SAI Programs - Inspiring Creativity

SAI Programs


With headquarters located just north of San Francisco, SAI Programs was founded in 1995 to serve as the US admissions office for an Italian art institute in Florence. Since that time, SAI has expanded into a full-service international education organization, working with partner schools throughout Italy and beyond. SAI currently works in close collaboration with partner institutions in Milan, Florence, Siena, Rome, Sorrento, Sicily, London, Paris, and Barcelona.

SAI is dedicated to providing academic and cultural learning experiences for students abroad that enhance global awareness, professional development and social responsibility. SAI's international partner schools offer a wide range of academic disciplines, with special emphasis on providing cutting-edge Fine Art and Design education. SAI also specializes in offering genuine cultural access to its host cities; opportunities include excursions, volunteer opportunities, and language exchanges.


7160 Keating Ave
Sebastopol, CA 95472
United States


Yes, I recommend this program

I studied at ELISAVA in Spring of 2019 and it is definitely worth your time and money. Don't be fooled into thinking this school will be easier than your home university though. ELISAVA is a world renown design school and their teaching staff are a good example of why. You can really make some great connections a learn a lot (don't worry you can still travel on the weekends). My SAI program coordinators were there to answer any questions at all steps of the process and our excursions/trips were so fun. Barcelona is a city that has a lot going on and it can be a really fun place to be. You'll get tons of advice on what things to see and food to try and meet a lot of people from all over the world. There is so much to love about the program it cannot be put into a small review.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Most of southern Europe (Barcelona in particular) have these bazaars all over. They are the equivalent to dollar stores and they are a cheap resource for any house supplies or school supplies you might need. It saved me so much money.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I wouId HIGHLY recommend SAI Programs to study abroad with. The program staff is extremely friendly and helpful. They helped me schedule several doctors appointments, and even went to the police station with me when my phone was stolen to help me retrieve it, which I greatly appreciated because my Spanish isn't very good. They excursions provided by the program are very well organized and SUPER fun. The staff are also very good at getting to know each student and really make sure each of us are safe, happy, and having a good time. I am positive that my study abroad experience would have been much harder and no where near as enjoyable without the SAI staff at my side. If you want to study abroad (which you should because its awesome!!) then DEFINITELY check SAI Programs, and consider Barcelona as your destination!!

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Yes, I recommend this program

Choosing to study abroad in Florence, Italy with SAI was the best decisions I have ever made. The on-site support staff was unbelievable. They were the most prepared, organized, and genuinely caring individuals that I have ever met and my experience wouldn't have been the same without them. They seemed to know what I needed before I could even ask for it. They were always there for support but didn't hover so that you could make your experience your own. They always had free or paid activities going on that you had the option to participate it. They kept us updated on local and home information via email and the facebook page. Florence in the most beautiful city and FUA is a good school. I highly recommend this program to individuals who love travel, adventure, food, and a life time of memories.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would stay for an entire year instead of just a semester.
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Yes, I recommend this program

SAI Programs was the best!!! They were such a great help and amazing resource while I was there. They also planned incredible trips and activities for us that I would never have done otherwise. They were all super friendly and knowledgeable about Florence and utilized that all the time. I would go into their office just to say hello, work on a puzzle, or even ask them for recommendations for places to eat or where to buy certain things from I cannot sing enough praises for the Florence SAI staff.

Florence on it's own was my favorite city as well. It's full of such rich history, culture, art, and food, making it the perfect destination for anyone. There's always so much to do in Florence whether it's visiting world-renowned museums, going for a walk and grabbing gelato, eating amazing pizza on the steps of a historic church, listening to live music on Ponte Vecchio, or going to a bar with friends to grab an aperol spritz. Florence has a great social scene

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. But, it was cool to learn new things about myself. 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. I would study abroad again in a heartbeat.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I tried truffle while I was in Italy, which is basically a fancy mushroom that's really expensive, and I had never had it before because it's not common in the states like it is in Italy. I absolutely fell in love with it. Every time I would go out to eat I would scour the menu for anything with truffle and would usually get it too. I just think this proves that you shouldn't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and try new things because you never know what you might find out.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I had the best four months of my life, thanks to SAI! I was so nervous to leave the country and my family for that long, going so far away, but SAI was so helpful and welcoming every step of the way. I never once felt like I was on my own. By choosing SAI, the door was opened to so many different opportunities. They offered cooking classes, bookmaking classes, language classes, city tours, weekend trips, and so much more all included in your program cost. They did everything they could to help us dive into the culture and feel at home in our host country. I enjoyed my time with SAI so much that I decided to become a student ambassador for SAI on my home campus at Ole Miss in hopes to help students have the same experience that I did! They continue to provide me with opportunities to succeed even a year after my semester abroad. I highly recommend this program because they strive to make your experience the best it could possibly be for you. They want the best for you and it truly shows through every employee in the program!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If I could do that semester all over again I would pack less and worry less. I definitely over packed when I went over, and I also feel like I stressed way to much about what could go wrong, rather than living in the moment every chance I got. I learned so much about traveling as well as about myself as a person through this experience. There really aren't many things I would change.


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Alumni Interviews

Alumni interviews 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

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

Lindsay Arentz

Job Title
Admissions Counselor

What is your favorite travel memory?

One of my most memorable travel memories was when my friends and I zip-lined through the rainforest in Costa Rica. I'll never forget enjoying gallo pinto after working up an appetite!

I also really enjoyed the my time in Slovenia. Slovenia is a country in Europe largely overlooked by many, but its landscape was spectacular.

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

It has been really inspiring to track students' careers throughout the years. Having previously worked onsite in our Florence office and now working stateside in California has been an incredible way to grow both professionally and personally.

Two former students whose careers stand out are those of a menswear designer in New York City and a curiosity shop owner in Pennsylvania.

To follow these students paths from young, curious, study abroad students and artists to working professionals who have pursued their dreams is truly inspiring!

For artists to draw on study abroad experience and translate their semesters abroad into a successful career is motivating. Everyone can take something from the home of the Renaissance. Whether you are an artist or not, there is truly something for everyone.

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

I would love to attend our summer program at Syracuse Academy in Sicily. Everything about this program is appealing. I mean, who wouldn't want to attend school on an island in the Mediterranean Sea?

The school's location, the courses offered, and the overall feel of this seaside town is truly enchanting!

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

The fact that SAI Programs is an Italian-American, family-owned business is especially unique. Also, most of the staff has either lived or traveled extensively in Italy.

I truly enjoy going to work each day. We have a really tight-knit staff, all throughout the U.S and Europe.

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Professional Associations

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