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SPI STUDY ABROAD - BLOG

Santander – Week 2 + Bienvenidos Summer 2! – 6/27 – 7/3

Santander Study Abroad Gallery Image 105
Santander Study Abroad Gallery Image 105

Wednesday, June 27: Right after Spanish classes today, we went by private bus for an excursion to El Soplao and Santillana del mar. We first went on a tour of La cueva de El Soplao and had a guided visit (en espanol) through the cave. After we loaded up on our bus, we headed to the town of Santillana del mar. After an explanation of why Santillana del mar is considered the town of “tres mentiras,” students had free time to meander through and explore the Casco viejo (also called casco historico) which is the old part of town.

Thursday, June 28: This afternoon, several students braved the waves and took a surfing lesson at Playa Somo. It was an overcast day, so the waves weren’t actually very big, but made for a good day for beginners to learn to surf. We took the ferry from Santander to Somo and some students enjoyed the beach of Somo while others surfed. The ferry back to Santander allowed us some great views of el Palacio de la Magdalena and the city of Santander.
Friday, June 29: Today was the last day of classes for Summer 1 students. They took their “final exam,” and received certificates of attendance for the past two weeks. Students enjoyed free time on their last day here in Santander and we all met up at Bodegas Mazon for our “cena de despedida,” which was our last meal all together.
Saturday, June 30: Departure day for Summer 1! These past two weeks absolutely flew by. There’s no denying tons of new friendships were made in this group and that they left with tons of great experiences, stories and memories! The Santander Month students went on an excursion to Bilbao. There, they explored “la parte vieja” (the old part) of the city, saw the cathedral, and explored the streets filled with shops and cafes. After some free time in la parte vieja, students rode the trolley to the Guggenheim Museum. After finish at the museum, they eventually made their way back to Santander. Meanwhile, back in Santander, Summer 2 students arrived! It was a rainy arrival day, but every one (and their luggage) made it safely! We introduced ourselves to everyone and went through an orientation before homestay families met us at Hotel Bahia and students headed off to their new home for the next two weeks!
Sunday, July 1: Summer 2 students were accompanied by their homestays to Escuela Nautica to help them learn the commute from their homestay to school each day. We started our day at Nautica with a more in-depth orientation and then went on a walking tour of Santander. We walked to a couple of beaches and walked to where we had lunch at Restaurante Cantabria. Month students joined us for a very typical “Menu del dia” lunch. After a big lunch (lunch is traditionally the biggest meal of the day in Spain), many month students headed off to watch the Spain vs. Russia football match of the World Cup and Summer 2 plus a couple of Month students continued walking about Santander. We explored the Ayuntamiento, Catedral, Correos, Banco de Espana, Banco de Santander, Centro Botin and eventually ended at Chocolateria Valor for a tasty treat of Churros con chocolate. Homestay families picked up their students to help them home for dinner and a much needed night’s sleep.
Monday, July 2: Today was a regular day of classes for the old pros in the month group and was the placement test for our new summer 2 students. After classes and lunch today, we took a public bus to a beautiful, peaceful town called Puente Viesgo. Students had free time in the town to enjoy the mountains, river, park, bridges and all other sights and sounds of a quiet pueblo in Cantabria before returning to Santander.
Tuesday, July 3: Today was a beautiful, sunny day in Santander. The optional activity for the day was the ropes course. Thirteen students zipped through the course like pros, only losing, but later finding, one sneaker in the process! The others opted for tiempo libre and a few went to the Magic/Science/Optical Illusion exhibit in Plaza Porticada. There’s always something to do in Santander!
That concludes this week’s summary. More to come as we’ve still got lots on our itinerary!

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.