Santander – La Semana Primera

We made it! Students arrived and are having a blast! Here is a recap of our first days in Santander:
Saturday, June 16: Arrival day! A few students arrived early, the rest arrived later in the afternoon. For the students that arrived early, Beatriz and April took them around Santander – we went for a coffee/breakfast, walked around, visited Museo del Este, eventually had lunch at Dias del Sur, went to Centro Botin, eventually made our way to Hotel Bahia where we stored our luggage and relaxed while waiting for the rest of the students. Once the full group arrived, we had our initial introductions and orientation. Home stay families arrived to pick up each set of roommates and off everyone went to their home stay for the first night. Dinner was at home with the families and students were super tired from traveling!
Sunday, June 17: Orientation, walking tour. We met at the school (Escuela nautica) at 11:00. From there we walked down to the water for the complete orientation, details of the program, expectations, etc. We then walked by Playa de peligros and over to Playa del camello. Students had a little bit of free time there to explore before all walking to where we had lunch, Restaurante Cantabria. We had a typical Spanish lunch, Menu del dia, where students could chose between 4 choices for the first course, 4 for the second course and 4 for the third course. Lunch is HUGE here if you eat a typical Spanish lunch! After that, we walked to Ayuntamiento to show them the town hall, the cathedral, Correos, Banco de Espana, Centro de Botin and finally walked along the water to Chocolateria Valor. There, we ate churros con chocolate and families collected students there to take home for the night. Dinner and sleep – still a little jet lagged!
Monday, June 18: Placement tests and first day of class! Students arrived at 9:15 and took the placement exam, then had a little break before attending their first class. After classes ended, lunch with home stays and then we met at Nautica for a walking activity to Palacio de la Magdalena. Students were put into groups at random and walked around the park by the palace to take pictures and ask people (Spaniards they met along the way) different questions in Spanish. We then all walked to Regma at Sardinero for ice cream. Students were free after that to go home for dinner with home stays.
Tuesday, June 19: First day of regular classes (since yesterday was placement test), lunch with home stays and then optional activity (which all students opted to go!) was taking public train 45 minutes away to a small, typical Spanish town called Lierganes. There, we walked around the cute town, looked at the old buildings, listened to the quiet, peaceful sounds of a pueblo, free time to explore and eat churros con chocolate and then met up for the train back to Santander.
Wednesday, June 20: Classes in the morning, lunch and then met at Nautica as a group, took public bus to Sardinero, walked to Faro Cabo Mayor…students were put into groups and had an hour and a half to explore, taking pictures of specific landmarks and asking Spaniards (different) questions in Spanish along the way. We met up at the Faro for de-briefing and pictures and then walked back to the main town area to get the bus, taxi, ice cream, free time, or head home for dinner with home stays.
Now back to to the fun we’re having! Check in to see our next post about our upcoming excursions and activities including our trip to the Picos de Europa!

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.

Please Share This:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Leave a Reply

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.