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SPI Study Abroad

About

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, college credit courses, homestay experience, cultural excursions & activities, and quality on-site leadership and staff. In addition to developing fluency in a language, students who study abroad in high school build cultural awareness, independence, self-confidence and other life-enriching skills that help them gain a competitive edge for college and future job opportunities.

SPI Study Abroad is committed to providing the most personalized service by maintaining smaller group sizes and working closely with students, teachers and families throughout their entire high school study abroad experience.

Founded
1996
Headquarters

11149 Research Blvd. Suite 100
Austin, TX 78759
United States

Reviews

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Sarah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

San Sebastian is truly one of the most beautiful spots in Spain. I went on this trip to Spain with high hopes. Each and every one of those was met. My friend and I were placed with an older women. She was extremely sweet and we looked up to her as a grandmother. We had a few bumps in the road like hot water availablility, but our directors and SPI handled it quickly. The classes taught me so much and the activities helped us to use Spanish in fun settings. I made friends from all over the US and world and now have a grandmother in San Sebastian who I plan to visit again soon.
It was really an incredible and eye-opening experience. I got to improve my spanish-speaking skills while having tons of fun and being in a once-in-a-lifetime environment.

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing. We had the perfect balance of free time and scheduled classes and activities. Loved everything about this
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Deborah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

We were looking for a Spanish Immersion program for our son and found the SPI site via a Google search. After vetting the program on line, calling the office and asking many questions about the program, safety, travel oversight, host family background, and looking everywhere to make sure this program was legitimate and would take good care of our son, he was signed up. BEST program and staff. From the minute he was enrolled, the emails came with information - security protocol, videos of the various airports and their immigration process, language prep suggestions for the kids, roommate and host family information, day to day itinerary, etc.. Our son had an amazing experience. From the minute he was met at the local airport, he was at ease. He enjoyed meeting the other kids, loved his host family, the excursions (especially to Biarritz), the free time to explore San Sebastian, and gaining proficiency in Spanish which has definitely helped him in his Spanish 4 class this year. He still starts many sentences with " when I was in Spain...."

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Jennie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Our son had a fantastic experience. He had just finished his freshman year of high school and we were very hesitant to send him abroad. Everyone at SPI assured us that he would be safe - and he was! I was really happy with all their support over the phone with Megan at the office. She really made me feel comfortable, for which I am forever grateful - otherwise we probably wouldn't have sent him!

Recently he was asked to rate his experience from 1 to 10 by his French teacher. He gave it a 12! As hard as it was to let him go to another country, it was the best thing we could have done for him.

He safely returned to us as a much more mature and confident young man. Thank you so much SPI for the fabulous summer experience in Biarritz. What a wonderful program and city!

What would you improve about this program?
as far as a parent perspective goes, the preparation and on-site support while our kiddos are gone is the most important. SPI provided REALLY thorough help - but maybe they could post more pictures although they did update frequently on blog.
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Gillian
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I went on this program with excitement but also high nerves. SPI really created an amazing program for us to feel comfortable in a country so different from home (US). The group was smaller than I thought it would be, but we ended up bonding very quickly. The 8 of us really connected because of the cultural adaptation we were experiencing. We now consider each other family . I will never forget my Chinese immersion with SPI! Thank you!

What would you improve about this program?
I wish there were more students but in the end it did not matter :)
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Barbara
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

SPI offered a unique and extraordinary combination of a homestay experience in a city that is small enough for students to learn their way around town on their own, along with morning classes taught by excellent teachers and afternoon culture events. A housing problem came up the week before the program began and while I spent the week wondering and worrying, the terrific SPI staff handled the problem and set up the homestay we were counting on. They earned my respect and the highest recommendation for both coming through with an excellent homestay experience as well as for running the overall program with language and culture experiences.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

Alumni Interviews

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

Hannah Stein

Hannah Stein is currently a junior at North Farmington High School in Farmington Hills, Michigan. She is 16 and had been studying Spanish for 4 years before going to Spain with SPI Study Abroad.
students in santander

Why did you decide to study abroad with SPI?

I wanted to become fluent in Spanish again after I forgot when I moved to Michigan from Florida. SPI was the best program my family and I could find and had great reviews from everyone who went.

Do you feel you got a chance to see the city from a local's perspective?

I felt right at home in Santander. By the end of the month I was able to take the bus anywhere, became friends with locals, and knew the city like the back of my hand.

What made this study abroad experience unique and special?

I feel that not knowing anyone before going on this trip made it extra special. I made life long friends that I would have never met otherwise.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Studying abroad helped me get college credits before I even became a junior in high school. It also helped me become fluent in Spanish again which helps me a lot because my entire family speaks Spanish and I also want to study it in college.

What was the best place you visited outside of your study abroad city?

I would say either Los Picos de Europa or Santillana del Mar. Los Picos de Europa was so amazing to hike and some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen. Santillana del Mar was a typical small city in northern Spain with so much history, it was a wonderful experience to visit this city twice.

Staff Interviews

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

Mark Lee Hochberg

Job Title
Program Coordinator
Mark Hochberg is a High School teacher and Football Coach with extensive experience studying abroad.
family photo: man, woman and two small boys

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory has to be my first trip to Spain. Upon arriving in San Sebastian the beach city vibe and foodie culture absolutely felt tailor made to my sensibilities and passions. Being from Southern California the beach felt like home but the Spanish neo-classical architecture of the Parte Vieja, the pintxo restaurants, and the walking tours in the city that make up part of the Camino de Santiago all made the experience of traveling and living abroad a memory that I will cherish forever!

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

I think that the city of Bilbao is the most underrated. It has a reputation of being an industrial city which probably keeps a lot of potential tourists away but upon visiting the city I found the cultural offerings of the Guggenheim Museum to be second to none. The most overrated city is Paris. Long lines at all of the attractions and the food isn't as good as advertised.

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

I believe that the biggest factor in being a successful company is customer service. If a company can deliver what the customer desires on time and within the budget given, then that company will develop of positive reputation. There is no advertisement better than a positive reputation.

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

Since I began working for SPI Abroad, I have deeper appreciation for the hard work that goes into planning for a successful study abroad experience for students. Careful recruitment of highly qualified staff, strategic planning of extra curricular activities that explore the target culture and outstanding customer service are some of the traits that I have focused on developing for the benefit of the students who travel with SPI Abroad.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

SPI Abroad has a verifiable track record of success when it comes to customer satisfaction. Our students and their families benefit from our experience in producing outstanding study abroad programs that focus on target language acquisition, cultural immersion and safe travel experience for their students.

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

During the final week of our month long program in San Sebastian, a group of students came together to tell me and my Program Director that they had decided to try and come back for another study abroad experience next year. Nothing says success like a repeat customer. I was especially proud to be a part of a team that helped a group of students create life long friendships, memories and a desire to continue their study abroad experience.

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

The best story that I have heard from a return student is that their return trip was even more fulfilling than their original experience. It is never easy to live up to the expectations of a student who has already taken part in the study abroad experience but to have heard them tell me that they second trip was even more outstanding was truly appreciated.

More Interviews