SPI High School Spanish Immersion & Cultural Leadership in Spain
97% Rating
(27 Reviews)

SPI High School Spanish Immersion & Cultural Leadership in Spain

By SPI Study Abroad Reviewer Verified Badge   Reviews (27)   97% Rating
SPI High School Study Abroad is excited to announce Spanish Immersion in Mexico is back!
*Please visit our website for details on our language and cultural immersion program in Mexico.

SPI Study Abroad's two Spanish immersion programs in Santander and San Sebastian gives high school students the opportunity to live with caring homestay families, attend Spanish language and culture class for college credit, participate in a variety of fun activities, and travel to some of the country’s most amazing sites!

About San Sebastian
San Sebastian, or Donostia, is an enchanting coastal city located in the lush rolling hills of northern Spain's Guipuzkoa province. Over the years, the city’s pristine beaches, scenic landscapes, world-famous cuisine and annual events have made it an increasingly popular destination for both family vacation and study abroad.

About Santander
As SPI's longest running immersion program since 1996, Santander has maintained its popularity as an ideal location for high school students seeking an authentic study abroad experience. Located along Spain's breathtaking northern coastline with the Picos de Europa mountain range as its backdrop.

Locations
Europe » Spain » Toledo
Europe » Spain » Seville
Europe » Spain » Santander
Europe » Spain » San Sebastián
Europe » Spain » Malaga
Europe » Spain » Madrid
Europe » Spain » Granada
Europe » Spain » Cadiz
Europe » Spain » Bilbao
Europe » Spain » Barcelona
Europe » Spain
Program Categories
Length
1-2 Weeks
1-3 Months
1-3 Months
Timeframe
Academic Year
Spring
Summer
Accommodation
Apartment
Guesthouse
Host Family
Hostel
Hotel
Hostel
Language
Spanish
Starting Price
$2,000.00
Currency
USD
Cost Description
Please see website for exact tuition and dates.
Madrid Experience Add-On Program available!

Questions & Answers

Even if you know Spanish, there is so much more to gain from studying abroad. For example, you can experience a new culture, make lifelong friends and connections, and experience new things. Moreover, even if you are fluent, you will definitely learn new words and phrases that are specific to a different country, which can really improve your vocabulary. I would definitely recommend still going ab...
So I only studied in San Sebastián which means I can only speak to that, but it was an incredible experience. There's always something to do no matter what time of day or night and the food is incredible. There are three different beaches that you can walk or run along all day. I felt very safe the entire time and loved all of the people in the city!
I think it is good for you no matter what. Knowing the language well helps a lot, but if you just know the basics you will still be fine. Not everyone was advanced, yet they still improved a lot. It's a wonderful experience.

Program Reviews

  • Growth
    92%
  • Support
    97%
  • Fun
    96%
  • Housing
    96%
  • Safety
    97%

Program Reviews (27)

Brianna
Female
16 years old
Dallas, TX
Other

My Summer Trip To San Sebastián

10/10

My summer trip to San Sebastián, Spain was one of the greatest things I've ever experienced. The city itself is small enough where one doesn't get lost, but at the same time big enough where you never run out of things to do. Another thing I loved about this trip is the interactions with the local spanish people. Whenever I'd walk into a store or restaurant, I was greeted in spanish and forced to use my spanish in real world experiences. Now, I am much better and listening, understanding, and speaking the language more than I would have ever imagined. Lastly, the experience was one of a lifetime. On the two week trip, I met tons of amazing people from all around the world and overall fell in love with the culture and country. Everyday I yearn to go back and live it all over again and highly recommend this program for any high school student hoping to be awed by their world.

Phoebe
Female
18 years old
Lusaka Province Lusaka, Zambia
Other

SPI, I Found The Overall Experience Immensely Rewarding

10/10

Initially hesitant, my friend and I stepped off the plane and out of the airport in Madrid, and then traveled to San Sebastian, not exactly sure what to expect, it took my friend and I a little time to adjust. Being the only students in the program at that time who were neither American citizens nor studying in America, the experience was initially a little overwhelming. After all, being fairly well-traveled students, living in Africa, and attending a widely diverse International School, it was a little overwhelming to, for once in a long time, feel like a foreigner. However, in hindsight this feels a little silly, because, despite our natural quietness, and after awkward first interactions melted away, the positive encouragement and friendliness we encountered was very warm and comforting. I even recall being rather suitably dubbed as 'Las timidas', or 'Las tranquilas'! Even though we took a little while to get settled, I found the overall experience immensely rewarding. A mile or so from the beach, and within a fair walking distance of some of the main plazas, he location was utterly stunning and buzzing with life and vibrancy. The classes both interactive and entertaining, there was a healthy balance between attending the school and exploring the culturally rich cities. The experience was a wonderful and utterly raw immersion into the heart of San Sebastian. Seize every opportunity you have to explore this wonderful location, and dive head first into the fusion of lessons and culture.

Grace
Male
18 years old
Camarillo, California
Other

My Experience In San Sebastián

10/10

My experience in San Sebastián was better than I could have ever imagined. My host family was really sweet and helped me improve my Spanish speaking skills. My teachers at Lacunza Language school were phenomenal and truly made coming to school fun. My favorite experience was going to Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. We had the ability to experience a cultural traditional and truly be involved in it. My time abroad introduced me to lifelong friends and increased my confidence and independence away from home.

Jacqueline
Female
17 years old
Dallas, TX
Other

I Spent In Spain Were Some Of The Best Days Of My Life.

10/10

The two and a half weeks I spent in Spain were some of the best days of my life. In my opinion, the most impactful part of this program was how you didn't feel like a tourist or outsider but instead a part of the community. In most immersion programs you still feel like an outsider, but after a few days I felt connected to the town. I believe the freedom in the afternoons and evenings was a large part of this because it forces you to figure the dialect, people, and town out. I also enjoyed the provided activities because they helped you embrace all parts of the town. I would highly recommend going if you have the chance too, it will change your life.

Annie
Female
18 years old
New Jersey

Life-changing In A Good Way

10/10

Honestly, going into the program I had extremely high expectations because I had found the program a year before going and was mentally preparing and building up the experience of the entire year. It seemed almost impossible for the program to meet my expectations, but it did and went even further. Two days in I was hysterically texting my moms how thankful I was for them letting me go on the program. I always had something to be doing, and I made close life-long friends. My roommate and I used to joke that SPI had psychic abilities because of how amazing we were as a pair. We became best friends very quickly and loved spending time together, we complemented each other perfectly. As for housing and safety, our homestay was perfect, the woman had a daughter our age who we became incredibly close with. We speak many nights sitting and talking, all in Spanish, and she taught us how to cook many Spanish dishes! As for safety, it was my first time out of my origin country and I was really nervous but the program took such good care of me that I forgot my worries the second I met the staff in the airport. Besides being a safe town, San Sebástian is gorgeous and has so many things to do like climb the mountains, go to the beach or get food in La Parte Vieja. All in all, I recommend this program strongly because I loved it so much I'm going back next year for double the time!

How can this program be improved?

There were some unforseen housing issues but they were very rare but the staff handled it very well, if only a bit delayed response.

Amber
Female
19 years old
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Other

It was amazing!

10/10

I absolutely love it in Spain! I loved SPI, I loved my homestay, I loved everything about my trip. There was nothing at all that I would want to improve about my trip because everything was already perfect. I can not wait until I get to go back to Spain. I've already told my parents that I would take them back to where I stayed and show them everything that I learned because I'm so excited that I got to go there. I want to tell everyone about it!

How can this program be improved?

I honestly don't know that I would improve anything! I absolutely loved the program and the people. But if there was anything that I would want to improve it would be the plane rides. Me and many others in my group had never been on a plane before, much less traveled that far. The programs directors were amazing but I wish they would've prepared first time travelers just a little bit more.

Sarah
Female
18 years old
Albany, Georgia
Other

My Experience

10/10

My experience with SPI Study Abroad in San Sebastián, Spain was incredible. It has made me who I am today. I use to be very shy and wouldn't open up much around new people. While in Spain that totally changed. I made so many amazing friends that I am still in contact with today. I loved it so much I'm going back this summer, and this time with my best friend! Now I am very outgoing and I rarely ever get shy or nervous around new people! My abilities with the language has also grown, and my love for it also!

How can this program be improved?

Only the first day I was too tired to walk around so much on the Madrid extension.

Hunter
Male
18 years old
Somis, California
Other

Trip of a Lifetime

10/10

This past summer, I went to Spain with a vague idea of what my experience would be like, and by the end of the trip, my mind had been blown. The people you meet, places you see, and the strengthening of your skills in the Spanish language are amazing, and I know that for all the people I met through the program and I, will never forget these amazing memories. This program changed my life forever, and the bonds that you make and keep with people from all over the world is amazing. If you are unsure whether the price and time away from home and free WiFi is worth it, I can promise you that it totally is.

How can this program be improved?

Expand the curfew so that people are able to experience as much of Spain or any other country as possible, so as to expand their knowledge and enjoyment of the culture.

Mark
Male
44 years old
San DIego, CA
California State University- Chico

What a Great Program!

10/10

SPI Study Abroad program is second to none! Language immersion, cultural exposure, and diversity of local events made for a fantastic experience for the students as well as teacher travelers! I highly recommend SPI to all students and teachers that are interested in summer study abroad programs.

How can this program be improved?

Allow for more beach time and include an optional day trip to San Fermines in Pamplona on July 7.

Margaret
Female
42 years old
United States

Notes from a teacher and a mom: Thumbs way up for SPI!

10/10

The trip to San Sebastian was incredible. First off, San Sebastian is absolutely stunning. I've traveled extensively and this city is a jewel in Europe. It's also the perfect size for a high school study abroad program. It's small but there's tons to do and the city is compact. It's safe and clean too.
This was my third trip with SPI Abroad as a teacher traveler. I went to Santander and Costa Rica as well. The families were very caring and well-screened. They really did want to help the kids learn the language. The teachers at the language school kept the learning relevant, interactive, and fun. The extracurricular activities were engaging. Several of my students are going back because they said the trip was "life-changing", I enjoyed seeing the students become more self-aware, independent.
As a mother and an educator, I feel very comfortable promoting this program.

How can this program be improved?

Two weeks felt short. Students who stayed for an extra week or for both sessions benefited tremendously from the extra exposure to the language and the opportunity to keep learning.

Matt
Male
19 years old
Albany, GA

SPI Spain was a life-changing and unforgettable experience!

10/10

A typical day during the SPI Spain, San Sebastian program for me and my roommates began with our homestay Maria serving us our breakfast., almost always containing the extraordinary marmalade of Spain. Then, we would gather our notebooks and other belongings and make the short walk to school. Since the school was only two or three blocks away from our apartment, sometimes we would have enough time to drop in the cafe next door to Tandem and grab a quick cafe con leche. At school, we would briefly review known vocabulary or watch a cooking show and pick out the terms we had reviewed. On top of vocabulary, we also were taught many cultural distinctions of the area and regional slang and dialect that we might encounter on the streets of San Sebastian. After school, we would either return to our homestay to eat lunch, or we would carry our sack lunches to the beach and have a picnic on the beach. For the next couple of hours, we would either swim in the ocean or shop around town or hang out with our new friends. At around 4 o'clock we would meet as a whole program group in a park to gather before starting the afternoon activities. These included activities from surfing to climbing Monte Urgull or Monte Igueldo to cooking classes to tours of the city to excursions to surrounding communities--all of which were extremely fun and memorable. After our activities we would usually return to our apartments for dinners and showers. On Thursday nights, our homestay would take us to a local restaurant for Pintxo Pote, a night dedicated to price specials in our neighborhood (Gros) on an incredible cuisine of the Basque region--pintxos. After dinner, we would sometimes meet up with our classmates for a trip to a gelateria or pastry shop for dessert, and we would often spend time on the beach at night playing games and talking or strolling down the Boulevard and conversing with local teenagers about life in San Sebastian until our curfew--which, coinciding with Spanish culture, was considerably late--was drawing near. That night, our homestay would make sure we were comfortable and happy, ask about our day, and collect our laundry. Then, the cycle would start over, and the next exciting day would begin!

My favorite parts of the trip were not only the amazing sights we saw and activities that we did but also the experience and friends that will last a lifetime. Of course, I will always love the views from Monte Igueldo and the adrenaline rush from standing on a surfboard for the first time, but with help from SPI, I now have lifelong friends from across the country that I can count on and visit for years to come! My finesse as a Spanish speaker increased dramatically after my study abroad program. The lessons in school certainly nurtured my abilities, but everyday life in a rich culture developed my Spanish equally if not more. Simple, impromptu conversations with my homestay, my guides, or even the gelateria employees assisted in my full understanding and love of the Spanish language. Before my program, Spanish was just another class that I had to take in my packed high school curriculum, but now I see it as a living language and culture that is more interested than ever before. SPI has allowed me to see the true greatness of the Spanish language through my program in San Sebastian, and those three weeks in Spain are sure to maintain the title of my favorite trip for a very long time.

Lucy
Female
19 years old
Dallas, Texas

Definitely Going Back!

10/10

When I first got to my home stay I was extremely nervous. What had I done! I was now stuck in a foreign country with little confidence in using the language. Looking back, I realize that although my fears were valid, I had nothing to worry about.
The program is extremely organized. After meeting my home stay, attending the first day of school, and walking around San Sebastián everything fell into place. The town is rich with Spanish culture from unique shops in La Parte Vieja to an amazing display of cuisine, from pinxtos to fresh seafood to decadent desserts.
If you love the Spanish language and want to expand your skills and experience the language's homeland, this is the trip for you.

How can this program be improved?

If I could change one thing about my trip, I would have doubled the amount of time I was there!

Gabriel
Male
19 years old
Plano, Texas
Other

Amazing trip!!!

10/10

San Sebastian, Spain was one of the best times of my life. I made new friends and memories I will never forget! It not only helped me grow as a person but also as a spanish speaker! I will never forget this amazing trip!

How can this program be improved?

I would of liked to have a little more time to sleep because there were points during the trip in which I was exhausted from the going out to the school in the morning.

Chris
Male
19 years old
Dallas, Texas

Best Summer Ever

10/10

Going to San Sebastian was an awesome idea. I bonded with my friends from school and made new friends. Being able to speak the language and experience the culture helped me improve my Spanish because my homestay did not speak any English at all. It is such a great and safe beach town in Spain, and the directors are really friendly. The classes and teachers are great. There is so much to do in San Sebastian that my two weeks in Spain was the best week of my life. I would do anything to go back.

Kelli
Female
32 years old
Midland, TX
Texas Christian University

Was an amazing experience in 2006!

10/10

I studied with SPI in San Sebastian in 2006. It was an incredible experience! I still keep in contact with a lot of the people I met, including my homestay family, Maritxu and Valentin. I highly recommend studying abroad with SPI programs because they really do offer well-rounded opportunities with lots of chances to use your language. I participated in the Siena, Italy program in 2007 too!

Eli
Male
19 years old
Santa Cruz, California

A Month I'll Never Forget for the Rest of my Life

10/10

It's difficult to sum up my comments on this experience in a short paragraph, considering I could probably write a book about it. The other reviews give plentiful descriptions of the program's day-to-day experiences, so I'll try to take mine in a different direction.
This experience takes you way out of your comfort in so many ways, from your home-stay to the cultural immersion, and everything in between. I had never been out of North America before this trip, and this experience taught me that I want to spend a lot of my life traveling the world, meeting new people, and putting myself more and more out of my comfort zone. We all do so much to increase monotony in our daily lives, so do yourself a favor, and have an adventure so far out of the ordinary that you will never forget for the rest of your vida!!!

How can this program be improved?

Wasn't a big deal, but a later curfew would've been nice, for the same reason another participant said, that the city seemed quite safe. But, in the larger spectrum of the trip, it wasn't a big deal at all.

Becca
Female
19 years old
Dallas, TX
Northwestern University

Such an amazing experience!

10/10

The San Sebastian program was absolutely incredible! Staying with a host family was so interesting and such a cultural immersion! My Spanish improved immensely, and having to navigate around the city taught me to be independent and responsible. Would go back in a heartbeat!

How can this program be improved?

If I had to change one thing, I would like to have had cultural excursions right after school ended, so that the students had to rest of the day/evening to explore and walk around.

Landry
Male
19 years old
Austin,Texas

My Experience

10/10

The month I spent in Santander was probably one of the best times I've ever had. I made a lot of new friends from all around world. And, they weren't just kids in the program but people I'd meet at the local market or walking around the city. In class we had fun group activities that even I could participate in. My Spanish wasn't very good to begin with but now I can actually hold a conversation. The teachers were awesome. They were relaxed and made class interesting while we learned Spanish. Safety was never an issue in Santander. All the people were very kind. I would walk and take the bus everywhere and never had any troubles. Our director Valerie always had cool excursions planned for us like surf lessons, famous museums, trips to other cities, and my favorite the Picos de Europa. I hope to go back next year and highly recommend anyone reading this to go.

How can this program be improved?

I can't think of anything I would change about this program. I had an amazing experience

Sarah
Female
19 years old
Massachusetts

A Once in a Lifetime Experience

9/10

I wish I could of stayed with my host family forever. They were the most welcoming and friendly people I have ever met. They would not criticize your spanish but laugh with you and help correct along the way. That was one of the best and most helpful parts for me!
Also, the SPI program does a great job of allowing you to experience all the city has to offer. In school we went on a scavenger hunt around town to learn our way around by asking strangers questions in Spanish. Everyday SPI had some sort of activity such as, the aquarium, taking a boat ride to the island in La Concha beach, surfing, Churros and Chocolate, small games on the beach, etc.
If you are looking for a program to immerse yourself in Spanish, meet life long friends, have a host family experience, and have fun during the summer, this is the program for you!

How can this program be improved?

A later curfew because the town is extremely safe.

Caleb
Male
19 years old
Austin, Texas

A Fantastic Experience

9/10

Overall, this was a fantastic experience! I made many new friends and had a great time! We were able to visit many interesting tourist sites while learning about the Spanish culture and practicing our speaking skills. As far as the educational experience goes, my knowledge of the language and culture greatly increased over the course of the two weeks. I couldn't recommend this program more!

How can this program be improved?

I would allow for more free time rather than required group outings.

About The Provider

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SPI Study Abroad offers high school language immersion, volunteer service, and cultural leadership summer programs in Spain, France, Italy, Costa Rica, Mexico, and China.

The five essential elements of SPI programs include total language immersion, college credit courses, homestay experience, cultural excursions and activities, and

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