Tristyn Naile - 2014 Program Participant

SPI Study Abroad students with mentor in San Sebastian, Spain

Old friends and new friends enjoying a day in San Sebastian with their favorite SPI Study Abroad mentor

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I chose to study abroad because I was looking for an experience that would help me strengthen my Spanish speaking skills and immerse me in the culture. I knew that by studying abroad I would not only earn college credit and grow in the Spanish language, but I would make memories to last a lifetime.

Why did you select SPI Study Abroad over other high school study abroad organizations?

I selected SPI Study Abroad because my high school is heavily involved with the organization, and the students that had previously gone on study abroad trips with SPI Study Abroad had nothing but wonderful things to say! I knew that if I wanted to study abroad, SPI would be the right choice for me. 

Coastal view at the highest point in San Sebastian, Spain

Tristyn and her roommate (and best friend) enjoying the view at the highest point in San Sebastián

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

My housing arrangements were more than what I could have asked for. I got to spend two weeks sharing a room with my best friend in a beautiful home. Our host mother was very accommodating, making us dinner every night and encouraging us to go out and experience San Sebastián. The best part was spending every night having dinner with our host mother where she encouraged us to speak Spanish.

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

A normal day as an international high school student consisted of school in the morning, where we engaged in Spanish speaking games and lessons, while also learning about the colloquial language of San Sebastián. After school we would meet up with friends at their house or at the beach, to have lunch and spend time together for a while before we participated in an activity planned by SPI, such as surfing, dancing class, or hiking. Then we would go home and have dinner with our host families, where we spent valuable time conversing and sharing our experiences from the day. To top it all off we would meet up with friends after dinner to get gelato or spend time at the beach before going to bed. 

What is your most memorable experience from your time in San Sebastian?

The most memorable experience I had was when my friends and I were relaxing at the beach after school one day and we met Spanish speaking kids our age who also knew some English. We sat and talked with them for hours helping them learn English while they helped us learn Spanish. We still keep in touch through social media and talk to them often!

Sightseeing in Madrid, Spain

Experiencing the beautiful sites in Madrid!

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

My advice would be to study abroad! It’s a wonderful experience that strengthened my foreign language, immersed me in the culture, and helped me make memories and friends to last forever. It might seem scary at first to spend time in a foreign place, but be open to it! You might get homesick, but you’ll miss it as soon as you return home!

How has studying abroad impacted your life at home?

Studying abroad has encouraged me to travel, continue immersing myself in Spanish language and culture, and to challenge myself to master the Spanish language. It has helped my Spanish grow, which allows me to communicate with others who speak Spanish in my town, as well as all around the world!

Would you recommend your SPI Study Abroad program to others?

Yes! SPI Study Abroad offered a wonderful experience to earn college credit, be immersed in the culture, and make long lasting memories. I met wonderful people from all over the country who were also studying abroad and our SPI mentors were very helpful, fun, and passionate. Everything about the trip was great!

What was the biggest challenge you faced abroad?

The biggest challenge I faced was when my roommate and I got lost on our first day of school. But, we immediately called one of our SPI mentors who walked us to school and helped us sign up for a bus pass so we could get to school quickly and safely.

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

San Sebastián was such a great place to study abroad because it is filled with lively culture and energetic people! There was great food and plenty of sites to see around the city. No matter what time of day, the city was alive with people and culture.

Study abroad students in San Sebastian, Spain

Tristyn and her friends participating in an SPI Study Abroad organized scavenger hunt around the city!