San Sebastian – 7/9 – 7/14

SPI Study Abroad San Sebastian Spain 015 1024x639
SPI Study Abroad San Sebastian Spain 015 1024x639

Monday, July 9

In the afternoon, students were led to another of San Sebastián‘s beautiful mountains, Monte Igeldo. To reach the mountain, the students took a stroll along the beautiful promenade of the famous La Concha beach, taking a short rest on the brilliant green lawn of Miramar Palace, previously the preferred summer retreat of the Spanish Queen Maria Cristina, who believed the beautiful waters of La Concha had a healing effect on the body. The students then boarded a funicular (cable train) for the short ride up to the summit of Monte Igeldo. Atop Igeldo, students encountered stunning views of La Concha, the bay with its island (Isla Santa Clara), Monte Urgull, and the city. Also on the summit is a tiny amusement park dating back to the early 20th century. Students enjoyed its quaint antique attractions, like the “Río Misterioso” (Mysterious River) and the “Montaña Suiza” (a very small roller coaster). Students descended the mountain once again via the funicular and were free to enjoy the city before returning to their homestays for dinner.
Tuesday, July 10
This afternoon students went on a visit to the Museo San Telmo, which is inside an old convent with beautiful architecture. Students learned about Basque history, such as whaling, ancient tools and dress, etc. There was also a special exhibit on mythological art, featuring 2000-year-old sculptures from ancient Rome and lots of medieval art depicting the various myths of ancient Rome and Greece.
Wednesday, July 11
Students took a private coach to Pamplona, in Navarra Province, to experience the Fiestas de San Fermín, also known internationally as the “running of the bulls”. An early start got the students to Pamplona by 7:30 AM. The directors led the students to the Plaza de Toros, where the crowd was entertained by live music in the center of the stadium. Later, the running of the bulls began and the students could watch the action on large monitors inside the stadium. Finally, the runners started pouring into the arena below, followed shortly thereafter by the bulls! The bulls were guided into their pen and the runners shouted and celebrated below. Soon thereafter, the “vaquillas” or little cows were brought out one by one. Smaller and not quite as aggressive as the bulls, the runners then spend time in the arena dodging the charges of the vaquillas. Afterward, the students were treated to a breakfast of churros and chocolate in a nearby plaza. Finally, students were given free time to explore the area and do some souvenir shopping before heading back to San Sebastián in the early afternoon.
Thursday, July 12
Tuesday was a free day with the optional activity of dance lessons, specifically rumba flamenca, which is a traditional Spanish dance style with its origins in Andalucía (southern Spain), but with a Cuban flair (rumba). Many students opted to participate and had a great time learning a new way to dance!
Friday, July 13
After classes, students took a short train ride through the beautiful Basque countryside to Zumaia, a nearby coastal pueblo. Zumaia has garnered some fame in recent years for being a shooting location for the massive hit Spanish film Ocho Apellidos Vascos as well as a shooting location for the mega-popular HBO series Game of Thrones. It is also home to a unique geological formation, known as the flysch, which are layers of exposed sedimentary rock, creating a breathtaking rugged coastline. Students enjoyed a short hike along the coastline as well as some free time to explore the beach, complete with mini sea-caves and centuries-old stone fortifications.
Saturday, July 14
This Saturday’s day trip took the students to the nearby city of Bilbao, the largest in the Spanish Basque Country. Students were guided to the famous Guggenheim Museum where they marveled at a large variety of modern art, from the famous giant “Puppy” sculpture made of flowers that towers just outside the museum to strange multimedia artworks from China that both intrigued and bewildered! After the museum, students were free to explore Bilbao for several hours before heading back to San Sebastián.
Sunday, June 15
Free day! Students spent the day enjoying San Sebastián as they wished!

A Life-changing Experience!

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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.