I participated in Aspire by API's University of Salamanca summer program in 2011, and the summer before that I joined Aspire by API in Paris.
Salamanca is an amazing city, especially for young students studying abroad. It is small and safe, and Aspire by API gives the right amount of supervision to allow for independence while also ensuring security. Nearly every afternoon, API has great cultural activities planned daily to allow for students to get acquainted with the city before they explore on their own. API took us out to tapas restaurants, salsa classes, museums, cafes, and even to see the Spanish release of the seventh Harry Potter movie.
API offers the option to live in either a residencia or host family. I loved living in the residencia because it gave me the opportunity to become great friends with students in other programs and have a ready-made group of friends to explore the city with. However, the students in the host families also had great experiences and enjoyed having their very own Spanish mother. Many of them lived in the same building or on the same block so they were also able to travel the city together.
The University of Salamanca has an incredible summer language program. On the first day of class you test into one of a wide range of levels. The teachers are amazing, the classes are small, and you really get a good handle on grammar, writing, and comprehension. One month after never having taken Spanish before and I tested into the 3rd semester of Spanish at Notre Dame. Additionally, API staff were there every step of the way, ensuring that we were placed into the right classes and had a handle of the Spanish University system.
Finally, weekend excursions were amazing: we stayed at nice hotels, ate out at nice restaurants, took surfing lessons, etc. We traveled to Spanish beaches, specifically Santander. We made it over to Oporto, Portugal and took a wine tour. Then, we explored Madrid and Toledo. Nearby our hometown, Salamanca, we went kayaking and then took a long hike which ended in the adorable ciudad Rodriguez. I have several friends that studied or traveled abroad through similar programs to API and have come to conclude that API is a great deal and a great program. I have traveled with API twice now, and will be studying abroad with them again this summer. I think that this in itself speaks to how much I enjoyed the program.