Edu-Culture Immersion High school study abroad

Edu-Culture Immersion


Edu-Culture Immersion is a Study Abroad organization specializing in programs for US high school students. We offer language programs in France, Spain and Costa Rica, and also offer programs in the US for European students.

What makes ECI different to other companies is that all our programs include a unique host family component where students stay with a volunteer family with teenage children, for at least one week, either as part of our group program, or for the whole period of their stay in Europe for our individual programs.

Our trips run in the summer and are 2 to 6 weeks in length, In addition there is the opportunity to earn university credit, and we also offer scholarships of $500 towards the cost of a program.

Programs are based in both city and beach locations, including Andalusia, the Costa del Sol, the French Alps and the Cote d'azur.



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Yes, I recommend this program

Both of my children have done this program and both had wonderful experiences. My 14-year-old daughter went to San Sebastien last summer and lived with an amazing host family who involved her in all aspects of their lives. My son went through the same program in Granada, Spain the previous summer. He was also 14 at the time. His family was lovely. My son is very into music and got to take Flamenco guitar lessons, which was just incredible! In both cases, the program was flexible with dates, which was very important to us. These have been some of the best experiences of my children’s young lives.

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Yes, I recommend this program

My sixteen-year-old daughter Lauren traveled to San Sebastian, Spain with the Edu-Culture Immersion (ECI) program for two weeks in the summer of 2019. I would highly recommend this program to anyone who is interested in a language immersion program for their child. We chose an immersion program instead of a classroom setting as we were concerned that if she were studying with other English-speaking students that her Spanish would not improve significantly.
She had a wonderful experience. We found the whole process – from the initial inquiry to the application to getting her to her host family to be very smooth and well run. Lauren’s availability to travel was limited by other commitments that summer, and Marie Harris from ECI headquarters worked with that schedule to find a time, location and family that fit our plans. And the experience was exactly what we had hoped for and more. ECI placed her with a lovely family that has two girls roughly her age (one was 16 and the other 18), and with a lovely host mom who has an educational background. The family could not have been more welcoming or inclusive. Lauren is a vegan, and she also has some food allergies, so she presented more of a challenge to feed than the average teenager. Her host family embraced her preferences, and they went out of their way to be accommodating. Through her host family sisters, Lauren met many other teenagers her age while she was in Spain, and she was able to fully participate in the regular life of a Spanish teenager, and to learn about Spanish (and Basque!) culture. Her host mother gave her daily Spanish lessons in addition to the immersion. Lauren’s Spanish improved markedly in just the two weeks that she was there, and the experience gave her a new appreciation and confidence for learning the language. The in-country coordinator (Eva Arrospide) met her (along with the host mom) at the Bilbao airport, checked in regularly on Lauren and the host family, and was very helpful and supportive throughout her stay.
San Sebastian is a strikingly beautiful and safe location, with wonderful beaches, architecture and food, and it’s hard to imagine a better place to spend some time learning another language. I can’t say enough positive things about the program; we feel very fortunate to have found it. Lauren is still in touch with her host family, and we expect that this will be a lasting friendship.

What would you improve about this program?
I can't think of anything that would have made it better. I wish she could have stayed longer!
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Yes, I recommend this program

My daughter had an extremely successful immersion experience last summer for 2.5 weeks in a small village outside of Gap. Growing up in California, but with a French father, she speaks and understands French, but not fluently. The program overall and her host family, in particular, really provided the opportunity for her to improve her French and get a deeper sense for the culture. They welcomed her warmly into their home and organized outings to local towns and activities. Initially, the adjustment was a bit overwhelming for my daughter (jet lag, new people, constant French, etc), but the local team, Roseline and Geraldine, were amazing in their response and care they provided for her. As a parent, I felt very comfortable that my daughter was in good and caring hands and they connected with her to relieve her stress. Once she got a good night's sleep, she was fully engaged with the family and enjoyed every minute. In fact, when she returned home, after "hello", her comment was "I wish I was back in France".

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Yes, I recommend this program

I am leaving this review as the parent of my 16-year old daughter who participated in this program. This was a great experience: ECI is organized, informative, and thorough. My daughter felt safe, was paired with a wonderful exchange family, and improved her Spanish skills greatly. I would recommend this program highly. My daughter's chaperone met her in the Bilbao airport and transported her directly to her exchange family's doorstep. The family was well-prepared to greet my daughter and make her feel comfortable. All 4 members of the family were kind and helpful. This is a really important part of a student exchange: making sure the student and family are compatible. ECI did a really great job with this!

What would you improve about this program?
I also participated in a summer exchange program to Spain when I was 16 (way back in the 1980's). With a different company. My experience getting to my family was much, much different: left in the Madrid train station to fend for myself, waiting 4 hours to board my train to Caceres, not knowing if my family would be there to meet me. My chaperone was totally AWOL. My daughter's experience with ECI couldn't have been more different: she felt safe, her chaperone was wonderful, and her family was ready for her. ECI is wonderful, and I see no room for improvement!
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Yes, I recommend this program

Through ECI, I had the opportunity to live with an amazing family in San Sebastian, Spain. I was placed with a family who had a daughter of similar age, and a brother about a year older. Although I was better placed than some of my peers, I was fortunate enough to be matched to a very caring and understanding family. Speaking little to no English, I was given the opportunity to truly test my Spanish skills as I put them to the test, while simultaneously learning some slang and out of textbook experiences. While staying with my host family, I had the opportunity to integrate myself into my host sisters close knit group of friends; from swimming in the ocean, to card games on the beach and ice cream breaks, I was able to push my language skills to the test as it was my sole mode of communication with them. This experience had a truly amazing impact on my life. Although I did not explicitly write about it on my college app, the lasting affects the trip had on me and the window it opened for me to have other opportunities like volunteering locally, truly changed the individual I am today.


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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Sarah Behm

Job Title
US Leader
Sarah has lived in Spain, Mexico, Australia, Canada and currently resides in California! Her passion for traveling started by studying Spanish in Spain as a teen, which is why she has been leading the ECI Salamanca program for the past three years. Sarah is also an educational consultant conducting youth empowerment trainings all across the United States, Puerto Rico and Guam. Her expertise and enthusiasm for studying abroad make for one great summer in Spain!

woman smiling with appetizer

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory with ECI is the day our group reunites after separating out for a week to stay with our host families. As we join back together to travel south, we all start to share our host family experiences! We all share our favorite memories and laugh about our most embarrassing language learning moments. And, we also realize just how much we had bonded as a group after having been apart for a week. Furthermore, I'm always impressed with how much the students' language abilities have improved after just one week of living with a host family.

Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

I would say that Madrid is the most underrated as it seems to always stand in the shadow of Barcelona. However, after having lived in Madrid for almost two years and having the joy of taking our group to Madrid for four days every summer, most students agree with me that Madrid is absolutely spectacular! Every district has something different to offer and it's as if several small Spanish towns with cultural nuances are what make this city grand! I honestly can't say that any city in Spain is actually overrated! I believe that all cities deserve a visit and if they happen to be heavily rated, then that means that they will most likely get a few more visitors and there is nothing wrong with that!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

For ECI, I believe that we have been successful by offering quality language and cultural activities, but also being flexible to our students' hopes and needs. Every summer we have ended up adjusting the activities in response to requests from the group. For example, last summer was very hot, so we added in several more pool, paddle boating, kayaking, and beach days. Our group also made friends with another study abroad group from Ireland, so we ended up planning a large soccer (football) match on a Sunday afternoon.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I have further deepened my connection and appreciation for the Spanish culture and for the US teen culture. Before working with ECI, I worked for another high school study abroad program in Spain for several years. So, after taking high school students to Spain for the past eight years I have learned what part of the culture the tend to enjoy and what parts that may be surprising. From these observations and conversations, I'm able to better support our students as they immerse themselves in the Spanish culture.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

ECI has high quality support and program structure. With a US leader, local leader, and incredible host family coordinator; the students receive full support for their safety, health, and well-being. Furthermore, the program is very well organized with high quality hotels/dorms, University accredited language courses, engaging cultural activities, and quality volunteer host families! Plus ECI is one of the most well-rounded study abroad programs I've seen in terms of locations, housing, activities and types of traveling. In Spain we go from a big city (Madrid), to a university town (Salamanca), to a northern beach city (San Sebastian), and then to some of the best Southern sites (Seville, Granada, and Nerja). We travel by planes, trains, buses, and metros and stay in hotels, dorms and Spanish homes. The students learn Spanish through language, dance, soccer, art, cooking, horseback, bullfighting lessons, language partner sessions, and living with a host about a full immersion! ECIs high school study abroad program is one of a kind!

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of your current team.

I felt proud when one of students came back to travel with us for a second year in a row! This said a lot about how much she had gained from our program. Plus, she was so motivated to further improve her Spanish after the first summer that she came back almost completely fluent for the second summer! This reminded me just how much our program can further encourage students to take their Spanish to the next level.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Recently one of our students reached out to us that is now in college. She had traveled on one of our France programs. Because of our trip she is now applying for study abroad program at her University and feels that ECI gave her the courage to continue traveling and enhancing her language skills! Other students have similar stories and some have gone back again to visit their host family a second time. These stories keep me going back to Spain every summer!