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SPI STUDY ABROAD - BLOG

San Sebastian Month & 6 week: Weekly Recap

SPI Study Abroad San Sebastian Spain 273 1024x641
SPI Study Abroad San Sebastian Spain 273 1024x641
Monday, July 16
Taking advantage of a rainy day, we headed to the theatre to see a movie in Spanish. Since this is the best summer of our lives, we very appropriately saw “El mejor verano de mi vida” the best summer of my life- a charming Spanish film about a father son pair who, without plans or funds for an epic vacation, ended up with just that and so much more.
Tuesday, July 17
After school, students met with directors to have small group discussions in Spanish to talk about our visit to the Guggenheim the Saturday before. It was fun to compare our opinions on the works of art we felt were the best/worst/most expensive/took most time or talent. These small group discussions were followed by free time for the afternoon/evening.
Wednesday, July 18
Abby Burns was presented with a cake for her birthday after school today. Feliz Cumpleaños! We then visited the nearby town of Pasaia (Basque) or Pasajes (Spanish), which is composed of the two tiny pueblos of San Juan and SanPedro which are separated by a tiny 2-minute ferry crossing and known for their fantastic rowing teams. Students were then led to the Albaola Museum where they learned about the construction of a replica 16th century Basque whaling ship. The wreck of the original ship, the San Juan, was discovered several years ago off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. The excellent condition of the wreck, along with papers discovered in an old university in Oñati (a town the students will visit the coming Saturday), has allowed for the construction of the exact replica. The replica of the San Juan is being constructed without the use of any modern tools as the carpenters are hoping to complete the construction of the old sailing ship using the same technology as would have been used in the 16th century. It is projected to be completed in 2020, at which point it will sail its original course to Newfoundland and back (hopefully with greater success than its predecessor!).
Thursday, July 19
Today’s activity was an optional cooking class in a restaurant in the nearby town of Pasaia, where the students were the day before. The vast majority of the students elected to participate. Students learned a variety of kitchen skill, including cleaning anchovies, filleting hake, making handmade croquettes, assembling the traditional Basque pintxo “gilda” (anchovy, olives, and “guindillas” or spicy pickled peppers), and various other pintxos. Students then enjoyed the fruits of their labor as they sat down while the kitchen staff put the finishing touches on everything before delivering a multi-course meal of pintxos that the students made! Finishing with a dessert of puff pastry and fruit which the students also made, we then headed back to San Sebastián, bellies full!
Friday, July 20
This afternoon, to give the students a change of pace, they were brought to the nearby town of Getaria, famous for its tiny mountain that looks like a mouse (“el ratón de Getaria”). Students were given free time to explore this incredibly charming little town.
Saturday, July 21
This Saturday’s day trip took us to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, another recently famous Game of Thrones filming location. Sometimes referred to jokingly as the “little Great Wall of Spain”, San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is a hermitage located on top of a tiny island connected to the mainland by an enchanting, narrow, winding stone staircase. A short hike to reach the top of the island presented the students with beautiful views of the stairs and the rugged Basque coastline. Hiking back to the bus, students were then taken to the town of Oñati. An unexpected bicycle race (which the students found really cool!) delayed us on the way there as the police cleared the road and our bus was forced to pull over for quite some time. Therefore we unfortunately were unable to go into the town, but were still able to enjoy the natural pools formed by cold springs in the town. The water was very chilly, but that didn’t deter our brave students! Lifeguards looked on as the students climbed up to a small waterfall where they had a blast jumping down into the deep water below.
Sunday, July 22
Free day! Students spent the day enjoying San Sebastián as they pleased!

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.

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.