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SPI STUDY ABROAD - BLOG

Biarritz – Summer 3 and Month Final 2 weeks

Biarritz France Study Abroad Gallery 218
Biarritz France Study Abroad Gallery 218

Saturday – July 14th

We welcomed the new Summer 3 students into our fold and they couldn’t have come at a better time as that very evening they were able to celebrate Bastille Day with us as we viewed an amazing fireworks display right on the beach!

Sunday – July 15th

All of Biarritz and the entire country of France rejoiced in the World Cup victory! Two very memorable events right out of the gate!

Monday – July 16th 

After an exciting weekend, we settled back into classes and Summer 3 students took placement exams so they could be placed in the appropriate language class level. After class, we visited Musee de la Mer / The Aquarium of Biarritz. There are various tanks of marine life from the Bay of Biscay, info on fishing, cetaceans and the history of whaling. There are even tanks that show North Atlantic exhibits, Caribbean life and the Indo-Pacific tank where we watched lots of sharks (always a favorite).

Tuesday – July 17th

Tuesday was GORGEOUS! With the weather being so perfect many students signed up for the optional activity of SURFING!

Wednesday – July 18th

We visited Bayonne, a beautiful town which was once one of the major port towns in France. Summer 3 students visited the Musée Bayonne where they learned about its history while Summer 2/Month students enjoyed their free time to shop and further explore the town.

Thursday – July 19th 

Our optional activity today was the rafting expedition! It was the first time for our Summer 3 students to sign up and many opted in and enjoyed this group excursion!

Friday – July 20th

After class (summer three completing their first full week of language classes!), the group visited Villa Arnaga, home of the author of Cyrano de Bergerac. We walked through the home and gardens which are very typical Basque architecture and landscape.

Saturday – July 21st

Our Saturday excursion was great fun as all students went to San Sebastián and enjoyed the town and its wonderful tapas and shopping opportunities!

Sunday – July 22nd

Much needed day of rest!

Monday – July 23rd

Another beginning to our week and day of classes and excitement! Class gave us more confidence speaking as we continue to practice in class with our teachers and peers. In the afternoon, Summer 3 students visited St. Jean de Luz a Basque town just east of the Bay of Biscay and even saw the church in which Louis XIV married Maria Theresa. So  much history! Month students visited St. Jean Pied de Port a part of the French Basque country, the final stop for  pilgrims along the Santiago de Compostela before arriving in the Pyrenees foothills.

Tuesday – July 24th

Month students said hello to Bordeaux and Summer 3 students enjoyed surf and the ropes course or free time in town.

Wednesday – July 25th

Half way through the week and (sadly) most of the way through our summer, our French is second nature now. Using it at home, school, in town, with peers, directors and teachers. Summer 3 students scaled La Rhune and Month students enjoyed an afternoon of French cinema

Thursday – July 26th

We finished our morning classes and afternoon routine and met back up as a group to go to a French cooking class. There is nothing quite like French cuisine! And now we have the skills to cook it at home!

Friday – July 27th

Our final day in Biarritz.. Wow, it has flown by. We enjoyed the final full 24 hours. Finished our now fun and easy routine. Classes finished, we spent the afternoon enjoying the town and beach and finally said our goodbyes at a farewell party in the evening. Thank you for the memories Biarritz. It has been an exceptional summer.

A Life-changing Experience!

Get ready to experience and SPI Abroad program yourself. Learn more about our programs or request more information today.

Request Your Catalog Today.

Fill out the form below and we will send you a catalog and get in touch. Please note all fields are required.

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Request Your Catalog Today.

Fill out the form below and we will send you a catalog and get in touch. Please note all fields are required.

A Life-changing Experience!

Get ready to experience and SPI Abroad program yourself. Learn more about our programs or request more information today.

Request Your Catalog Today.

Fill out the form below and we will send you a catalog and get in touch. Please note all fields are required.

On-Site Supervision Team Abroad

We hire bilingual high school teachers, university professors, and caring local staff who, as a team, serve as international “moms and dads” throughout the program. Directors actively participate in all aspects of the immersion experience: helping with housing adjustments, checking in on classes, and making sure students are taking advantage of the wonderful excursion and activity opportunities. All SPI staff go through extensive reference checks.

Training & Experience

Directors are selected based on their experience working with teenagers in an international setting, their ability to communicate fluently in the language of study, and their academic & professional background. All on-site staff go through an intensive training process.

Daily Supervision

Students are expected to be respectful of their directors’ guidelines and abide by the SPI standards of conduct at all times. SPI directors and program staff are available 24 hours a day. Directors check in with students on a daily basis in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings; they also frequently monitor all aspects of each student’s progress. Homestays and residence directors are contacted to learn how students are adjusting, and to handle any concerns. Daily curfews are enforced.

Student Behavior Expectations

Since 1996, we have proudly attracted an academically-minded student body focused on improving their language skills and growing from cultural experiences. At SPI, we take our role as teachers seriously — we recognize that we are responsible for guiding students through one of their most life-changing experiences. We expect students not only to abide by our standards of conduct at all times, but also to serve as ambassadors of their local communities, schools, and cities.

No Alcohol Policy

SPI maintains a strict policy against the use of alcohol. Directors check in with students in the evenings; however, parents are expected to review our standards of conduct with their children and set clear family expectations prior to the start of the program with regards to their behavior abroad.

Afternoon Elective Activities

Our meaningful afternoon elective activities make local culture, art, architecture, museums, sports, and attractions come to life! Each program offers a variety of engaging activities designed to combine serious fun with truly inspiring “once in a lifetime” experiences. Electives are not included in the program price, and we suggest students budget $100 per week for participation in these incredible learning experiences.

Common Afternoon Electives

CULTURAL: Cooking, Dance, Art & Architecture, Museum & Theater Visits, Local Sporting & Cultural Events

SPORTS: Surfing, Volleyball, Soccer, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Hikes & Walks

ENRICHMENT: Photography, College Prep (Essay Writing, Admissions Prep), Photography, Guest Speakers

Sample Travel Excursions

SPAIN: Bilbao, Pamplona, Santander, San Sebastian, Guernika, Biarritz (France), Comillas, Picos de Europa

FRANCE: Bordeaux, Bayonne, Anglet, San Sebastian (Spain), St. Jean de Luz, Pyrenees Mountains

COSTA RICA: Liberia, Cloud Forest, Puntarenas, Rincon de la Vieja, Tamarindo Beach

ITALY: Florence, Orvieto, San Gimignano, San Vincezo, Castiglione della Pescaia

Our Screening & Selection Process

Students live with roommates in a local homestay or student residence that is experienced in hosting foreign students. SPI has worked with most participating homestays and student residences for a number of years, and they understand students are there to learn the language and experience the culture. SPI diligently screens each homestay and student residence facility with the following in mind: safety, location, cleanliness, and previous experience hosting students.

HOMESTAY EXPECTATIONS

Most homestays have hosted students for many years and take their jobs and duties as cultural ambassadors very seriously. Our foreign schools also work with each family on a year-round basis to ensure a positive experience is had by each student. It is critical to understand that most homestays come from humble means and different dynamics.

Location of Housing

All housing options are located within a 10-30 minute commute from the school. Students will walk or take the local bus, which is a safe and normal way for students their age to get around in our host cities. The majority of our housing options are located in the same areas where students will be close to each other.

Evening Curfews

Student curfews are set based on what a culturally appropriate weekday and weekend curfew would be for teenagers in the country of study. This is normally between 10 PM – 11 PM on weekdays and a little later on the weekends depending on location and group dynamic. As an important safety measure, program staff diligently monitor student curfews. Specific curfews are listed on each program page for your reference. 

Typical Housing Dynamics

Students are well supported in all housing options and are provided with: meals, a living and study space, laundry service or facilities, linens and towels. It is fundamental that students have an open mind to trying new foods and living in an environment different than “home” to benefit from this transformative experience!

HOMESTAY EXPECTATIONS
Although SPI homestays come in all shapes and sizes, the majority are older couples or single/widowed women in their 50s – 60s who have extra room in their home and are eager to host students. We have found this dynamic provides the best support, the most interaction, and the most culturally rich experience. Some homestays do have children, but students should keep in mind that homestays with children are busier and often offer less interaction — much like a busy American family.

Language Course Overview

The language courses focus on developing communication skills by simulating real-life situations through interactive class activities that include writing, oral expression, film, music, food, and literature.

> 2 Hours – Grammatical Concepts

> 1-2 Hours – Conversation, Culture, Literature, Film, etc.

> Small class sizes with levels 1 through AP/IB

College Credit Opportunity

SPI uses foreign universities and accredited language institutes for coursework abroad. These institutions provide high school students, upon successful completion of their courses, with an official transcript that they may use to petition college credit from their future university or college. Official transcripts are first sent to SPI in September, and then we will mail an official copy of the transcript in a sealed envelope to each participant. You will mail the official transcript packet directly to your U.S. university once you are enrolled.

Credit Hours vs. Credit Granted

Most SPI language immersion programs give 30-80 contact hours, or classroom hours, enabling for a potential of up to 1-6 semester college credit hours by your university. Contact hours are treated differently at every school. Some schools will grant specific class credit for the hours (e.g., Spanish), although most give a general foreign language or elective credit. Normally, 15 Contact/Class Hours = 1 College Credit Hour.

IMPORTANT:  Due to the nature of college credit granting by each individual U.S. university, it is impossible for SPI to guarantee credit for any student.