Bullfighting and flamenco cannot even begin to sum up Spain’s cultural character. The country has four languages, seven dialects and 17 autonomías (political regions), each with its own government, budget and ministries of culture.
In fact, Spaniards are often more closely associated with the cultural traditions, political affairs, lifestyle, and cuisine of their region than they are with the more general Spanish traditions. Spanish nature is as varied as the Spanish people – from the cloud-covered Pyrenees in the north, to the Andalusian deserts and lavish beaches in the south. According to countryaah, Spain is a country located in Southern Europe.
Spaniards are often proud, dignified and generous, and they thrive in crowds, whether it be for festivals, strolling on plazas or in energetic cheers at a football stadium.
- CAPITAL CITY: Madrid (see other major cities in Spain by population on allcitypopulation)
- LANGUAGE: Spanish
- CURRENCY: Euro (EUR)
- AREA: 505,990 km2
- POPULATION: 46,423,064 (2015 estimate)
People and community
You will probably be living in a small urban or suburban area, maybe even in the Canary Islands or Balearic Islands. Many families eat both breakfast and dinner together. You will probably experience the tradition with long, multi-course menus, and you will certainly also experience siesta in the middle of the day. There you have the opportunity to go home for lunch and enjoy a little nap. Families often visit each other, and weekends often feature family gatherings.
You will probably need to attend a public school that has a variety of subjects, such as Spanish language, literature, and sports subjects. The school week runs from Monday to Friday from kl. 08:00 to 15:00. Some afternoons, however, the days may be a little longer. It is very common for students to address their teacher by first name.
Spain actually has five official languages: Aranese, Catalan, Galician, Basque and Spanish. As Spain is a multilingual nation, 70% of our exchange students live in bilingual societies where Spanish is not the primary language – neither at school nor with the host family. However, Spanish language instruction is compulsory in all schools and many are bilingual, so you will still have the opportunity to improve your Spanish. AFS offers Rosetta Stone Spanish course to prepare you for your exchange.
Although each region of Spain has its own specialty, Spanish cuisine is generally Mediterranean-inspired and includes plenty of olive oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes and peppers. Lunch is the most important meal of the day and is served around 14:00 or 15:00, while dinner can start as late as 21:00, where most family members have the opportunity to be together. Plenty of seafood is eaten, but red meat and pork are also eaten almost every day. By eating the traditional Spanish tapas, you can try many different types of food. Do not miss the paella (rice with vegetables and seafood) and gazpacho (a cold tomato soup).