When studying abroad in Spain, the best way to immerse yourself in the culture is to start with understanding the language. However, learning Spanish in Spain is much more than learning a language spoken by over 400 million people worldwide; it's art and monuments, savoring its cuisine, living its festivities and traditions. In short, it’s a once-in-a-life-time experience through which you’ll discover an exciting country.
According to the Institute of International Education, Spain remains the top three most popular study abroad destinations among Americans and it’s no coincidence that every one of them loves it. Spain puts its geographical diversity, its cultural and tourist resources within reach so you can learn one of the world’s most important languages easily, and have fun while doing it! Spaniards’ lively, open nature will help you immerse yourself in Spanish culture and make friends easily.
The capital of Spain, Madrid, is a cosmopolitan city that combines a large cultural and artistic heritage. The impressive Plaza Mayor (Main Square) remains one of Spain's most popular and typical spots along with the stunning 17th century Royal Palace. Art aficionados will find over 70 museums, the most important (within ten minutes from each other) being the:
- Prado Museum
- Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
- Reina Sofía National Art Centre
However, Spain’s capital is not just about serious artistic pursuits. You can also sample a wide variety of the finest Spanish and international cuisine or be enchanted by its bars and taverns. East of Madrid, there’s Alcalá de Henares, a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, birthplace of the illustrious Miguel de Cervantes, author of “Don Quixote”, and home to one of the most prestigious universities in Spain ideal place to learn Spanish.
Come to the region of Castilla y León to discover its rich monumental heritage, formed by churches, convents, palaces, castles, squares and university buildings. You can’t miss three of the World Heritage cities of Ávila, Salamanca and Segovia. The famous Way of Saint James runs through this region, and is one of the world's most important pilgrim routes. Castilla y León is also a favorite destination to learn Spanish
*Salamanca’s university tradition dates back eight centuries and along with Valladolid, Segovia, Burgos you can find a wide array of courses, ideal for different levels and requirements.
Another great place to take in the Spanish language is the coastal city of Valencia, which combines tradition with innovation and has always been known for its gastronomy. Not to mention, it is the birthplace of paella. Valencia is also the scene of the spectacular Fallas midsummer bonfire festival, declared a Festivity of International Tourist Interest. Calatrava’s futuristic City of Arts and Sciences and its new Bioparc are also welcoming visitors.
Andalusia, the birthplace of flamenco, tapas and sherry is a land of contrasts, mild temperatures, long golden beaches, craggy mountains and vast plains, where the cities such as Córdoba, Sevilla, Málaga -home to the Picasso Museum- and Granada boast historically rich monuments. The flamenco music and dance is a passionate artistic expression of the most deeply rooted Andalusian culture.
If you have not yet decided on your favorite place to study Spanish in Spain just make a selection of the World Heritage Cities by UNESCO which offer Spanish courses: Alcalá de Henares, Cáceres, Córdoba, Cuenca, Mérida Salamanca, Santiago de Compostela, Segovia, Toledo, all cities in which art, culture and history melt together to impress the student.
Visit www.spain.info and www.studyinspain.info for more information. To learn more about the history of Castilian language, check out our travel guide covering the route of the language.
Image 1: Traditional dance with the Sagrada Familia on the background.
Image 2: Mezquita de Córdoba