How Is Spanish School Different?


My school: Colegio Santa María de la Capilla

María Núñez, Writer

Something you see as normal–like taking the bus every morning or having your cell phone in hand every time you need it during school–may be something very strange for people from other countries. I’m from Spain, here this year on an exchange program. Did you know that in my country and others students have different courses every day? Or that instead of starting school in August they start in September?

Due to the high temperatures in Spain during the summer, we start classes in September. Not many American students liked the idea, “I prefer starting in August, the temperature is nice,” Maya Tirpak says. However, some students disagree, like Emmy Schrom: “You have more holidays! I prefer starting in September.”

Something you may also find curious is that we are organized in a way that it is not the students who change classes, it is indeed the teacher who changes. Imagine being able to have your own classroom, being able to decorate it in your own way together with your classmates, being able to be in class with your friends for most of the morning… Plus, you will have your locker in your classroom next to your classmates’, so if you forgot something in the middle of class, you won’t have to go far to go to your locker!

Our schedule is completely different too! It changes a lot depending on which school you are at, but at most schools, you start at 8am and finish at 2:30pm. We have 6 subjects each day of one hour each and a half hour lunch, which is the same for all students, so there are no worries about whether you have the same lunch time as your friends.

Fed up that every day is the same, every day the same subjects? It is not like that in Spain, each day of the week is different. Depending on the importance of the subject, you have more or less time. For example, you would have 4 days a week Mathematics (4 hours) and 2 days of Physical Education (2 hours).

My schedule from last year


As you can see, in Spain 11 subjects are taught per week in 25 hours, while here 7 are taught in 32 hours.

What about after school? Let me tell you that’s pretty different too. Clubs, Friday football games, dances, band… it’s something that we don’t have in Spain. We have other things, for example, instead of dances, we have an informal dinner in the schoolyard with all the school families and teachers. You can bring your friends from other schools too, show them your school and enjoy the night there.

With sports we work differently too, although it varies depending on the school. However, for most of the schools, they have two big sports clubs: soccer and basketball. Some schools have volleyball too.  Another sport we love is handball–a mix of basketball and soccer. And what happens with track and field, swimming, hockey, baseball…? That aren’t usually high school sports, so you usually join clubs outside of the school to play them. Here high school’s sports are such a big thing, strict and important, meanwhile in Spain, high school sports are to have fun and hang out with your friends.

This last month here has been very impressive and confusing at the same time for me, as there are many differences between school in Spain and America. But I’m excited to learn about the culture here and have the opportunity to share my own with you.