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European gap year programs

Step-by-step in Asturias, Spain to speak fluent Spanish, get work experience, build inter-cultural confidence...

IFE’s European Gap Year in Spanish take place in two stages from September to May.

  • Part I - Exploration & Adaptation (September - December)
  • Part II - Internship & Integration (January-May)

LOCATION

Asturias is a green, mountainous region with a rugged Atlantic coastline, intensely agricultural and home to a thriving economy of small and mid-sized businesses. Boasting Oviedo, the historical city of princes, and the modern bustling city of Gijón, Asturias offers multiple perspectives on the modern Spanish experience.

Gijón and Oviedo comprise a thriving urban area in beautiful natural surroundings on the northern Spanish coast. With a combined population of 500,000, they provide a full range of field experiences in a human-sized setting. Though home to a top-ranked European university, there is no American student presence, making it ideal for young English-speakers who wish to perfect their understanding of Spanish language and society without distraction.

IFE’s center is located on the University of Oviedo’s lovely Gijón campus, set at the edge of the city, a ten-minute bus ride from downtown.

CALENDAR

Part I in the fall runs for 12 weeks, from mid-September to mid-December. Part II is 14 weeks long, from early January to late April.

PROGRAM

Part I - Exploration & Adaptation

Objectives

Part I of the IFE Gap Year provides students with:
- intensive language training to improve their intermediate level to a more advanced level focused especially on oral skills and confidence
- an in-depth introduction to local and European society and contemporary issues
- cross-cultural training including extensive opportunities for site-visits, inter-cultural workshops, interaction with local residents and the like.
Upon completion of Part I, students are fully prepared for Part II - Internship & Integration, in the spring.

Program Elements

Part I is structured around three elements, as described below. In addition, other visits and activities take place under the supervision of the IFE Gap Year Group Leader, at the group leader’s and students’ initiative.

- Intermediate Spanish course: “Advanced Conversation”. This language course, taught by a certified Spanish as a Foreign language instructor, meets one hour per day for four days each week with an additional one-hour conversation section three times a week.
- Introductory cultural course: "Understanding Contemporary Spain: An interactive approach". Taught in Spanish for non-native speakers, this course enables students to acquire an inside perspective on current Spanish and European society. The diverse pedagogy includes seminar format classroom instruction, field trips, and guided individual discovery assignments, interviews of local residents, and the like. The course meets three hours weekly, with additional hours of advising, tutorials, and guided outings for a total of approximately 6-8 hours per week.
- The IFE Practicum: The practicum represents an opportunity for students to practice and improve their oral language skills, to concretize their understanding of local society as taught in the Introductory Cultural Course, and to gain inter-cultural confidence and skills. These goals are achieved through discussion sessions, excursions, inter-cultural workshops, and a guided “e-portfolio” project on a theme that interests the student. Sources for the e-portfolio include interviews with local practitioners and activists and other related experiences as can be arranged by IFE’s Asturias staff. The practicum represents a minimum of 8-10 hours per week.

Formal program activities account for approximately 25 hours per week

Part II- Internship & Integration

Objectives
Part II of the IFE Gap Year provides students the opportunity and the necessary training and support to successfully pursue an internship in Spain, in Spanish. The goals of Part II are:
- To perfect language skills (consolidated in Part I)
- To deepen students’ familiarity with Spanish society (and with what it means to be European)
- To continue their acquisition of cross-cultural skills, self-awareness and the confidence to take on challenges and integrate unfamiliar cultures.

Program Elements
Part II runs for fourteen weeks, and is constructed around a twelve-week internship. This part also includes the preparation and support needed to be successful in the internship, as well as organized activities to foster reflection on the experience.

- "The Internship Preparation Course" meets six hours weekly during the first two weeks of part II, with the aim of preparing students to make full use of the internship opportunity through a briefing on one or more important current events issues important in Spanish society. The topics, chosen each year, are both a lens for further understanding Spanish culture as well as a way to help students join the conversation on the job and elsewhere. The course adopts a seminar format and entails readings and small group projects. Discussion of comparative views from students’ home cultures is encouraged.
- " The Internship Companion Course" meets weekly throughout Part II. With the aim of helping students understand and assimilate their experience in the internship, it includes discussions on topics from the preparation course to help students make sense of current events, as well as an inter-cultural workshop to prepare students and to provide debriefing and follow-up of students’ experiences on the internship. Additionally, this course supports and advises students on the preparation of the internship report (see below).
- "The Internship and Field Report" Since most internship placements in Spain require university training, IFE has tailored the Gap Year Internship to offer students the possibility of real participation in useful internship experiences. Certain milieu are more apt to provide such opportunities such as education, social and humanitarian action, or artisanal and retail activity.
Examples of internship placements include neighborhood social agencies working with youth, senior citizens, or marginalized populations; bakeries, organic groceries, florists or bookstores; teacher’s assistant in elementary or middle schools, assisting artisans or farmers, among other possibilities. The internship represents an engagement of approximately 20-25 hours a week.

The internship experience is an opportunity to speak Spanish in a practical setting, to develop workplace relationships by putting into play knowledge and skills gained in Part I in the fall and, overall, to continue skill and knowledge acquisition by daily immersion. Working in Asturias will truly allow students to become insiders of Spanish society.

The internship experience is enhanced and made more tangible by the work of producing the IFE Gap Year Field Report. Each student works with their IFE staff advisor (Group Leader) to plan, research and write a report synthesizing their work and learning experiences as an intern, and generating some analysis or conclusion on the experience. Students are urged to maintain a journal or log of their daily experiences and reactions on the internship as a useful source for the Field Report.

Formal program activities account for approximately 25 hours per week

HOUSING
IFE Gap Year students live with families participating in a local network of known, IFE-vetted host families in Asturias Spain. IFE takes responsibility for matching students with families, is available throughout the year for any difficulties and handles all business matters. Participating families have the habit of including students in family life, excursions, and the like.

ELIGIBILITY
Eligible students will have completed secondary education, be at least 18 years old, and will have studied Advanced Placement Spanish throughout their secondary schooling, or otherwise achieved an advanced level (B1) in the language. Successful applicants also demonstrate the personal maturity necessary to embark on an experiential program in another culture and language, and to handle in an adult manner the independence associated with such an endeavor.

IFE Gap Year Part I is open to students wishing to enroll for Part I only. Benefits from this part taken by itself include significant language progress, understanding and integrating host country society, cross-cultural skill development, and increased self-confidence and self-reliance. (See IFE for cost.)

The program is designed as a progressive year, in which the fall prepares students for the full-integration/internship of the spring. If students wish to enroll in the spring only — Part II — they may contact IFE to discuss. The approval process includes an interview to determine language level and personal readiness. (See IFE for cost.)

COST
12,800 EUROS – Price includes all program fees, excursions and entry fees, and family-stay housing for seven months (individual room, all breakfasts, five dinners). Price does include IFE-provided information, assistance and follow-op for obtaining a student visa for Spain. Price does NOT include airfare.

APPYLING
Currently accepting applications for Fall 2021. Please contact Emily Freeman at info@ife-edu.eu for more information.

COLLEGE CREDIT
The Advanced Conversation language course in Part I is the most likely course for earning college credit. Upon request, IFE helps make this arrangement with the understanding that final approval is the sole prerogative of the home university. IFE is ready to provide the same assistance for the other two main components of Part I, or for the ensemble of Seminar, Internship and Field Report of Part II.

Students who successfully complete the IFE Gap Year may earn IFE’s Intercultural Competence Certificate, an electronic badge recognized by education abroad officials on US campuses. Information upon request.

AND WHAT ABOUT IFE’S FIELD STUDY AND INTERNSHIP PROGRAMS?

IFE’s Field Study and Internship programs are available to independent students who have accomplished some or all of a college education, and meet the normal requirements for these programs. Additionally, Gap Year students who perform extremely well during Part I and wish to pursue the Field Study and Internship Program in lieu of Part II may qualify to do so, on an exceptional basis. Information upon request.

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