What is it like to be a teenager in Spain?

How can you prepare to host a student from Spain? Take a whirlwind tour of Spanish culture from the perspective of a teenager. If you know where your student is coming from, it will be easier to mainstream this new family member into your home.

Let's start where it all begins...


family sitting on sofa together with parents grandparents and children

Most Spanish teenagers are used to spending a lot of time with both nuclear and extended family. This means your student will most likely appreciate family time in your home too.


mediterranean foods like fish meat veggies fruits and nuts

Spaniards (even teenagers) tend to be very proud of their cuisine. And they love to highlight the benefits of their world-famous Mediterranean Diet. You might be surprised how much your student enjoys healthy foods like fresh vegetables and fruits.


family eating meal together with fresh veggies and wine

In Spain, most people sit down at a table to eat balanced meals together with family, friends or classmates at least once or twice a day. Many teens are not used to eating lunch or dinner alone.


hand of a man adding ingredient to fry pan

Some Spanish teenagers know how to cook. Most do not. It's helpful to designate the first week in your home as "training week" to teach your student how to do breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in your home.


putting a glass into the dishwasher

Typical chores for teenagers in Spain tend to be very light tasks like setting the table, cleaning the kitchen together after a meal, taking out the garbage or making their bed. Spanish parents use academics to teach responsibility.


smiling teenage boy pointing at math on blackboard

High school in Spain is all about academics - and memorization. School is generally not about sports, extracurricular activities, clubs or dances. Going to school is like going to work each day.

Exams and Homework

looking down on teenage girl studying

Spanish teenagers have grown up learning to focus all their efforts on passing exams. They can be shocked to discover how important homework and class participation are in the USA. These are great topics to discuss when school begins.


teenagers playing soccer

Sports do not generally revolve around schools in Spain. Teenagers who want to play soccer, basketball, tennis or other sports often look to their municipality where they might also find martial arts, swimming and many other activities. 


world flags with headphones and a notepad

Students across Spain learn English at school, and possibly a third language as well. Your student might also go to a language academy after school to learn additional languages or take their English, French or German to the next level.

Spending Money

man holding wallet and fifty euros

It is not common for Spanish teenagers to have a job or even do odd jobs. School is like a highly demanding, full-time job. Parents tend to provide spending money as needed so their teen can take a well-deserved break from studying to have some fun with friends.


smiling teenage girl waiting for subway

The vast majority of teenagers in Spain either walk or use public transportation to get around. They tend to have a lot of freedom to come and go as they please. In the USA they need help learning how to find rides and organize carpools.


teenagers smiling and hugging each other

It's normal for Spanish teenagers to be surrounded by a tight-knit group of friends they have known since they were in preschool. Close bonds are reinforced at school where, year after year, they spend all day, every day, in the same classroom with the same group of students.


teenagers dancing at night

Spain is famous for its nightlife. People of all ages enjoy getting out of their apartments and into the streets to walk around in the evenings, often late into the night, meeting up with family and friends to eat, drink and enjoy life. Is it any surprise that Spanish teenagers also go out at night?


looking at watchCurfews for teenagers in Spain can be very (very) late by American standards. On weekends and in the summer many young people stay out way past midnight. This is simply part of the culture. In the USA they get to learn a very different lifestyle.


hourglass with clock in background

People in Spain value punctuality. However, they tend to be understanding and easygoing when someone arrives five, ten or even fifteen minutes "late". Some teenagers bring this more relaxed approach with them to the USA where they quickly learn the importance of being "on time".


people using mobile phones

Like teenagers in so many other countries, Spanish teens love their phones. They've learned the etiquette in Spain, and particularly in their own family. In the USA they will benefit when you provide clear guidelines and expectations for using their phone appropriately.


compass with the word guidelines

Instead of strict rules, most Spanish parents instill a set of values and guidelines in their children. Most teenagers from Spain are well prepared to make good choices during their year abroad. However, they still need you to clearly map out your rules (in writing and posted on the fridge during the first weeks).


spanish kings cake

Spain has 12 bank holidays per year. Christmas and Easter are especially big. Your student should have plenty of Christmas traditions to share with your family. Easter is often a time to travel.


teenager in front of the colliseum of rome

Don't be surprised if your student is well-travelled. Travel is a favorite past-time for many Spanish families. Some stick to Spain (the second most visited country in the world). Many travel around Europe. And plenty of families see the entire world as their oyster. 

Study Abroad

teenager with yellow backpack walking through airport

The US Youth Exchange program is famous in Spain. Many teenagers dream of participating; many parents hope they can make it happen. They are excited to learn more about American culture, bond with an authentic American family, boost their English skills and so much more.

Congratulations! You are about to become the proud host parent of your very own teenager from Spain. This post is designed to spark your curiosity and inspire fascinating conversations with this newest member of your family.

Happy hosting!



Tags: Cultural Exchange

Subscribe to Our Blog Today!