Borja Pérez-Mínguez | Travel blog

Last September we travelled to the coast of Florida to visit and select the best private schools in the state, both boarding and homestay options.

In this occasion I brought Diego with me, my 15 year old nephew, since we are going to send him to the United States to study for one academic year and the best way to select the perfect school is always visiting it.

In order to make the most of the week we rented a convertible Mustang (I always wanted to drive such an iconic American car) and drove across the entire east coast of Florida in around 10 hours starting in Miami, and driving through Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Palm Beach, Melbourne, Ocala and Orlando and selecting the best private schools in each area.

Right after the arrival you can immediately see the Spanish heritage Florida has in many areas like architecture, culture, folkore, food, and lenguage, very similar to the traditions we have in Spain. Specially in Miami where many of the citizens are both fluent in English and Spanish.

Thanks to the semi tropical climate, Florida is undoubtedly one of the best options for international academic year candidates who prefer a warm weather and beach related activities rather than the cold states located in the north, like the New England area, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Chicago, or New York to say a few. Florida is always warm and sunny and therefore is a perfect destination for surf lovers, marine biology enthusiastics, and students who prefer warm environments and have no ski interests.

This privileged weather allows students to participate in outside sports all year long with a wide range of options like soccer, golf, lacrosse, swimming, tennis or field hockey among many others. Besides the school teams, the students have the option to join local clubs where they can play those sports during the entire length of the academic year program.

Florida is a state with a very strong sport tradition and all boarding schools compete at the highest level in very different specialties and tournaments, from regional competition to state or even national championships.  For these reasons many of the students in these schools are competitive athletes and thanks to their performances and academic results, they may obtain merit scholarships or financial aid for becoming important assets to the centers.

Regarding weekend activities and once the students have finished all their academic and sport obligations, the idyllic environment of Florida allows many spectacular options like trips to the beach, surf programs, water parks, amusement parks like Disney, Universal Studios and Adventure Island, etc. The same goes for urban activities like NBA games, football games, baseball, movies, restaurants, shopping centers, etc.

The private catholic schools with host famly options are located in different areas, some of them located by spectacular beaches, and others close to major cities. Like always, in order to select the best school for each candidate it’s essential to stablish the student’s main interests.

Every school we promote at International Academic Programs has the College Prep designation, so all students are guided by their College Counselors to obtain places at the best universities of the United States.

Being schools with catholic tradition, every student will have a religion or thelogy class during the entire length of the program.

All schools offer a wide range of academic opportunities so every student gets to choose elective subjects based on their interests.

Regarding sports, every school offers many different specialties and the students get to practice up to 3 sports during the entire academic year, one in each specific season. Some of the programs are soccer, tennis, basketball, swimming, track and field, etc. Some even offer incredible equestrian programs.

For art enthusiastics the schools offer options like music, chorus, performing arts, orchestra, dance, drama, media studies, movie and tv production or even drone pilotage .

The host families the program selects are always the best families in the area, most of them have years of experience and some relation with the school: being former students, staff members, teachers, coaches or even having actual students at the schools.

Every international student we met mentioned they all felt like at home with their host families since they saw themselves as members of the American family. All houses are located in very safe and high income communities. The host families are the ones arranging every transfer from and to the airport, weekend transportation, etc.

About the uniforms, every school has similar options like shorts and polos of different colors for boys and girls.

At the following link you will find all the details of the program:

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