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SPI STUDY ABROAD - BLOG

How Study Abroad Will Make You a Leader

Ronald Reagan once said, “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” The ability to mobilize people and motivate them towards a productive end takes some serious skill and training. People spend years cultivating competence in leadership.

One key way to become a better leader is to spend some time overseas in a study abroad program! Studying abroad can help hone several crucial traits that are absolutely fundamental to leadership success.

Leaders Value People

The Ivey Business Journal equates the idea of “universalism” with success in leadership. Universalism is defined as the “outward expression of leadership character…made manifest by respectfulness for others, fairness, cooperativeness, compassion, spiritual respect, and humility.” In essence, being a good leader means that you regard the well-being of the person behind the goal just as much as (if not more than) the goal itself.

Studying abroad encourages this kind of thinking by encouraging its participants to develop a global consciousness. So, what exactly is a global consciousness? In short, this can be defined as the ability to value the distinct differences and cultural traits of peoples across the globe. Thus, through a more intimate understanding of a culture or a people, study abroad students are able to cultivate a healthy respect for humanity — a vital component of being a true, successful leader.

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Leaders Communicate

A good leader is a good communicator, no doubt about it. In fact, the Holden Leadership Center at the University of Oregon lists communication as the distinguishing factor that defines a strong leader. It notes, “As a leader, one must listen…a lot!  You must be willing to work to understand the needs and desires of others. A good leader asks many questions, considers all options, and leads in the right direction.” Studying abroad offers the ideal opportunity to develop excellent listening skills. As a matter of fact, survival in a foreign country hinges upon how well you listen to others. Study abroad students hone a variety of communication skills – both verbal and nonverbal – and solid communication becomes necessary to solve problems and navigate the unfamiliar practices of daily living.

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Leaders Exude Confidence

One subtle trait of a good leader is that he or she is able to inspire confidence and trust in others. This kind of assurance stems from being able to rely on oneself. In turn, relying on oneself comes from a lifetime of experiencing challenges and overcoming the obstacles they present. Being flexible, adaptable, and resourceful are critical traits of leaders. These characteristics can be developed through spending time overseas. Successfully navigating unfamiliar territory and finding solutions to unexpected problems quickly increases one’s confidence. Using your own abilities to problem-solve helps to develop a strong sense of independence. And when you feel confident in your own abilities, others feel confident in following you. This leads to an ability to truly motive those around you and inspire others to serve. As Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”

Our ever-growing global society is hungry for strong leadership, and studying abroad represents one surefire way in which to gain the skills and traits necessary for success in leadership. Valuing people, developing strong communication skills, and building confidence in one’s abilities are all vital components of leadership – studying abroad provides ample opportunity to refine each  of these areas. Those who choose to spend time overseas and perfect their skills are most certainly tomorrow’s leaders.

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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.