know CIEE staff and other participants. After orientation, you will depart for your host community and spend a couple of days with your host family before starting school.

“Each day, Spain has started to feel more like home. My host sister and I have our inside jokes. We started borrowing each other’s clothes, and racing to see who gets to use the bathroom first in the morning. My host brother and I will play football and tease each other, just like I would at home with my siblings. I am given my chores to do and automatically set the table before meals without being asked to do so. Since I am getting to know my host family more, I am noticing little things they like to do each day. For instance, my host dad likes his siesta after work, and my host brother loves arroz con chocolate (chocolate crisped rice) for merienda. I now know who has what each week and who will be home in the evenings. I even got my own keys to the house, which makes me feel very official!!”

–Clare H., CIEE High School Abroad Participant

The Destination

Energetic, romantic, dynamic, historic — Spain offers a world of experiences you’ll never forget.

The story of Spain has been written by its many peoples, from Iberians and Celts to Romans and Moors. Write your own story with CIEE High School Abroad in Spain.

Savor the first bite of traditional paella while dining with your host family. Read “Don Quixote” in the language of Miguel de Cervantes during literature class at the local high school. Practice your Spanish while getting to know your peers in the host community.

Spain offers the perfect setting to study abroad in high school. Rigorous classes, complete Spanish language immersion, and firsthand access to a new and different culture will help you gain the personal, academic, and professional skills needed to be successful in college and beyond.

Narrow alleyway
Discover the real deal.
Cobblestone plaza
Learn history at the source.
Student, in distance, on mountain in front of sea
Take high school to new heights.

The Take-Aways

Language Proficiency

Regardless of your level of proficiency upon entry, you’ll make dramatic strides in your Spanish language skills while immersed in the Spanish high school experience. Return home with remarkably improved oral and written language skills, ready to ace (or even skip) the next level of Spanish in the United States.

Based on ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, CIEE High School Abroad participants improve, on average, two language levels during the course of the program.

The CIEE High School Abroad program provides students more language contact hours in just a few weeks than the average U.S. high school student receives through high school language classes in an entire academic year — 150 hours.*

*Alice Omaggio Hadley’s Teaching Language in Context

Local Transcript

You will receive an official record of classes and grades from your local school in Spain. Credit transfer will vary from school to school, country to country, so please consult with your U.S. school guidance counselor.

Students working on laptop
Immerse yourself in the art and history of Spanish culture.

“Luckily I’m surrounded by understanding and kind people who understand my situation exactly. Every day I’m here, I feel like I understand more of the language and also more of what makes Sevilla such a beautiful and amazing place.”

– Sam F., CIEE High School Abroad Participant

Global Citizenship

After immersing yourself in unfamiliar practices and customs, you’ll become better equipped to interact with people from other cultures — in school, on the job, or in your personal life. In today’s interconnected global economy, intercultural skills have never been more important.

94% of participants said their intercultural understanding and knowledge improved as a result of their participation in the CIEE High School Abroad program, while 93% said their experience made them more aware of global issues.

“I learned things that aren’t taught in schools: what is really important to me, what I want out of life, and how to be more open-minded and confident.”

– Sophie R., CIEE High School Abroad Alumna

Independence & Resilience

Come home better prepared to make transitions, take control of new situations, and appreciate challenging experiences for what they are: opportunities to learn and grow.

90% of participants said their level of independence increased as a result of their participation in the CIEE High School Abroad program.

“Everyone is shocked to hear that I studied abroad when I was 15 years old. I’m shocked myself — yet, quite frankly, I’m shocked that it isn’t more common to study abroad in high school. CIEE gave me an opportunity that most people have never heard of. The program transformed me into the person I am today, with impeccable people skills and the ability to adapt to any environment. I owe a huge thanks to the CIEE program. I am proud to be a CIEE alumnus!”

- Alex A., CIEE High School Abroad Alumnus

College Readiness

Studying abroad gives you the kinds of life skills that can’t be learned in a classroom — and shows college admissions reps that you’re already one step ahead in terms of initiative, maturity, and independence.

79% of participants said their experience with CIEE helped shape their college applications.

“When I applied to study abroad with CIEE, I did so largely because I was eager to improve my Spanish and obtain a deep understanding of Spanish culture. While in Spain, I fully realized the value and importance of immersing yourself while young in a new culture. When I got home, I interned at a Street Vendor advocacy group in New York City, in which I worked as a translator for Spanish-speaking vendors. I still had a deep desire to keep going, to study abroad again and learn about a new language and culture. The following summer, I was accepted to study Arabic in Oman with National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), a Department of State–funded critical language program. Two years later, I received the scholarship again, this time to spend my gap year in Rabat, Morocco. Because of my CIEE experience, I not only became comfortable in a second language and culture, but I gained the confidence and cultural adaptability to seek out further opportunities abroad. After my gap year in Morocco, I will attend Tufts University. I plan to focus on Hispanic and Middle Eastern studies.”

– Isabel R., CIEE High School Abroad Alumna

Passion & Direction

Upon return, you’ll likely have a better sense of what you want to study in college or even pursue as a career.

86% of participants felt their experience with CIEE impacted their educational or career pursuits and goals, while 96% of participants said they regularly use the knowledge and skills they acquired while abroad with CIEE.

“My study abroad experience in Spain not only allowed me to cultivate once-in-a-lifetime friendships, but it also help set the course for my future life goals. Since returning from my exchange, I have decided to pursue a career in international business, with an emphasis in Spanish. Living abroad furthered my desire to meet new people, travel to new places, and experience new cultures. It was an invaluable and unforgettable journey.”

– Erin L., CIEE High School Abroad Alumna

Sample Activities & Excursions

Explore everything Spain has to offer, from bustling cities to picturesque countryside and everything in between.

Wherever you’re placed and wherever you go, every experience is designed to give you an insider’s look into multifaceted Spanish culture and life. What can you do for fun? Attend local festivals, visit sights of cultural and historical importance, and take daytrips to places like Seville, Barcelona, Granada, Bilbao, or Madrid. You’ll have a whole year or semester to discover the country — on your own, with new CIEE friends, and with your host family.

You’ll have exciting opportunities to branch out and see even more of the area with some optional excursions. Examples of destinations include:

Fall Semester

  • Granada (cost included)
    Join CIEE staff and your fellow CIEE High School Abroad in Spain participants as you travel to Granada to tour the Alhambra/ Albayzín region. You’ll marvel at the spectacular medieval architecture and the grandeur of the Alhambra, a massive Moorish castle.
  • Morocco (additional cost) Optional
    Take a step away from Spain to see Tangier and the “Blue City” of Chefchaouen, famous for its many striking blue-washed buildings. A new fixture on must-see lists for its growing tourist industry, Chefchaouen will entice you with its distinctive mosques and unique shopping experiences.

Spring Semester

  • Salamanca (cost included)
    Journey to northwestern Spain to see the ancient Celtic city of Salamanca. Famous for its international student population and historic charm, Salamanca will both educate and entertain you.
  • Lisbon, Portugal (additional cost) Optional
    Venture out to Portugal’s capital and largest city. You’ll fill your Instagram with selfies in front of Lisbon’s famous pastel-colored buildings — between visits to castles, museums, and beaches.
Students posing in Granada
View the splendor of Moorish architecture.
Students on Camels in Morocco
There is much to see and do while you visit Morocco.

In-Country staff

Raquel Burgos

Resident Director

Raquel Burgos is the Director of our High School Abroad program in Spain. Born and raised in Seville, Spain, Raquel started her journey at CIEE as an intern 10 years ago in Portland, Maine. From intern to Study Abroad Enrollment Assistant, Student Services Coordinator in Seville, and Support Coordinator and then Support Manager at the home office in Portland, Raquel has worn many different hats. Through that diverse experience, she has gained the necessary knowledge, language and cultural expertise, management training, and conflict mediation skills to effectively support participants and/or resolve any crisis that might arise. Raquel now lives in Seville with her husband and their son.

Patricia Witzig

Patricia Gayle Witzig is the Program Coordinator based in Madrid. She is originally from Long Island, New York, but has spent the past 20 years in Madrid coordinating study abroad programs and advising students. Patricia holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from SUNY–Binghamton and has completed graduate coursework at the European University in Antwerp, Belgium. She lives in Madrid with her husband and two teenage sons.

Ignacio “Nacho” Rodriguez

Nacho is the program assistant based in Seville. Born and raised in Seville, Nacho started with CIEE in 2010. In his six years at CIEE, he has been part of many different programs. Nacho attended university in Belgium, and is fluent in Spanish, English, and French.

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