Spain: San Sebastián - Spanish Language, Basque, Psychology, and European Studies

COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, USAC has decided to offer flexible booking options for some of their upcoming programs. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.

Video and Photos

on the port facing the city
near old town
Monte Unlia aka one of the best views of the beaches
Old Town (Parte Vieja) packed for the rowing races
Taken off a bridge connecting two parts of San Sebastian!
A view of the city, the water, the beach!

About

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!

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

Summer Virtual Internships & Online Classes are Here!

Let USAC bring the world to you through our new online Global Perspectives Program where you can gain an international perspective and develop intercultural experience through online courses and virtual internships. Students who complete a USAC Global Perspectives Program during Summer 2020 are eligible for a discount on future USAC programs.

Scholarships

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.

Value
$500 - $1,000

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...

Reviews

9.71 Rating
based on 24 reviews
  • Academics 8.8
  • Support 9
  • Fun 9.3
  • Housing 9.6
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 8 of 24
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Megan
10/10
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!
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Diana
8/10
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.

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Madison
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

European Beach Town with Historic Feel

I absolutely loved my time abroad in San Sebastián! My apartment (assigned by the program) had a beach view, delicious food was everywhere, and I learned so much about the Basque culture, which I never imagined happening before coming to Spain! If you join this program, be sure to sign up for a language partner. Not only did this help me improve my Spanish, but I now have a friend for life (I've been back to visit him twice since my program ended).

The best part about San Sebastián is that there is beauty everywhere you look. It's surrounded by lush greenery and there are plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking or surfing.

The USAC employees are also super helpful. I had no issue getting the classes I wanted, there were tons of recommendations for things to do in town, and I could tell that everyone there was really passionate about what they do.

I've been back to visit San Sebastián twice now and I can't imagine going to Europe without making a trip to my home away from home.

Taylor
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

San Seb, the love of many lives

San Seb was such a gorgeous city to live in while learning spanish. I couldn't gush about this city or this program more. My host parents were extremely kind and so patient while I was in the early stages of my learning. The teachers spoke mainly in spanish with students but also knew english if things became too much of a struggle. Being from Iowa, I never thought I would surf but taking the surfing class gave me a new confidence (plus the teachers were so cute).

I highly recommend living in San Sebastian during your study abroad experience. I still miss pintxo pote and kalimotxos <3

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Sydney
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Review of USAC San Sebastian Fall 2017

My experience in San Sebastian was incredible. I was in one of the most beautiful places in the world, met so many interesting new people, and was completely immersed in a fascinating culture. The city was not only gorgeous, but it was extremely safe and welcoming. I felt very lucky to have studied abroad in Northern Spain, because Basque Country is the most unique and interesting culture I have ever come across. Through my classes, field trips, and personal adventures, I was able to surround myself completely with Basque culture. It will always hold a very special place in my heart, and now that I am back in America, I am very open about my love for Basque people, language, and culture.

What would you improve about this program?
I believe there a few ways in which this program can be improved. First off, I want to comment on the disappointment I felt in the communication between the program and the arriving students before the start of the program. I was not able to tell my parents which classes I was taking, where I was living, or much else until the first day of school. Since arriving to a foreign country is already unsettling, it would’ve been nice to have the assurance of class schedule and living address. I also would like to express my discontent in the inflexibility of the program. There were not many choices of classes to start with, and upon arriving, we found out that some of the advertised classes were being cancelled. We were forced to take Spanish for three hours a day, Monday-Friday along with other classes. Let me be very clear when I say that if I had known this was my schedule, I would NOT have chosen this program. As much as I loved San Sebastian, the work load was too stressful for a student of a foreign country. For a student who’s main prerogative was to travel, San Sebastian’s work load made this nearly impossible. And when we did travel out of the country, a lot of the time, we were delayed because of unforeseeable circumstances. These were not excused, but instead condemned by the administration, who responded by docking our grades by a significant amount. It seemed extremely ridiculous to me that we could fail out of a class for only missing 3 classes. Although professors would claim this is a USAC guideline, I had colleagues in Prague and Florence who’s staff was much more understanding regarding attendance. Overall, if I had known my class schedule beforehand, I most likely would’ve chosen another place to study.
Response from USAC

Hi Sydney,

Thank you very much for your feedback on the San Sebastian program. USAC does instill a very strict attendance policy, seeing as we are an academic first program. Our attendance guidelines are in the academic policy which every student receives before they leave. I have passed on your feedback to my team and am glad you enjoyed your time in San Sebastian.
Thank you,
Sara

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Jennifer
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience

The city is absolutely beautiful and the people who live there are friendly. The program offers a lot of excursions that take you to places off the beaten path and you get to experience the country like a local. The professors are patient and very good. The university campus is gorgeous. The best part would probably be the amazing food you can find. There is pinxo pote every thursday night where locals crowd the streets and hop from restaurant to restaurant and eat a small meal at each. Overall the city was very safe and had a ton to do. It is nice and close to the France border so you can make quick and fun day trips.

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Justin
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Trip of a lifetime

San Sebastian, Spain is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It has two different coves, one for relaxing and the other for surfing. The hiking is to die for and the surrounding towns are something you will never forget. The city is not too big but big enough to find new adventures everyday. I missed the cuisine the most. San Sebastian has the top michelin star restaurant and the best food at local bars called pintchos.

What would you improve about this program?
One way the program could become better is, having more class trips and local activities planned.
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Madison
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Beautiful city with the best staff!

I chose this city based off of recommendations from people who have visited, and I’m really glad I followed through. The staff here was amazing and soooo supportive and helpful. The staff really wanted to you to succeed and enjoy your time there. I participated in an optional tour and along with that they also took us and informed us about tons of cultural events! The city was beautiful, but the USAC staff is what really made the trip worth it.

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing that could possibly include this would be more field trips, although we went on plenty!