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International Programs

Semester in Valencia

Institute of Spanish Studies

Why the ISS?

The Institute was established in 1950 with the Universities of San Francisco and Valencia and became independent in 1985. In addition to regular classes, the program offers many cultural activities and direct contact with Spanish people, making the experience ideal for a true cultural and linguistic immersion experience.

Why Valencia?

  • With almost 1 million inhabitants, Valencia is the perfect size for a study abroad experience: not too big not too small.
  • It is the third largest city in Spain, offering many cultural and social activities to enjoy.
  • Valencia's Mediterranean weather means mild, sunny winders, and warm summers to enjoy the beach.
  • Location: Valencia is well-connected to other cities in Spain, making travel throughout the country easy and convenient.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Lodging and Meals

  • How are the homes students live in? In Spain, almost everybody lives in apartments, and they are normally smaller than those in the US.
  • Will I live very far from the school? The homes can be in any area of the city, although we try to have them close enough to the school. If they are a little far, there is always bus that will pass near the school.
  • Do the families speak English? In most cases, no. That forces the student to speak Spanish, and that's the whole idea.
  • What if I have special needs related to diet, health, etc.? If you do (for example, if you are a vegetarian or are allergic to certain foods, etc.), you must notify the Institute as soon as possible so that we can find a family that can cater to your needs. Normally there is no additional cost associated with this, unless the special need is quite unusual and special efforts must be made to accommodate the student.
  • Is there more than one student in each home? Normally there will be two of our students in each home. Our experience tells us that this is psychologically good for the students and gives them more confidence. In some instances, there are other Spanish students in the same family.
  • What happens if I have a problem with the family? All the families in our program have been carefully selected and they have had the experience of hosting American students in the past. However, if there is ever a problem with any of the families, the Institute will help the students solve the problem, even if it requires switching to another home.


  • Can one take more than five courses per semester, or more than three in the summer sessions? Yes. But in order to take more courses you must consult with your university to confirm that they will accept more credits. Also, there will be an extra charge for additional courses. In general, we don't recommend that the student take more than the prescribed number of courses.
  • Can one take less than five courses per semester, or less than three in the summer sessions? Yes. You can take fewer courses if you don't need them and if you prefer to have a lighter academic schedule.
  • How many students are there in each class? The class limit is 15 students, but we try to have smaller classes of 10 students or so.
  • Are all classes taught in Spanish? Yes. Classes are taught completely in Spanish, with three exceptions: "History of Spanish Art", "Spanish Civilization" and "Present Day Spain". These three courses are offered to students who are starting to learn Spanish, but who are interested in those aspects of the Spanish culture.
  • Do all teachers speak English? No. Some of them English and can help the students occasionally, but the idea is for the students to get used to Spanish. The principal and program coordinators speak fluent English.
  • Are there any tests? Oh... yes. In addition to the normal homework there are two tests (one midterm and one final) in each session.
  • Do students need to purchase textbooks? How much do they cost? Most courses require that the student purchase textbooks. The average price is 20 euros (about $29), so each student should budget approximately $120 for books each semester and about $90 for the summer courses. In some courses the teachers give out printed materials instead of textbooks.
  • What's the schedule of classes? During the semester, each course takes place three hours per week on alternate days (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, or Tuesdays and Thursdays), either in the morning or in the afternoon. During the summer the courses are one hour and half per day (i.e., five days per week), and all classes take place between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
  • Can one come for a session (either a semester or a summer program) and stay longer? Yes. The student only needs to notify the school and make the appropriate arrangements prior to the end of the first session.
  • Are there other Spanish students in the school? Yes, but they come to learn English. Quite often we organize activities in which both Spanish and American students participate, thus getting to know each other and practicing the languages. We also organize conversation exchanges among the students so that they can freely practice with each other

ISS Semester in Spain Application