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SPI STUDY ABROAD - BLOG

San Sebastian Summer 3

SPI Study Abroad San Sebastian Spain 239 1024x641
SPI Study Abroad San Sebastian Spain 239 1024x641

The group arrived safely on Saturday and since then we have been running a mile a minute!

Saturday students met their host families for the first time and truly began their immersion experience.

Sunday the group reconnected and had their first official tour of beautiful San Sebastian. Knowing this was their home for the next few weeks brought excitement to the entire group. San Sebastian is not only beautiful but chock full of things to do and culture to experience.

Monday we  had our first day of class that included a placement exam for students.  Following class, we took a tour of La Parte Vieja famous for the pintxo (tapa) spots and Basque favorite Mosto (non-alcoholic apple juice drink). Although it was a rainy afternoon, all enjoyed indulging in these delectable treats.

Tuesday after class the group walked along the beach and la Concha to take the funicular up to Monte Igueldo. This local attraction has the most amazing views of San Sebastian. Once on top, the group experienced the famed ‘atracciones’ of Monte Igueldo — roller coasters, bumper cars, trampolines etc..

Wednesday classes continue and continues to advance and review our knowledge of Spanish 🙂 In the afternoon we took a boat ride and visited Pasajes San Juan. We walked through the quaint Basque town and finished with an amazing cooking class. We made a fantastic meal that included some of the incredible pintxos we tasted on Monday.

Thursday afternoon and evening we spent as a group at the Microteatro in Farandula Theater for the play “Su EX’.  Post activity, students attended an optional dinner at the Tabakalara to taste the ‘Pizza del dia’.

Friday was a rainy day so we enjoyed some comfort food (churros y chocolate at the famous Santa Lucia) and visited the movie theater for a Spanish film. The film was called ‘El Mejor Verano de Mi Vida’ — The Best Summer of My Life — and told the story of a father and son who, with no plans or funds for an epic adventure, ended up with just that and so much more. The students loved it!

Saturday – Full day excursion! We met in the morning and traveled as a group to Biarritz, France! We stopped in the historic town of St. Jean de Luz where we stopped at historical sites, walked the promenade and shopped the quaint street called Rue Gambetta. We continued on to Biarritz, the elegant seaside town on France’s southwest Basque coast. Students took in the sites, enjoyed the food and this gorgeous resort town made popular in the 1800’s when European royalty began visiting.

Sundays are meant for rest and free days …. Not for this group! The students opted to take a walk to the top of Mt. Urgull on this gorgeous day!

Monday – Class then off to Zumaia! We had the opportunity to hike and find some of the Game of Thrones landscape and also enjoy the gorgeous beach!

Tuesday – Time to Dance! After class, the entire group attended a dance lesson. We learned (and laughed alot) bachata and merengue with freestyle time as well. We were impressed to see how engaged all of the students were!

Wednesday – We are loving our new routine in San Sebastian and getting to know the surrounding areas! Today we are spending our full afternoon in Hondarribia! Hondarribia is a coastal town in northern Spain on the French border. We learned about the history including visiting the Santa Maria gate (the entry to the old walled town). After we toured this beautiful spot, we took time to get snacks and explored the shops in the town.

Thursday – Surfs up! Another morning of classes and students are really improving their Spanish! After class, we took a surfing lesson on Zurriola, San Sebastian’s main surfing beach. We started with some really funny warm up waves and then hit the waves. Many students were surprised how naturally surfing came to them!

Friday – Is it really our last day?!?! We enjoyed our last day of classes and recognized the real progress we have made linguistically during this immersion. Many students used the afternoon to enjoy the beauty of San Sebastian with friends. We met back up as a group for our farewell party – Fiesta de Despedida – at Bsiete restaurant in Gros by our school. We visit with friends, directors, teacher and our homestays even attended. It was a great night. All will be sad to leave our fantastic group and incredible San Sebastian tomorrow.

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.