SAI Programs - Inspiring Creativity

SAI Programs

About

Since 1995, SAI Programs has provided students with exceptional cultural and educational experiences abroad, offering the opportunity to enroll in some of the finest schools available to English speaking students in Europe. SAI is dedicated to providing academic and cultural learning experiences abroad that enhance global awareness, professional development and social responsibility. By encouraging students to explore the complex intersections between self, community, and creativity, SAI aims to provide an inspiring and transformative experience. All of SAI’s services, in the U.S. and overseas, are geared toward ensuring student safety and maximizing the student experience; both in terms of providing a framework for academic inquiry, and offering each student opportunities for personal growth and development.

Founded
1995
Headquarters

7160 Keating Ave
Sebastopol, CA 95472
United States

Reviews

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Theresa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I studied abroad for an entire semester in Rome through SAI and it was undoubtedly the best experience I've had in my life. I ate some incredible food, witnessed incredible places, met and connected with people who have changed my life, and learned much about myself. It was a semester of self-exploration and global-exploration! I have come back to the States as a culturally competent and well-rounded person who is able to adapt to situations. I became close friends with Alessandra and Jordan, the coordinators from SAI, and I truly enjoyed their company and learning from them. During my time abroad, I pursued the Global Leadership Certificate SAI offers which has supplemented my resume.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I wish I learned the language more before I traveled to my host country! For me, I find joy in adapting to new cultures and connecting with others of different personalities and backgrounds. With that being said, I recommend learning the basics of the language of whatever country you are studying in/traveling to! Saying basic phrases such as “hello,” “how are you,” and “thank you,” in the local language allows you to dip your toes in the country’s culture and is often appreciated by the locals and workers. As a tourist and visitor, rather than trying to expect the locals to accommodate to you by speaking English, I encourage you to respect their culture and make an effort to interact with people such as waiters, cashiers, and taxi drivers in the local language!
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Arianna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I learned a lot about myself as a person, which I was not expecting because I thought I was pretty in touch with who I was. I also feel like I gained a lot of cultural capital as well because I've visited, seen, and learned about all these amazing things, like art and culture, that I had only ever dreamed of. Traveling while I was abroad was one of the biggest highlights and something that I would recommend for all study abroad students. It gives you he chance to see things that you had only ever hoped of seeing and doing. But don't forget to get to know your own host country, especially Italy where there so much to do and see just in the country. Because the professor and school were understanding that study abroad students were there to do more than just school, the workload was lighter, giving everyone the opportunity to be pursue and do things beyond school, like traveling. I can't advocate for study abroad enough, especially SAI who made the experience even better by being such a resource in a new place where I didn't know a lot of things.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I planned a trip with my friends to Prague for our last weekend before finals. However, once I got there, I realized I forgot my passport at my apartment and ended not being able to go to Prague. Long story short, always double check you have your passport when traveling!
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Alayna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved studying abroad in Barcelona with SAI. I was able to travel every weekend and learned about the local culture of Barcelona through the help of my SAI program advisors. I made great friends who live around the US and around the world that I am able to keep in contact with to this day. Studying abroad gave me the confidence and independence I needed to improve myself. Money is always difficult to manage but it is manageable if you plan out how you want to spend your money. SAI helped me explore the local culture and go out of my comfort zone to immerse myself and really get the lay of the land. By the end of the program I felt extremely confident in my ability to travel around the world. I would go back again tomorrow if I could! Loved SAI

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would bring more clothes for cooler weather! Other than that I wouldn't change anything.
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Abbey
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had a very memorable and enjoyable experience abroad, studying abroad was something I've wanted to do my whole life so it was very fulfilling to me. I was able to form friendships and explore Europe just as I had hoped. Being this far away from home for so long was understandably nerve wracking at first, but it is an experience I would not trade. Due to living in Paris, there was always something to do, it was particularly helpful having the SAI newsletter that was informative on events and holidays to take part it. My school also had several events throughout the year for its students, this is a good way for international students to meet people. Overall, I had a great study abroad experience, and it allowed me to gained a sense of independence.

What would you improve about this program?
More assistance regarding obtaining a visa prior to departure
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Erica
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had the most amazing semester studying in Barcelona, Spain. The SAI program I did organized many activities and trips for the students in my program. We did a cooking class, many dinners, trips to Monseratt, Girona, Sevilla, and many more. When I wasn't doing things with the SAI program I was traveling on the weekends with other students in my program. I loved living in walking distance from so many amazing restaurants and ancient cathedrals. Getting to use the metro for transportation was very convenient and saved me a lot of money from taxis. The metro made exploring the city a breeze whether it was exploring the mountains or the beach; the city of Barcelona has so much to offer. Overall, I would not change anything about my semester abroad and recommend everyone study abroad.

What would you improve about this program?
having most activities on the weekdays instead of some on the weekends so people traveling could still attend

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Brianna Carter

Brianna Carter is a junior at Appalachian State University studying public relations and criminal justice. She enjoys traveling, photography, poetry, and anything and all things outdoorsy.

Why did you choose this program?

After my first trip abroad once I graduated high school, I knew I definitely wanted to study abroad. I love traveling and how it allows you to open your mind and experience new people and cultures. I get very restless in routines and for me, traveling is a way to escape the mundane and renew my mind, body, and soul. I chose SAI Programs because of all the extra services they provide.

It gave me great comfort, and also to my parents, knowing that there would be people in my host city to help me if I needed it, and to provide me with support. SAI also has excursions included in the program that allow you to experience more of the culture of your host city or country, that you may not be able to experience otherwise. The SAI staff is extremely helpful, kind, and caring, and they really do a great job making sure each student feels welcome and cared for.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My home university advisor was absolutely wonderful. He was willing to walk me through the entire process from filling out my applications, payment deadlines, acquiring my visa, and so on. I must have been in his office over 20 times, and probably e-mailed him more than that. He never acted frustrated with me and my hundreds of questions. He was always very understanding, patient, and always reassured my parents or myself of any concerns.

SAI Programs, as well, was very helpful. I also emailed them many times and talked to them on the phone, and they were very reassuring and willing to assist me with anything I needed. They frequently sent out emails of all of the information I needed to know, and kept me up to date with deadlines. I am forever grateful to my home university advisor and SAI Programs for helping make the study abroad process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Before going abroad, I wish that someone had clued me in on how much traveling I was going to be doing. I wasn't expecting to be going to a different country every weekend prior to departure, and I was definitely not prepared financially. Even though traveling within Europe is a lot cheaper and easier than traveling in the US, it will still add up over time.

My advice would be that, if you are planning to study abroad, especially in Europe, set aside at least $3,000 for traveling expenses. Of course, traveling to different countries isn't something you have to do while abroad, but it is a great opportunity to take advantage of, and to make the most of your time.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average day for me in Barcelona was taking the metro to go to class (which I grew to love: the public transportation system). After class, maybe going out with friends to explore the city; checking out the local markets, hanging out at the beach, or going for tapas or a cafe. Sometimes at night, we would go out to a local bar or club, and have a blast dancing and meeting new people.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was that I was going to be super homesick. Fortunately for me, I found that I am more adaptable than I originally thought, which I believe the SAI staff and the friends I made while abroad helped me discover. Of course I did miss my family and friends back home, but I found that you just have to keep yourself busy and also make sure to check with your family regularly. The good thing about Barcelona however, is there is always something to do and you will never be bored!

Staff Interviews

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

Jennifer Wright

Job Title
Paris Program Coordinator
Jennifer Wright, M.A. in International Relations & Diplomacy, is the Paris Program Coordinator and has been working with SAI programs for the past 4 years. She has more than 9 years of experience working in International Education - helping American undergraduate students transition to living in Paris and understanding French culture.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Definitely my top travel experience and the personal challenge was hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2016. The 7-day high altitude hike tested my limits both physically and emotionally, and at the end filled me with such a feeling of accomplishment and recognition of how fortunate I was to be healthy and have the opportunity to travel to such incredible places such as Tanzania.

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

Working for SAI has allowed me to hone my skills at responding to the needs and expectations of students from all different kinds of backgrounds. Studying abroad not only in a new country, but also in a new language can be daunting for some, and exciting for others.

I've gotten better at understanding and meeting each individual student at their particular comfort level to help them assimilate and get the most out of their experience, no matter where they are at the start of the semester.

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

One of my former students was so heartsick at having to leave France at the end of the semester that, when he moved back to the States, he bought a French bulldog and named him Nicolas (nee-coh-lah). He even started an Instagram account where you can follow Nicolas' activities and French life in the U.S.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would jump at the chance to join our Sicily program! In addition to being in such a beautiful location with access to the blue Mediterranean Sea, it would be great to hike Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe.

Being in a smaller program site would allow for a more personable and genuine local experience.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

SAI Programs is a small personalized organization with a focus on quality over quantity, as we've deliberately kept our program offering limited to three Mediterranean countries: Italy, France, and Spain. Providing quality programs and services across 8 cities while ensuring students have rewarding and unforgettable study abroad experiences is our end goal.

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

Being adaptable is absolutely necessary for being a successful company. If we were still using the same procedures and methods that we used when the company was founded 25 years ago, we would be severely out of date.

Technology has evolved, Millenials have replaced Generation Xers, and students today have somewhat different goals in mind when studying abroad. Being adaptable allows us to respond to the changing times and expectations of students today.

Professional Associations

The Forum on Education Abroad Logo
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