Ryan Chandler - 2013 Program Participant

View of San Sebastian

Amusement Park in San Sebastian, showing the city in the background

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I chose to study abroad because I really wanted to work on my Spanish skills, and my school was offering the immersion program with SPI Study Abroad in San Sebastian. 

Why did you select SPI Study Abroad?

It was the clear choice when it came to reputation and depth of programs.

What were your housing arrangements like in San Sebastian? What was the best part?

I was housed in an apartment building right on the ocean, literally 300 feet from the beach. I had my own bed and a roommate who I attended school with. The best part was the other exchange student from Sweden, named Karl, as I learned a ton of Swedish from him, and he understood and spoke English as if it was his first language.

Visiting an old castle in Toledo, Spain

Ryan was in an old castle in Toledo that the SPI Abroad group visited, he posed next to the knight

What was a normal day like as a high school student in San Sebastian, Spain?

I would wake up and eat a light breakfast. My homestay always made a sandwich for me and my roommate and I walked to school, which was only half a mile away. After school, we had free time where we could hang out on the beach and just chill with our classmates. 

What are your most memorable experiences from your time in Spain?

The most memorable experiences were hanging out on the beach and body surfing. It was tons of fun, and I was actually pretty good at it!

What was the biggest challenge you faced abroad?

The biggest challenge was the first day of class, kind of settling in and everyone else just looking at you like you didn’t belong. That was all cured by lunch of the first day, and everyone was really cool.

What advice would you give to other high school students interested in studying abroad with SPI?

I would say to definitely do it, as it not only expands your language, but you meet people from all over the world. For example, I met seven British people, three Swedes, one Norwegian, and even another guy from the U.S.!

What makes San Sebastian such a great place to study abroad?

The fact that the culture there is very, very prevalent and the incredibly temperate climate. I was amazed at how great the temperature always was, and it only rained once while I was there. The culture is also shown in the sign making and instead of “ch”, they would use “tx or “tz”. 

Running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain

The running of the bulls in Pamplona - starting off the competition

How has your time in Spain stayed with you now that you have returned home?

It has implanted incredibly fond memories and made bonds with people I would have never met before this trip. I am still in contact with some of my good friends from the trip, and the memories feel like they were yesterday.

Would you recommend SPI Study Abroad’s program in San Sebastian to other high school students?

Yes. It is a GREAT opportunity for you to expand your mind, learn a new culture, meet new people, and best of all, go to the beach every day.

If you could change one thing about your program, what would it be?

I would make the experience three weeks instead of two, and make it a little more free form. For me, it was kind of annoying having to follow the schedule sometimes, like going with my school group to the amusement park even though I don’t particularly enjoy them.

If you could study abroad again, where would you go?

I am returning to San Sebastian this summer, on the same trip. It was such a great experience, and I am one of the only people who is repeating the trip, so hopefully I will make new friends and maybe even see some old ones. 

Study abroad student in Toledo, Spain

Ryan before fully explored the castle in Toledo