• Spain
    • San Sebastián
Academic Year, Fall, Spring, Summer
Subject Areas
Accounting Anthropology Cultural Studies Humanities Journalism Literature Philosophy

Program Details

Program Type
Degree Level
Apartment Host Family
Jan 17, 2020
Sep 21, 2022
9 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

The San Sebastián program opens an academic window on the Spanish and Basque people, introducing you to the rich diversity of Spain and offering a truly multicultural experience. San Sebastián has the highest level of bilingualism of any of the area’s cities: all of its inhabitants speak Spanish, and one third speak Basque as well. In addition to American students, European students also participate in the San Sebastián program.

Read more about our awesome program and sign up for the next available term on the USAC Study Abroad website today!

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Study Spanish and Basque language and culture while you live it in activities such as hiking, cultural events, and the conversation partner program with local students
  • Live in a stunning location on Spain’s beautiful northern coast, twenty minutes from the border of France—with easy connections to Madrid, Bilbao, and major European cities
  • Benefit from San Sebastián’s well-known, cuisine and beautiful beaches. Surf the Basque Country with locals to see why San Sebastián is known as one of the top destinations for surfing in Europe
  • Join excursions in Spain and the French Basque Country to prehistoric caves, mountains, and traditional fishing villages
  • Sign up for the optional Madrid Tour/Field Study and earn credit while exploring one of Europe’s most exciting capital cities


USAC Scholarships

USAC Scholarships and Financial Aid

USAC awards over $2 million in scholarships and discounts each year to assist students with their study abroad expenses.

$500 - $1,000

Program Reviews

9.7 Rating
based on 30 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 90%
  • 7-8 rating 10%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Academics 8.7
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 9.3
  • Housing 9.5
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 8 of 30 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Good Experience Abroad

I enjoyed my time abroad greatly. The courses were very small and had wonderful professors that loved teaching. The grading was a bit tougher than in the United States, but the professors worked with me. I enjoyed the surfing class a lot. The support staff were super nice and helpful with travel and sickness. I loved my host family. All of the students in the program were great, and we had a fun community. The excursions that the program provided were very enjoyable, and I wish we had more opportunities like that.

3 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

San Sebastian= Best college (and life!) decision

I had the privilege of participating in the 2022 San Sebastian Summer program. Words cannot articulate how special this experience was for me, but I hope that the fact that I am already planning a trip back/ have concrete plans to visit my peers that I met through this experience speaks for itself. When people ask about my study abroad experience, I think they may sometimes regret it because I can go on for an eternity about the amazing friendships, culture immersion, global contacts, and sense of travel identity that it gave me. San Sebastian is the most perfect combination of nature, nightlife, rich culture, cleanliness, and safeness.

The program leaders in Donostia went above and beyond planning and communicating events to the point where I did not want to travel to other countries on free weekends the way I thought I would because my beautiful host city always had something amazing to offer. However, on the off chance I did want to travel they were there every step of the way helping me plan the (unaffiliated with school) trip.
The program leaders, specifically Patricia, looked after me as if I was one of their own when I fell ill which is more than any parent who is sending their student abroad or sick college kid like myself could ever hope for when in a stressful situation as such. The last praise I want to give to the staff goes straight to the teachers! Marina helped me learn more in 6 weeks than I learned in 2 years of High School Spanish, I left Spain with more Spanish confidence than I ever thought I could have.

Although this is not a complaint, I did want to explain my one 9/10 stars in the housing category. The range of living situations is vast and it would have been nice to been informed of this however, it in no way negatively affected my experience. I was blessed to have lived in a quaint apartment near the ocean that had one of the most genuine and kind local landlords/ human beings I have ever met. The landlord was an older Basque gentleman who showed my roommates and I the upmost hospitality. Although we were on the lower end of housing size, quality, and distance from the school, I honestly would not have traded it for a "nicer" placement because it was extremely homey and safe.

The Spanish class put me outside of my comfort zone in the best way possible; we learned extremely fast paced yet efficiently. The workload was very reasonable and there was always easily accessible teacher support. The surf class gets an easy 10 stars, as it was one of the most rewarding and fun experiences I have ever had. The instructors were so patient, outgoing, and personable.

As cliche as it sounds, USAC studying abroad was everything I could have wish for and some. I left with lifelong friends and the biggest place in my heart for new cultures.

  • Local/ program hospitality
  • Exceptional culinary/ activity options
  • Picture perfect scenery (That's safe!)
  • None
3 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Summer Ever!

I would highly recommend this program! San Sebastián is the absolute best place to spend the summer and the USAC staff worked exceptionally hard to ensure the summer was educational, enlightening, and comfortable. They were helpful with every problem I came to them with and planned fun and exciting field trips. I learned so much in just two months and I could see the obvious growth in my Spanish abilities. The city is absolutely beautiful with picturesque beaches, exceptional restaurants, and so many fun activities to do. In addition, San Sebastián was in a good location to travel to other places and explore more of Europe. Learning about Basque culture was one of my favorite parts about this program and the staff and instructors made sure this was possible. I made incredible friends in this program and had the most memorable summer of my life.

  • Beaches
  • Michelin Restaurants
  • Basque culture
3 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Highly Recommend

I had an amazing experience studying in San Sebastián, Spain with USAC. The placement system for classes once we arrived was really helpful, and I loved my professors. The staff in the office always had the answers to my questions, translated at the doctor's when I was sick, and were friendly as can be. As an introvert and a homebody who had never left US and Canada, I was so nervous about everything that could go wrong. However, the support I received made it an unforgettable experience. I stayed with a host family, and would highly recommend that.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
My host family cooked for me and made sure I tried all kinds of things such as fake eels, fried pig's blood, and squid int heir ink. Going out to eat was just as exciting. From baked cheesecake to tortilla de patatas to gelato and all the pintxos, San Sebastián really has it all.
24 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

San Sebastián Fall 2021

I absolutely fell in love with my time abroad in Donostia, Basque Country. I had an incredible Spanish professor, a beautiful host family and a wonderful support system within the community. Every day I'd walk to school along the ocean, looking out at the three lush peaks of San Sebastian. I made friends with Spanish locals who taught me how to make Spanish Tortilla and who took my around to local known spots. My host family will always have a piece of my heart and I can't wait to see them again.

What was your funniest moment?
One day my host brother, Mauro, came home from his rugby game. Since he had been studying English and I was studying Spanish we would interchangeably use both so I asked him "how was your game?" and he said "¿que? MAURO!!" hahaha. He had thought I said "how is your name", it was so cute.
29 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Summer Abroad

This program was the highlight of my life's academic experiences. San Sebastián is an incredible city with great surfing, food, hiking, clubs, bars, and culture. It is without a doubt my favorite city on earth, and the program facilitated my exploration of it. The program staff and faculty were excellent, both in terms of traditional academic learning and experiential learning through excursions and recommendations. My host family was incredible and the program staff has carefully vetted all host families and knows the specifics of their situations. I could not recommend this program more!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Enjoy everything the city has to offer! Surf, Party, Eat at restaurants and bars, go out and enjoy Spain's social culture. Do Pintxo Pote on Thursdays, go to cultural events and festivals, hike, forget about English and immerse yourself in Spanish!
34 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best experience!

This was the best city ever and another home of mine now. San Sebastian as a city has everything you could need and is accessible to do all. With being a smaller city, you are able to experience more and learn more about the Basque culture. USAC provides great classes and makes sure you are comfortable in the class you are taking. One of the best add ones for me was doing the Madrid field study which allowed me to experience another part of the country and see 3 other cities that I would not have gone to without this field study! USAC made it able for me to stay with a family so I only spoke Spanish allowing my skills to significantly improve and have help if I was struggling on a homework assignment. USAC also had excursions that brought me to places I would not have traveled as well.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
DO IT!!! Say YES to new experiences! Pack less than you think you need, but enough. There is so much great shopping there! Take advantage of every opportunity you have!
44 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Fall of 2018

San Sebastian was a beautiful city, I'm still amazed at the amount of beauty and culture that I was able to enjoy. It was the perfect size; everyone knows each other and I always had a sense of security. I was able to enjoy it in the fall which was a perfect time to do so, I had a few weeks of summer left to enjoy the beach, the winter was hardly cold, and the changing of seasons was unforgettable. There is something for everyone to enjoy, whether that something is hiking, surfing, eating, a nice walk by the beach or traveling, it's an incredibly convenient location. I loved exploring the smaller near-by cities and would recommend everyone to visit as many as they can. I'd also like to mention the staff, and the fact that they were incredibly helpful and attentive to all of my concerns. They gave me great advise on everything from the bus system, to airport concerns, to recommended hikes and I left more connected to my college professors than I'd ever been.

37 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

Hi Abby - sorry for the delayed response on this. If you haven't received an answer yet, you are pre-determined for a class level based on your prerequisites and classes you've already taken at home. Some things to note is that if you choose to take a class abroad at a level you've already taken at home, you won't receive credit. Also, track four, while harder since it is a 400 level class only...

I had a homestay in San Sebastian and am glad that I did. I picked up the language more quickly, had an adorable host sister, got lots of local tips, and if I ever go back to the city, I will have friends to visit. However, there were times that I experienced some "fear of missing out." I think this is common with homestay students - I sometimes felt like all my friends were hanging out without me...