SPI High School Spanish Immersion & Cultural Leadership in Spain

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About

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.

Questions & Answers

Each SPI program has an interactive language course component taught by certified native speakers that hold advanced degrees in teaching foreign students. Students are broken up by skill level (beginner through AP/IB) and classes are held 3-4 hours per day. The language courses focus on developing communication skills by simulating real-life situations through interactive class activities that...
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...
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.

Reviews

97%
based on 27 reviews
  • Growth 9.2
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.6
  • Housing 9.6
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 16 - 27 of 27
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Eli
10/10

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

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Becca
10/10

Such an amazing experience!

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Landry
10/10

My Experience

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
Yes, I recommend this program
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Sarah
9/10

A Once in a Lifetime Experience

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Caleb
9/10

A Fantastic Experience

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Mira
7/10

wonderful trip

I have never traveled by myself before, but from the start, I felt very welcomed by the SPI program heads. I started with the extension and I really loved it. For anyone looking into this program, I highly recommend taking advantage of this. I was able to see more of Madrid and get adjusted to Spanish culture before the other students arrived. The hotels we stayed at were great. They were located in central areas and clean. Unfortunately, I found myself needing a lot of money to operate and have a good time in Madrid, Santander, and everywhere else we traveled. Activities/excursions, some transportation, and some meals needs to be payed for by you. We had many free afternoons to ourselves, and to be honest, we did not know what to do with ourselves. I found myself shopping or sitting in a cafe most of the time. A warning to parents, I went easily through about (with extension) $2000. I could have spent more, but I skipped some of the excursions which you are required to pay for. Besides this, the trip was FANTASTIC! My Spanish is smoother and I find speaking comes much more quickly.

How can this program be improved?
I would keep all students in walking distance to the school. I really did not like having to pay for a bus going and coming back from school to my host family. It is irritating for those who have to pay. Most students were in walking distance.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Ashley
10/10

GO TO SPI SAN SEBASTIAN!

You'll make new friends, eat the best ice cream in the world, have the time of your life, learn more Spanish than you can imagine, the home stays are so sweet, and the the town is gorgeous.

How can this program be improved?
I only wish I had stayed longer.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Renee
9/10

The beaches were just the beginning

SPI Santander provided me with the best summer experience I've ever had. The group of students I went with was fantastic. Valerie Villa is the best coordinator I have ever traveled with, and really enhanced the experience with her knowledge. The itinerary was wonderful and the host family experience was comfortable, loving, and improved my language skills. Having Universidad de Cantabria on my résumé makes me stand out. Whenever I see pictures from my trip to Spain I remember nothing but the most fun three weeks of my life. Maybe a slight exaggeration, but every moment spent in Spain was extremely rewarding.

How can this program be improved?
Interaction with Spanish kids our own age would be very valuable.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jaclyn
9/10

SPI San Sebastián

The program was great, loved the group outings to other cities nearby and exploring San Sebastián itself. I spent our days off basking in the sun on the towns beaches with other girls from the group and had lots of fun meeting new people. The town hosted something every weekend, whether it was a fiesta for the local teenagers that we got invited to or a jazz festival with cool music there was always someplace to be. Our host mom was fabulous and usually prepared us delicious food. If not, there were tons of restaurants around or fruit carts to get more food.

How can this program be improved?
I went for a month, but I wish I could have stayed for longer. Definantly felt like the kids who stayed for only two weeks missed out on a lot of great opportunities.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Lauren
10/10

A Great Experience!

I had an awesome time with SPI! The counselor responsible for us was always reachable, friendly and enthusiastic! Her and I still keep in contact!
The friends I made on this trip will stay with me forever. The program is very good at balancing our free time with planned activities that forced us to see all of the excellent sites Santander and the surrounding areas have to offer.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Janessa
10/10

Trip of a lifetime!!

To this day, my study abroad trip with SPI was the best trip of my life. I felt challenged and enjoyed all the adventures SPI had to offer. Over a year later and I have still kept in touch with my host family and the friends I made that summer. As a student, I learned quite a bit and have since excelled in Spanish classes. In addition, my trip abroad helped me grow as an individual and gave me a taste of what it is like to travel and experience the world on my own. I would recommend this experience to anyone and everyone; it is a life changer.

How can this program be improved?
I was really happy in every aspect of the program.. I cannot think of anything I would change.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Logan
10/10

My experience

I had the most phenomenal experience traveling abroad with SPI. I can't give enough praises to this group for providing me with the wonderful experience. From my tremendous home stay mother to the riveting beaches to the exciting social scene, I was always doing something exciting and new. I would recommend this to anyone who has completed any level of Spanish, as I made friends on who had just completed Spanish 1 and some who completed Spanish 5. Overall, a life-altering experience!

How can this program be improved?
I wish I could have stayed longer! I honestly can't think of a negative experience from my time in San Sebastián.
Yes, I recommend this program

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About SPI Study Abroad

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,...