How Travel Will Change Your Personality

There’s just something about travel that immediately heightens the senses and gets the heart pumping a beat faster – something about exploring the unknown speaks to a primal, innate feeling of possibility. To be sure, traveling is thrilling, but there can also be longer-lasting effects that stem from time away from home – effects that impact you on a deep, identity-shifting level. Here are just a few of the ways that travel actually changes your personality:

Become a Better Global Citizen

Through the ingenuity of technology, we can now virtually zip across the globe in a matter of seconds or hours. Gone are the days of months-long, wearying travel. As a result, we absolutely live in a truly global society – one in which borders slowly become fuzzy and the differences between us, though still distinct, start to fade.

Travel enables you to become a better, more conscious citizen in our global society. By experiencing diverse cultures, you’re able to become aware of the complex relationships and histories pulsing across the globe. This experience leads to a better understanding of people and how they function in a multitude of situations. Seeing how our own cultural origins are connected to – and even dependent upon – the unique times and places shaping other nations helps to broaden our perspective. Travelers become global citizens who are able to be more compassionate, more knowledgeable, and more aware of the world around us.

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Hone Communication Skills

Whether you are desperately trying to find a bathroom or attempting to pay the correct amount for your taxi ride, traveling abroad will undoubtedly refine your communication skills. Face-to-face interaction, especially with those whose language differs from your own, becomes a kind of challenge, a daily gauntlet run with perseverance. The ability to clearly, verbally communicate your needs and ideas is a valuable tool in today’s fast-paced, technology-obsessed society. Even if you are the quiet, shy type, you will discover a hidden aptitude for finding your voice through travel — traveling demands in-the-moment communication with those around you, and can help you develop a capability for solving cross-cultural problems and barriers. Human, personal interaction becomes the focal point.  A translation app may not be enough when ordering off the menu at a back alley cafe in Venice, but expressive eyes and hand gestures do the trick. When you don’t get cell service on the milk train rumbling through the Alps, you just may be forced to strike up a conversation with the older gentleman next to you, who then walks you to the stoop of your hostel and chivalrously tips his hat before turning to leave.

And this is the other bonus:

Learning to communicate with strangers around you opens you up to an entirely new world filled with stories, experiences, and the potential for memories to be made in the moment.

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Enrich Your Life

No one comes away from an experience abroad without having been changed, at least slightly, in some way. That is, after all, why we travel in the first place – to do things we never would in our “real lives”, to see things we’ve only seen in books, and to meet people whose paths we might never cross otherwise. Traveling changes your personality when you experience the “new.” When your life becomes inextricably intertwined with a place or a person or an event, you are altered forever. Memories like that – the life-shaping kind – sustain you for years. They become threads in the fabric of who you are, and bring a vibrant color and texture to the tapestry of your life.

The inescapable truth is that travel will definitely change your personality in some way. How that happens is entirely up to you.


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.


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!

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.