Spain by Train Program
A once in a lifetime, 12 week adventure exploring Spain by train from North to South and East to West.
Fall 2023: Sep 2nd – Nov 25th
Spring 2024: Mar 2nd – May 25th
The adventure of a lifetime awaits you in Spain
Spain by Train is a semester-long program where you will be immersed in real Spanish culture while you learn Spanish. You'll experience the country and its people from up close: through our landscapes, local food, many exciting outdoor activities and shared cultural experiences with native Spaniards.
Our upcoming programs:
September 2nd - November 25th
March 2nd - May 25th
Click to explore our locations!
Our itinerary is the same both in the spring and in the fall, but we switch the order: we like to avoid extreme weather conditions, so the spring program starts in the South of Spain (where we are more likely to get blue skies in March) and the fall program starts in the North (where the weather gets chillier the closer we get to winter).
The program is divided in three bases and three trips: Vitoria, Salamanca and Granada will be your homes for a longer period of time, while you will spend just over a week in the Camino, Madrid and Barcelona. We have chosen these places to give you as broad a taste of Spain as possible, without having you on the go all the time. You will spend quality time in each place, having the opportunity to really get to know the “base” cities and making local friends, while also learning to navigate the bigger cities and enjoying the more remote locations.
You will spend 9 out of the 12 weeks on homestay, living with a Spanish host family and being immersed in the Spanish language, their family routine, partaking in house chores, cooking and learning about their way of living. Homestays only happen in base-cities (Granada, Salamanca and Vitoria). You can choose to share your homestay or be the only gapper in the family.
During the trips to Madrid, the Camino and Barcelona, you will stay in beautiful hostels where you will share rooms with your peers, learn to budget, shop, cook and negotiate chores together. All the hostels have common areas where you can relax and find time out for yourself.
Take a walk with us through our hostels.
You can expect to experience different types of trains in the different regions. We will take high speed trains that cover 680km in 5 hours and single track trains that cover 190km in 5 hours. Our national railway network takes us through beautiful landscapes, but it is not the most reliable in the world: trains to and from the capital (Madrid) are frequent, tend to be comfortable and on time.
Trains that connect other parts of the country are slower, not always on time, way less fancy and require plenty of patience and adaptability: if there is a cow on the tracks, we may miss the next train. It will be a longer day, but there will be an alternative solution and it will allow you to read, journal and do life at a slower pace for a few hours.
A week in the life of our gappers
We keep you busy six days a week, for about six hours a day: typically, you come in for an activity from 9:30am/10am to 12:30pm/1pm, you go home for lunch and siesta and come back for an afternoon activity from 4:30pm/5pm to 7:30pm/8pm.
We have also built in plenty of free time, so you can explore solo, socialize or rest and re-charge. You are free between lunch and the afternoon activity and you are free again from after dinner until curfew. You get a half day off on a Wednesday (leaving you free from 1pm) and a full day off on a Sunday. Our schedule changes slightly depending on what day we travel from one location to the next. You can see samples of our schedules here:
You don't need any Spanish to join our program: we welcome beginners, intermediates and advanced/ proficient speakers. Our language teaching style is experiential and CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning). We aim to show you Spain at a deeper level, from a different perspective. Therefore, you will take part in projects, workshops and activities to learn about different aspects of Spanish culture and language. These are some examples:
Food and Cooking
You will do a weekly cooking class or activity from the start to the end of the program. This means that you will learn up to 40 regional Spanish recipes, as well as gaining general cooking skills that will be very useful for healthy eating when you live independently (whether you are going to college after your gap year, working or pursuing further education).
History and Politics
We look at Spain from ancient history to current affairs, through the lens of the three religions of Toledo (Islam, Judaism and Catholicism) to today's secular state. We watch and read the news in different media to analyze and debate about the issues that affect our society today, from a local, national and global perspective.
Art in all its forms
We both observe and do art. We go to the theater and we do theater workshops, we go to modern and classical art museums and we do artistic expression workshops, we go to concerts and attend music and dance workshops. Architecture is a big part of our program, as we get to visit Moorish palaces, Gothic cathedrals, Neo Classical and Modernist buildings, to name a few.
Sport, Health and Nature
Setting healthy habits is something we do from day one, by helping you find a new on-program routine. We will show you the parks, gyms and sports facilities so you can stay fit throughout. You will be spending some time in nature every week, with a special focus on outdoor sports during the week in the Camino - you´ll be surfing, canyoning, hiking and cycling - but worry not: we cater for all levels, so you don't need any previous experience. The same goes for the sport exchanges we participate in: sometimes we play rugby, soccer or basketball with local teams, to introduce you to potential native friends through an exciting shared experience.
Sustainability and Economy
We partner with local environmental organizations to learn about the situation of the region and help reforest areas by planting native trees and adopting them as a legacy project, compensating for the carbon footprint of our flights. Our goal is to become carbon neutral and eventually carbon negative. Our program is aligned with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, therefore we look around us in a global way, exploring sustainability from different angles. For example, we visit different small businesses and organizations to observe their inspirational way of living, learn about their journey and experience a snippet of their day to day: we go to farms, animal sanctuaries, social projects etc.
Last but not least, your homestay. You will be in Spain, the perfect context to learn Spanish, and through your homestay you will have the opportunity to be fully immersed in the language and the culture. Our hosts welcome gappers as part of the family and you are encouraged to take part in the family routine (help with chores, cook with the family, do free time activities together, ask them about what they are watching in the news etc).
Typically, the sessions are 3 hours long and consist of a 30 minute introduction to the language you are going to use during the activity, a 2 hour experience (e.g. cooking class) and a 30 minute reflection, where you will discuss the new vocabulary that came up during the class, ask any questions about the content itself or perhaps a grammar-related matter and take notes in your journal.
Salamanca and Granada are special locations where you get to choose what way you would like to learn. We partner with local Spanish schools there, where you can choose to stay with the experiential learning style or join their level-specific groups. For those interested in progressing fast or preparing for official Spanish exams (SIELE/DELE), you can join their intensive Spanish courses, where you will learn with people from different backgrounds and from all around the world. In this case, you would take 4 hours of classes per day and they don't interfere with our afternoon activity schedule, so you would only be missing the morning workshops.
For native Spanish speakers who want to train as Spanish teachers, we can provide that training in Granada and Salamanca as well.
Whether you choose to learn experientially or join an intensive course in Granada and Salamanca, you can earn between 5 and 8 college credits at no extra cost (the amount of credit depends on how many daily hours of Spanish you are taking: 3 hours per day or 4 hours per day).
Spanish Gap Year
We take a maximum of 12 participants per group. However, we accept up to 24 gappers per cohort (we call our participants “gappers”, in case you see that word on our social media channels or you hear it during our calls). That means that, if there are 24 people coming, we will have two groups of 12 (divided by Spanish proficiency level as much as possible, so everyone can make the most of their language learning). Most of our gappers come from English speaking countries, but we welcome people from all over the world! Moreover, when we are in Vitoria, Salamanca and Granada we organize exchanges and invite locals to some activities, so you can meet native people your age.
You can read our criteria via the link below, but to summarize:
On Wednesday (your half day off) we ask you to login for a private 20 min online call with your program leader. This happens weekly in the first month and bi-weekly thereafter. These one-on-one meetings are dedicated to help you settle in and follow up, to check in and see how you are doing personally and as part of the group.
For emergencies: our team is bilingual English/Spanish to assist you with any situation that may arise (medical or other). You will always have a 24/7 contact to call if you need help.
Our Spain By Train program fee is €17,400. This includes:
Your Application Timeline
Once you have had an online meeting with us, here is the timeline to expect if you move forward with your application.
Come join our adventure!
Ready to find out more? Book a chat with us today!
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