Reid Jowers - 2014 Program Participant

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I chose to study abroad because I enjoy traveling and wanted to immerse myself in another language. I have studied Spanish since grade school, so that is why I chose San Sebastian, Spain as my study location. Not to mention, San Sebastian has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and is an international destination for foodies! I was also excited about the opportunity to take a day trip to France.

Meat stand at Patron Saint celebration in Segovia, Spain

Patron Saint celebration in Segovia

What made you choose San Sebastian and what makes it such a great place to study abroad?

While all of the SPI locations are beautiful and rich in culture, I chose San Sebastian because I felt that it would be very safe and easy to get around. I was also interested in the food scene that makes the city unique. Another reason San Sebastian stood out was because I was excited about the opportunity to spend time in Madrid and Segovia while there too; seeing the sights of both cities added to my overall study abroad experience.

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

My housing arrangements were very accommodating. I found that mine were comfortable to live in, and the homestay made delicious food for me at every meal. My homestay family had two children and owned a restaurant that was on the bottom floor of their home. I was lucky enough to have two roommates and we got along great. The house was close to our school, and it was very easy to get to our morning classes and afternoon activities.

Spanish seafood paella

Seafood paella

What was a normal day like as an international high school student in San Sebastian?

A normal day as an international student with SPI in San Sebastian consisted of enjoying a quick breakfast with my roommates before attending Spanish class from 9 a.m. in the morning to 12 p.m. We would usually eat lunch out with a group of friends and then return home for an afternoon rest, siesta. In the later afternoon we would have planned activities with our SPI group, such as cooking, hiking the mountains, and surfing. The planned activities helped us to immerse ourselves in the culture of the Basque region. I also really enjoyed having time to explore the city with friends during our free afternoons. 

What was the most memorable experience you had while studying abroad?

It’s hard to single out one memorable experience, because the trip was a great experience as a whole. However, just being in Spain and having the opportunity to live there for an extended time is an experience that I will never forget.

What was the biggest challenge you faced abroad?

One of the biggest challenges that I faced while living in San Sebastian was deciding which pintxos (small plates) to try! There are so many choices and they are all so delicious. It was definitely a challenge that I enjoyed! In addition to the food challenges, there were also the challenges that one might expect: living with a new family and roommates, being in a Spanish speaking country, and organizing all of my own expenses and needs.

View of San Sebastian, Spain

View from Reid’s homestay in San Sebastian

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

I would suggest that if someone was interested in studying abroad with SPI to check out the website, Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter to start. Then I would talk to some of the alumni about their experiences. The SPI office in Austin is also a wealth of knowledge for planning your time abroad. Once you hear about all that studying abroad has to offer, you will want to go.

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

San Sebastian was a great location to study abroad because it is a beautiful place that is rich in culture. Since San Sebastian is in Northern Spain, we enjoyed cool weather during our time there. The beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world and a great place to relax under the sun, watch the sunset, or hang out with your friends and listen to music. The beaches were also a great place to meet some of the locals and learn more about the Basque culture. Hiking in San Sebastian is also another reason to choose the location. The views from our hikes were spectacular.

How has studying abroad impacted your life?

Studying abroad has made me more adept in the Spanish language, which is a highly sought after and useful skill in the working world. I know that I will be able to use my Spanish even after high school. Going abroad has enabled me to feel confident while traveling on my own and experiencing the culture of another country. I hope that I will have the opportunity to study abroad in college.

Would you recommend your SPI Study Abroad program to others?

I would definitely recommend the SPI Study Abroad program to my friends. In fact, I have two friends who went to Santander this summer and had an amazing time. SPI is such a great company, always concerned with the well being of all of their students and families. Their teachers are top notch and homestays are some of the best. I think that anyone who has the opportunity to study and travel with SPI should do it.

Sunset on the beach in San Sebastian, Spain

Sunset on the beach in San Sebastian

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

Given the opportunity, I would like to study in Italy. Italy has some of the same characteristics that I loved about Spain. While I have traveled to Italy, I would really enjoy staying in the country for an extended time enjoying the language, culture, and food.