Here are ten very good reasons why:
1. Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, with 410 million speakers.
It is an incredibly useful language to learn, and picking it up in Spain is a springboard into Hispanic culture. The Spanish are delighted when you make an effort to speak the language, and will give you praise, encouragement and an enthusiastic response, even if you make mistakes. Having a good level of Spanish will make you more attractive to future employers, open your mind to another culture and way of life, and open doors to employment and adventure.
2.There are lots of great opportunities to work and study.
Spain has excellent language schools, sports academies and clubs, choirs, orchestras, independent startups and opportunities for millenials. If you have a skill, the passion and enthusiasm for what you do will carry you a long way, and make you loads of friends and contacts.
3. The people are known for being welcoming, friendly, and family orientated.
Spaniards are always pleased when they discover that you have chosen to come to Spain, and will give you lots of opportunities to practise your new language skills, as they are often very inquisitive. “I would sooner be a foreigner in Spain than in most countries. How easy it is to make friends in Spain”, said George Orwell, and we know he was right about lots of things. If you are lucky enough to stay with a Spanish family, you’ll soon find out that they’ll out-mum even your mum!
4. It’s a really cheap place to be a student
Rent and food are good value. In a list of 100 European cities, the cost of living in Spanish cities is low according to Expatistan (Barcelona 36, Madrid 47, Bilbao 55, Valencia 58, Malaga 64, Seville 65) over London number 4 and Bristol, number 16. A small beer will still only set you back €1-€2 in the back streets, eating out is cheap, and in a few cities, it’s actually free, as tapas are served at no extra charge with drinks!
5. It has the highest number of public non working holidays per year of any European country.
The Spanish even have a word for an extended long weekend (‘puente’ , a bridge) which runs into another public holiday in the following week: it’s called an ‘‘acueducto”, literally, an aqueduct. It’s a great place to work, because you get more holiday.
6. Diversity within one nation
The regions of Spain offer something for everyone; the languages (5 of them!); the climate, from arid desert and breathtaking beaches in the South, the sunny Mediterranean, the windy Atlantic, the paradise islands of the Balearics and the Canaries, the green mountains of Asturias and the Pyrenees, and cooler weather with great waves on the Northern coasts. There are bustling cities, towns steeped in culture, and sleepy villages. With so much variety on offer, you’re bound to find somewhere that’s perfect for your year abroad.
7. Something for everyone
The arts, culture; music, sport; the Spanish are fanatical about all of these; there is so much more than flamenco and football to Spanish leisure time. You’ll be able to find others who have embraced the things you love, from windsurfing to street art, from hillwalking to horticulture. Spending time with people who share your passions and interests is the best way to improve your language skills, and will build you a group of ready made friends.
8. Bizarre and fabulous cultural experiences are part of everyday life
Seville's April Fair is something to dress up for. Photo: AFP
Each town and village has its own, and they are as rich and as varied as the country itself. From herds of sheep parading through Madrid to men leaping over babies, each festival has fascinating and strange origins that will give you a window into Spain’s soul.
9. Spain is one of the most tolerant and accepting countries in the world
Spain has a more open attitude towards migration, the role of the EU, homosexuality and different family structures. In short, it’s a great place to just be yourself!
10. You’ll never be short of visitors from home
Everyone will want to come and visit, and with so many low cost flights into Spain, it’s easy for them to do so. You’ll have a great time showing friends and family the hidden side of this rich and varied country and its culture, and your parents will see that a Gap Year is a really worthwhile investment in your future career and independence.
If you’re considering a Gap Year to improve your Spanish, have an amazing time, and ensure your CV stands out from the crowd, just get in touch with Emily at The Language Gap.
She has a wealth of knowledge and experience, and local contacts worldwide to take the stress and uncertainty out of planning your time abroad, initial consultations are free.