SAI Study Abroad - Inspiring Creativity

SAI Programs


Since 1995, SAI 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.

New refund & cancelation policies!

We’ve updated our refund & cancelation policy to allow for flexible booking due to COVID-19


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Yes, I recommend this program

Florence, unknowingly, was the perfect place for me-- the art, the city size, the feeling, the atmosphere. I dream daily about the food (particularly gluten-free pastries), the peaceful river at night, happening upon street musicians, and my big, beautiful apartment windows.SAI was also very helpful and provided a great program. They set up our housing, health insurance, different events and excursions (book-making workshop, cooking class, day trips to Siena, Lucca, etc.). Even in the chaos and unknowns of the beginning of the pandemic, the on-site staff was sweet, competent, and as helpful as they could be. They made the arrival process easy and made sure we were introduced to our new city through an orientation and a magnificent dinner in a palace on our first night. Having gotten cut short because of corona, I sometimes think about going abroad again and I think I would want to experience the full thing, because it seems like it would've been fantastic beyond my wildest imagination (even more than it already was).

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't try to be Italian, you're not going to pass as a local no matter what. Now don't take this to mean you should be obnoxious Americans or not try to learn and respect the local culture. I say this because I tried way too hard to pack clothing that I thought would look Italian and I ended up with a bunch of clothing I didn't wear because it was too fancy and not something I wanted to put on everyday. You'll save yourself stress/time/money if you are realistic about what you'll wear. Definitely do bring a couple of nicer outfits though, because while you won't look Italian, you might feel weird just wearing leggings everyday (it is not something people there do). If you go in the Spring, be aware that the first month or two is actually pretty cold and you will want more than one sweater/sweatpants to wear around your apartment.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Although my semester got cut short to two weeks, I had the best time in Milan! From the beginning, SAI and the onsite staff in Milan were supportive, welcoming, and knowledgeable on topics of visas to best pizza restaurants. Within the short time I was abroad, I met and made friendships with many other students in my program and locals that attended my University. SAI and Cattolica were supportive throughout the semester of online courses and provided resources to immerse ourselves in Italian culture virtually. The courses I took at UCSC were relevant to my major and were unique compared to traditional lectures since each week we toured a business or museum relating to the topic.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I encourage all students to take the Italian language course. I had very little prior experience with Italian, however, I was able to communicate at the grocery store and cafes with locals in Italian!
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Yes, I recommend this program

I have no regrets about choosing this program and would be quick to recommend it to a friend. SAI offered great support and amenities. My apartment was fully stocked with everything I needed. Kitchen gear, linens, etc. and maintenance requests were always met promptly. Expect living differences based on culture and routines. Wifi can be spotty. The location of my apartment was well thought out and close to my university and metro. I attended the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in their study abroad building which was in the middle of the city. I wasn't fully aware that it was the study abroad sect of the school, so my classes were not with local students. Most of my classes were with young adults from the States. My professors were engaging and kind. I enjoyed all of my courses, from political science to art history.
SAI's Barcelona office / team was amazing and I felt safe and comfortable with the staff. They were our friends and immediate support system. We took a weekend trip to Sevilla and activities were provided almost every week (like cooking classes, hikes, and museum visits). I also was able to volunteer at a local school and work with third graders in their art class. Volunteer opportunities are always available to go along with your courses. SAI encourages each student to be independent and explore on their own but is there for any need, at every step of the way. From the application process to our farewell, I trusted SAI with all of my questions and concerns. I made fantastic friends and memories and my study abroad experience was truly so great due to SAI.

What was your funniest moment?
The SAI staff hosted a hike up to "The Bunkers" which is a mountain top view of the city and coast and the whole time we giggled and shared stories. This was a great opportunity to make friends and feel like a local.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I had an amazing time! I would have ever thought that I would be able to hace the expirence of going abroad. A big plus was that it was really affordable! The people, the sites, and all the extra little things I did made this so amazing. I was very nervous just like anyone else would be, but once I got there and was comfortable with my new home. I did amazing. Even if studying for school is not your thing check out their internship programs. My roommate did that and had a blast! Barcelona will forever be a small part of home!

What was your funniest moment?
I think it would have to be when my friends and I went to Venice, Italy on a 3 day weekend!
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Yes, I recommend this program

Studying abroad with SAI is the best decision that I've ever made. SAI helped me throughout the entire process, from pre-departure, while in Rome, having to come home in the middle of the semester due to COVID-19, and afterward. SAI provides you with a ton of resources to make the process of applying for visas, booking flights, and obtaining a permit to stay as easy as possible. While in Rome, SAI gave us many opportunities to get to know the other students in the program and learn more about the city and country that we were staying in. The amount of students was perfect because there was a small enough group to where we all knew each other's faces but a large enough group to where we could meet new people and have different friend groups. COVID-19 put a huge amount of stress on the students in the program, but the on-site staff helped us through the entire process by providing assistance in arranging flights and reassuring us and giving us kind words throughout the entire process. SAI made the difficult (but responsible and correct) decision to send all students home when some universities did not make the decision for themselves. When I arrived home, SAI staff reached out to make sure that I had settled back into life in the United States and worked to provide us with as much of a refund from the time that we had to leave early. I loved every moment that I got to spend in Rome and without SAI I would not have been able to enjoy my experience as much as I did.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
The most nerve-racking moment was when I first arrived in Rome. Rome is a huge city and the airport was so big. I instantly felt at ease when an SAI staff member greeted me outside of the terminal and led me to where I ended up meeting the most amazing people who would change my life forever!


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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.

Anna Smith

Job Title
Admissions Counselor
Anna grew up in wine country, California. During her studies at UC Davis, she interned abroad in Nicaragua and Malaysia, then studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Anna found her home at SAI about a year ago and has been working in Admissions ever since.

What is your favorite travel memory?

I was traveling solo through Spain, Malta, and Italy after I completed a semester abroad in Denmark. While in Bergamo, Italy, I became aware that I had forgotten to print my final plane ticket. Since I was traveling with a budget airline, I had to have it printed before arriving at the airport, or else I’d be, charged 50 euro (which I definitely did not have!).

I spent an entire day on the hunt for a public printer, armed with sheer determination and nearly non-existent language skills. Each person I encountered got me a little closer to my goal and I eventually end up at a public university in Citta Alta. I technically wasn’t allowed to print there without a school ID, but a kind student overheard my troubles and offered to use their ID to get me onto a computer.

The experience was nerve-wracking and frustrating while it was happening, but the end result and my later reflection have reinforced one of the key lessons from my travels: that humans are inherently good and most will help each other, given the opportunity.

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

SAI has allowed me to sharpen my skills across so many disciplines! From communication to data analysis, I’ve had the great pleasure of interacting with many facets of the company.

I’ve also learned a great deal about the study abroad industry. Coming from a “volunteer abroad” background, I really didn’t know much about study abroad outside of my personal experience. I feel so privileged to be learning from my fabulous colleagues at SAI in an environment that fosters growth.

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

I’ve heard this story a couple of times and I feel so excited each time I do: students that feel so connected to their host city, and loved their academic experiences so much that they decide to return to their host school for their masters.

It’s not for everyone, but it feels wonderful to have been a part of that student’s journey in finding their place in the world. If they had never studied abroad, they wouldn’t have known!

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

That’s so difficult – I want to do them all!

If I had to choose one, it would be our program at Sant’Anna Institute in Sorrento. The town itself is gorgeous and the historic campus building has been recently renovated, giving students a mix of traditional and modern.

The courses at Sant’Anna Institute are filled with field learning – what other marine bio class takes you snorkeling in the Mediterranean? They firmly believe in learning by doing, which sounds much better than sitting in the lecture hall!

The other draw to Sorrento, for me, is their credit-bearing internship program. When I was in school, I was constantly looking for internship opportunities to gain real, professional experience, and I would have loved to find one that also offers academic credit. It’s a really great way to accomplish two goals at once!

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

Our team is unique in that we are small but mighty! Each person goes above and beyond in their role to make sure we are able to deliver the best possible experiences to our students. It makes our jobs so much easier knowing that everyone is working towards the good of the whole.

The genuine care from our staff easily translates into our interactions with students – they know that we are here for them and their families every step of the way! I feel especially proud anytime we receive positive feedback, whether it is flowers, a card, or just a kind email.

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

I believe SAI is successful because we are intentional in our programs. We carefully select our locations and partner schools, allowing us to become fluent in all aspects of our programs.

Each program has a specific Admissions Counselor that intimately understands the ins and outs of their program. This helps so much when speaking with students and parents, as we are all “experts” in our own areas.

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