New From SPI: Study Abroad in Space!

For Immediate Release: 

(Austin, TX – April 1, 2016) SPI Study Abroad, a leading provider of international education for high school students, is bringing study abroad to the final frontier: space.

Just in time for Summer 2016, students will now have the opportunity to study for 2, 4, or 6 weeks on the International Space Station. While intergalacticly abroad, students will take conversational science classes, participate in daily activities & spacewalks, and stay in a comfortable student residence/laboratory.

“Popularizing study abroad for high schoolers studying STEM has always been a long-term goal here at SPI. While studying abroad is considered a hallmark of a humanities education, it hasn’t been as applicable to, say, someone who is passionate about organic chemistry or rocket science. This program gives those students a chance for an out-of-this-world experience! See what I did there? Because they’ll be leaving the bounds of Earth and studying in space,” said SPI Program Director John Foster, speaking from SPI’s home office in Austin, Texas, Planet Earth.

NASA as well as a consortium of space agencies are partnering with SPI to make the new program possible.

“When SPI called me and said they wanted to have high school students study on the International Space Station, I said that it was an awful idea. Then they told me how much they would pay us to make it happen and, well, the NASA budget just isn’t what it use to be. So I said ok, but on the condition that the teens don’t relentlessly bully me because of my last name. High school was really rough for me,” said  NASA  Astronaut & Study Abroad Liaison Mike McMolehair.

The tuition for SPI’s 2016 Space program starts at $3,695 + airfare. Families will have the flexibility to book their flights directly with Elon Musk, through Expedia, or using whatever standing credit they may have with Russia’s Roscosmos space agency. Along with the innumerable benefits, studying abroad in space also presents some unique challenges. Besides the homesickness that can be common with study abroad students, those traveling to space will now also contend with enhanced spine elongation and the type of insanity that only sets in after witnessing 15 sunrises in one day.

To help prepare for the experience, participating students will have access to SPI’s pre-departure services including orientation videos, a ride on the “Vomit Comet”, and a special Facebook group so students can get to know each other before the trip.

“It’s going to be great! We’ll have between 10 to 15 high schoolers studying in the coolest environment ever! What could go wrong? Actually, you know, as I say this stuff out loud and really think about it, a lot could go wrong. We might have rushed this a bit. Hmmm,” said Foster, who suddenly looked at the ground and appeared pensive.

Added Foster, “this may not be that great of an idea.”

Enrollments will be accepted today and today only but will also continue to be accepted after today. The news is already causing excitement among students.

“Studying abroad in space would be awesome! Sign me up! The whole insanity that sets in after watching 15 sunrises in a day kind of worries my mom, but I don’t care. The only thing I’m worried about is the re-adjustment that happens after I return to the states/Earth. I mean, I’ll be eating some delicious astronaut food and freeze-dried ice cream while I’m up there. When I get back, sure, I can buy astronaut food at my local sporting goods store, but it just wouldn’t quite taste the same, ya know?” pondered Jake Accord, a freshman at Evanston Township High School.

You can learn more about SPI’s 2016 Space program or any of our other study abroad destinations in Costa Rica, Spain, France, Italy, or China online at spiabroad.com.


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.