Why Spanish Studies

Since 1969, Spanish Studies Abroad has designed its own innovative programming, specifically for U.S. students, with a focus on academic integrity, Spanish language acquisition, and student integration into the local culture. We are constantly adapting and improving our programs through regular analysis and reflection to be sure we are providing our students with the greatest learning experience possible. Our dedicated faculty and staff provide personalized support to students every step of the way.

Spanish Studies Abroad is student-centered and for more than 50 years we have been providing a fun, supportive, and challenging study abroad experience.

Academic Excellence in Study Abroad

  • Variety of program models to suit student and institutional needs
  • Innovative, dynamic, and broad curriculum
  • Philosophy of maximizing student engagement through cross-cultural courses and activities
  • Spanish-Only Policy
  • Completion of the QUIP Review which demonstrates that our programming abroad meets the Standards of Good Pratice set by the Forum on Education Abroad.
  • Active Membership and Quality Certifications through respected educational associations in both the U.S. and Europe

A Higher Level of Student Support

  • Application and pre-departure support from Spanish Studies programs associates
  • On-site 24/7 Resident Director and support staff
  • Individual assistance with academics, homestays, and cultural issues
  • Commitment to student safety

Flexibility in Working with Institutions

Short Term and Full Term programs designed in cooperation with professors from various institutions to best meet their academic objectives.

80+ well-respected institutions. Each institution is represented on our Board of Advisors, which helps to guide the future of Spanish Studies Abroad.

Student Support

Spanish Studies Abroad’s Resident Directors play a vital role in helping you adapt and get the most out of your study abroad experience.

What is a Resident Director?

An RD is your go-to person in your new city, your guardian and guide. Available 24/7 and dedicated to ensuring you have the best experience possible, they’re motivated with helping you in any way they can. From organizing and leading you on field trips and excursions, being a sympathetic ear for all matters personal and troubling, helping you with technical challenges like navigating new phone systems, to accessing funds to giving you advice on academic matters and school related issues, your RD will work tirelessly to turn every obstacle into a pleasure.

What’s the benefit of having an RD?

An RD guarantees that you have a friendly ear no matter what the issue or the problem. Cheerful, incredibly knowledgeable about the local scene, and always ready to give advice or simply listen, RD’s will make a new city immediately feel navigable and open. They are there in case of emergencies or if you simply want to chat, and knowing that you have a local with all the answers on hand will give you confidence in striking out on your own.

Who are the RD’s?

We’re glad you asked! Click here
to meet each RD and learn more about them.

Whether you are studying in Spain, Cuba, Puerto Rico, or Argentina, we ensure that you not only have the best educational experience possible at the highest level institutions, but that you are also able to easily translate those courses and credits back to your home school.

Transcripts

Spanish Studies Abroad issues transcripts detailing course numbers, titles, number of hours, and grades for all coursework undertaken on a Spanish Studies Abroad program. Grades and credits are reported according to the semester-hour system. Spanish Studies Abroad will send the official transcript from the university (or Center for Cross-Cultural Study) you attended in Spanish. The Spanish Studies Abroad school of record is Heidelberg University (Ohio).

Registration

Whether you are applying to the University of Havana, the Pablo de Olivade University in Seville, or any other of our partner institutions, Spanish Studies Abroad is dedicated to making sure your registration process is as seamless and easy as signing up for courses at your home school. From providing course descriptions and syllabi to working to make sure you have a seat in your desired class, our staff abroad will make signing up for courses a breeze.

Major Specific

Whether you are a business, health, education or other kind of major, Spanish Studies Abroad can help tailor your courses abroad to meet your academic needs. We will ensure that your studies abroad will directly contribute toward your major, so that you are not only having an immersive cultural experience but directly furthering your academic career while you do so. Simply inform your Admissions Advisor as to your major and they will work with you in selecting the appropriate courses.

Imagine yourself studying abroad. What do you picture? No doubt you see yourself walking the cobbled streets of some beautiful city, or speaking Spanish with the locals, or studying hard in some distant classroom.

Yet step back. With Spanish Studies Abroad that’s not the complete picture. Behind each and every wonderful moment of cultural immersion and academic striving is the support staff that will ensure your experience is the best one possible. The Resident Directors themselves have their own page, but beside them stand the Assistant Resident Directors, the Student Services personnel, our Program Interns and more.

Each program site will have a different sized office, ranging from our historic and beautiful Seville Center to our quaint Havana office, but wherever you go you will have a support staff on site ready and willing to help you with each and every difficulty, challenge, or question you may have.

So yes: imagine yourself walking the streets, talking, dining, laughing, making friends, studying hard, and having the time of your life. But know that there will be a team of dedicated professionals on site working with you to make that dream come true.

Registration

Spanish Studies Abroad will ensure that your registration process is as seamless and simple as registering at home, providing course descriptions and syllabi, working to make sure you have a seat in your desired class. Whether you are enrolling at Universidad de La Habana, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, or any other of our partner institutions, our staff abroad will simplify registration.

Academic Excellence

Spanish Studies Abroad has provided unique learning experiences for students since 1969. As a pioneer in study abroad, Spanish Studies knows how to make your experience academically, culturally and personally rewarding. We are unique among study abroad programs in that we offer location-appropriate program models, each of which emphasizes cultural and linguistic immersion and a deeper understanding of the study abroad experience. With a strong dedication to academic integrity and cultural authenticity, Spanish Studies programs use the following tools to cultivate your cultural, linguistic and personal growth:

 

The mission of Spanish Studies Abroad is to promote our students’ in-depth understanding of Spanish-speaking countries through specifically designed and academically rigorous university-level and cultural travel programs. All of our students cross cultural boundaries to live as members of another culture and thus to learn about others as they learn about themselves.

Intensive Language & Culture

All Spanish Studies Abroad semester programs require that you take at least one Spanish language course, and most semester programs start with an intensive Spanish Language and Culture course.

Guided Cross-Cultural Reflection

Spanish Studies Abroad programs are grounded in our philosophy of cross-cultural study. We encourage you to venture outside one cultural identity to find a comfortable place inside another. All Spanish Studies Abroad semester programs guide you through this exciting and sometimes challenging process by offering courses specially designed to help with your cultural adaptation.

Spanish-Only Policy

The Spanish-Only Policy is a tool that promotes cultural integration and reflects the commitment you make while immersing yourself in the new culture. This commitment allows you to gain a profound awareness of the local culture and to experience a greater feeling of engagement.

Cultural Integration

All our programs share a common goal: for you to gain a better understanding of the culture and language abroad. Cultural integration is achieved as you learn through experience. Spanish Studies Abroad has embedded experiential learning and reflection into all programs. Coursework, native professors, homestays, residences, cultural visits, volunteer opportunities, campus events, etc. help you move toward this goal.

 

Volunteer Opportunities

Spanish Studies Abroad students have the opportunity to participate in rewarding volunteer projects. These can be more flexible than a service learning project, though your commitment is still required. Through volunteer work, you experience a different facet of life abroad and become part of the local community. For more information, visit: Volunteer at SSA

Tutoring Local Students in English

Spanish Studies Abroad students have the option to participate in an English Tutoring Program to assist local students who are learning English. This is a great opportunity to both teach about American culture and learn about the local culture from a new perspective.

Speaking Partners

Spanish Studies Abroad provides a natural environment for Speaking Partners (intercambios)—conversational exchanges that encourage language practice and friendships between U.S. and local students. Each partnership is based on mutual interests and presents an opening to share cultural perspectives. Spanish Studies Abroad also promotes regular interaction of local and U.S. students by organizing social and cultural activities to enhance your experience abroad.

Access to Campus Events & Clubs

Through our partner universities, students get involved in university life. You have access to campus resources and activities at your local host institution. Your resident director will help you identify opportunities suitable to your specific interests.

Study Tours and Excursions

Programs feature all-inclusive faculty-led study visits complete with accommodations, meals and entrance fees. These trips are designed to enhance your class studies and are designed to expand your understanding of local history, art and culture.

Local Housing Options

Choose a homestay or a student residence. Either way, your home or residencia abroad will be the focal point of your social experience, where you will sleep, eat, study and relax. A homestay gives you unique insight into a foreign culture by allowing you to become part of a family while a residencia will allow you to live with your peers.

Experiential Learning

Spanish Studies Abroad programs offer numerous opportunities to maximize your experience. Take advantage of the Experiential Learning opportunities available to earn credit as you learn through experience and formal reflection.

 

Internship or Service Learning Abroad (3-8 credits)

Students with advanced language skills may undertake an internship or service learning project in addition to other courses. By accepting this unique challenge, you will gain valuable work experience in another country and explore a particular field in its cultural context. Service learning projects allow you unique access to the every day lives of the local community by working in a non-profit organization. Regular meetings with the resident director and guided reflection strengthen the experience.

  • The Arts
  • Athletics
  • Business/Marketing
  • Communications
  • Ecology
  • Education
  • Health
  • International Business
  • International Relations
  • Law
  • NGOs
  • Political Science
  • Recreations
  • Social Work
  • Sports
  • Tourism

Independent Research Projects (1-3 credits)

Spanish Studies Abroad offers a unique opportunity to investigate topics of personal and academic interest. An Independent Research Project (IRP) allows you to personalize your program with a project designed to meet your needs and the requirements of your home institution. In recent semesters, students have undertaken projects in music, theater arts, business, sociology, religion and more.

Recent topics:

  • Federico García Lorca on the Stage
  • Contemporary Spanish Women Writers and Feminism
  • Stencil Graffiti of Seville
  • European Tax Strategies

Living the Culture (1-3 credits)

In addition to our core academic courses, you have the opportunity to participate in “Living the Culture” courses and activities for an extra fee. Courses carry up to 3 credits and include:

  • Flamenco guitar
  • Spanish cooking
  • Dance courses
  • Theater
  • Windsurfing
  • Paddle Surf
  • Service Learning

Our Approach

All Spanish Studies Abroad Programs follow the Immersion Model, which focuses upon three important tenets of our philosophy:
 

Cultural Guidance

We believe that striving to gain a sophisticated understanding of the culture is an essential part of studying abroad. Through the Spanish Studies Abroad-designed cross-cultural reflection course, intense language preparation, and the strong presence of the Resident Director, students have the resources and educational structure to ask questions about the cultural realities and thus reach a higher understanding.

Direct Immersion

The structure of all Spanish Studies Abroad programs are specifically-designed to immerse students in direct interaction with the local culture. Through classes with native professors, cultural excursions, local speaking partners, and homestays, all students find themselves immersed while going through their daily routine.

Enhanced Immersion

Spanish Studies Abroad strongly encourages students to enhance their immersion experience through additional immersion options. These include enrolling in a more advanced program by taking courses alongside local students and participating in experiential learning opportunities, such as internships, service learning projects, volunteer work, and joining local clubs and organizations.

From this essential immersion model, Spanish Studies Abroad programs break down into these program models:  Independent Programming at the Center for Cross-Cultural Study in Seville, and Guided Direct Enrolment at local universities. All models reflect a commitment to the individual student’s academic needs and cultural experience, while providing a broad range of courses.

 

Independent Programming

Spanish Studies Abroad’s Center for Cross-Cultural Study has been an independent educational institution in Seville since 1969. The Spanish Studies program in Seville, Spain, continues to follow this tradition. Students benefit from:

  • Student-centered curriculum in a wide range of disciplines, specially designed by Spanish Studies Abroad professors
  • Flexibility to adjust curriculum continuously in response to evolving student and institutional needs
  • One-on-one interaction and direct attention from dedicated professors
  • Faculty office hours
  • Interaction with sevillanos through local speaking partners, internships, and monthly fiestas with Spanish students
  • On-site resident director, housing coordinator, computer technician and activities coordinator
  • Our Center's long history of teaching Spanish studies and its many memberships and certifications of quality

Guided Direct Enrollment

The integrated programs in Seville, SpainAlicante, SpainBarcelona, Spain, and Córdoba, Argentina, and follow the Guided Direct Enrollment model. In these programs, Spanish Studies Abroad works in cooperation with local host institutions to provide students with all of the advantages of direct enrollment, while providing additional support to further the individual student’s academic and cultural development. Students benefit from:

  • Wide range of host-institution courses
  • Access to resources and facilities of host institution
  • Daily interaction with local students
  • Spanish Studies Abroad-designed/approved culture courses and activities
  • On-site resident director and support staff
  • Cooperative relationship between our resident director and host institution
  • Individual academic counseling and support
  • Support in easing cultural transitions

A Message to Prospective Students

Dr. Michelle Durán-Ruiz has been with Spanish Studies Abroad since 2003. She received her Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Spanish Literature from Harvard University and has served as a Spanish Studies professor, Resident Director in Seville, as well as Academic Director.

Are you ready? To discover another culture, another way of living, another way of thinking is one of the greatest and most challenging adventures any human being can experience. However, to understand and comprehend the other is not an easy task. You need to be patient. You need to be flexible. You need to share and learn how to listen. Living and studying in another culture will reinforce these important skills as you discover your own resourcefulness and ability to change. By choosing to study abroad, you have probably made one of the most important decisions of your life. Perhaps this statement sounds overwhelming, but as you grow older, you will discover that those decisions that move us away from our comfort zone and help us build character turn out to be the most rewarding, precisely because they teach us how to be both humble and courageous. I say this with utter conviction. Born and raised in the Caribbean, educated in the United States, and having lived a professional and family life in Europe has taught me that cross-cultural differences do exist. Overcoming, understanding and respecting those differences are what makes study abroad an experience worth living. While you will face challenges, you are not alone in this journey. Spanish Studies Abroad has carefully chosen Resident Directors for each program site. These unique individuals have the patience, wisdom and energy to keep you focused and animated. They will teach you how to further value your study abroad experience. They will challenge you to reach your utmost potential and get the most out of your host culture. And above all, they will help you overcome any obstacle, personal or academic, that you shall encounter while abroad. Resident Directors are the backbones of our programs. Get to know them, because they certainly are eager to know you. ¡Bienvenidos!

- Michelle Durán-Ruiz, Ph.D., Academic Director, Seville Resident Director

Partner Universities

Spanish Studies Abroad is proud to partner with elite universities around the world in our dedication to provide you with only the best academic experience possible. This ensures that while you will enjoy an incredible cultural experience while abroad, you will also further your academic career by earning credits and participating in challenging and stimulating classes.

Seville: Universidad de Sevilla

Founded in 1505 and with over 65,000 students attending its many departments, the Universidad de Sevilla is one of the most important cultural and educational centers in Spain. Famous for its research in technology and science, the University offers over 65 different subjects to study and has one of the widest ranges of academic and sporting facilities in Spain.

Seville: Pablo de Olivade University

The Universidad Pablo de Olavide was founded in 1997, making it one of the most modern univerisites in Spain. Laid out like a North American campus over 345 acres in Southeast Seville, it had a dedicated academic and residential space, as well as cutting edge facilities such as campus-wide Wifi, computer centers, sports facilities and science laboratories.

Alicante: Universidad de Alicante

Spanish Studies students in Alicante study onsite at Universidad de Alicante (UA). Though established in 1979, UA was founded to carry on the traditions of the University of Orihuela (1545-1834). As the fastest-growing university in Spain, with an enrollment of 33,000, the UA is dedicated to its mission to cultivate students' academic and professional skills, while developing critical thinking and social awareness. In addition to its academics, UA prides itself on its beautiful modern campus of innovative architecture and wide green spaces.

Barcelona: Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Was awarded the distinction of International Excellence Campus by the Spanish Ministry of Education and it is widely considered to be one of the best universities in Spain, ranking 1st in scientific productivity in Spain in 2010. Founded in 1990, it is named after the Catalan philologist Pompeu Fabra. Currently, the University offers 19 undergraduate degrees, 37 official masters, and 9 PhD programs, as well as approximately 60 UPF masters.

Puerto Rico: Universidad del Sagrado Corazon

Is the oldest private educational institution in Puerto Rico.As a selective, liberal arts institution, USC’s main focus is to educate individuals through an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary educational experience. In the classroom and on campus, students will have the opportunity to interact with their peers and to experience the culture of the university.

Córdoba: Universidad Nacional de Córdoba

Founded by the Jesuits in 1613, the UNC's history is closely intertwined with the city of Córdoba. Located in the center of historic downtown, it is home to rich historical sites, architecture and resources, such as the old rectorado building and a rare book collection unique in the Americas.

Havana: Universidad de Habana

Founded in 1728, the Universidad de La Habana is the oldest and most prestigious university in Cuba. Originally a religious institution, the University now claims 16 colleges and 14 research centers on its Havana campus and throughout the island. With over 6000 degree seeking students in its regular classes, study abroad students will find themselves immersed in both a historically rich and academically challenging setting.

Cultural Immersion

As our Mission Statement declares, the goal of all Spanish Studies Abroad programs is to promote your in-depth understanding of Spanish speaking countries. We want you to return from your time abroad with a greater appreciation for a different culture, for the people, traditions, and rhythms of your destination city.

Toward that end, Spanish Studies will provide you with a variety of resources to help you connect with the locals and really go beyond the superficial interaction that most visitors are limited to. Click below to learn more about the variety of ways through which you will truly immerse yourself in your culture of choice.

Nothing helps you develop your Spanish better than conversing with locals. Yet beyond brief exchanges with shop keepers, bus drivers and waiters, it can occasionally be tricky to get into in-depth conversations about subjects that interest you.

That’s where your speaking partner, or intercambio, comes in. Spanish Studies Abroad will partner you with a local student and arrange for you to meet and talk about topics that might not normally arise during your daily activities. You can ask your intercambio anything from questions about the local music scene and the best places to grab tapas to their opinions on local politics, their hopes for the future, and more.

Be prepared – they might ask you similar questions!

How do we match you with the right speaking partner? During the pre-departure process you will complete a questionnaire that will map out your interests, and then we’ll match you to a local student that has those interests in common. So whether you’re a sports fanatic or passionate about cooking, we’ll do our best to connect you with someone eager to discuss the same interests.

Spanish Studies Abroad will arrange parties, get-togethers, and cultural events for you to hang out with your intercambio, but we encourage you to take the initiative, befriend your speaking partner, and arrange to meet in the city on your own time. We’ve heard from many students that connecting with their intercambio was the best way to make local friends their age, truly learn about their new environment, and immerse themselves in the local culture.

For programs in Spain, Argentina, and Cuba

One of the best ways to integrate into your program’s city and culture is through our practice of homestays. This allows you to actually live with a local family, to sit with them at dinner, to speak Spanish regularly outside the classroom setting and truly learn what it feels like to be a member of the community.

Our Housing Coordinator chooses housing placements very carefully. Most of the families who host Spanish Studies Abroad students have been working with us for years and come with the highest recommendations from former students.

Your señora will give you a set of keys to your house, so you will be able to go out and experience life abroad on your own schedule. With that comes the responsibility of keeping your family informed of your plans; let them know if you will be home late or if you plan to miss a meal.

Many students report back that their host family was one of the most wonderful and enriching part of their study abroad experience, and stay in touch with their host mothers for years after they return to the US. If you are excited about truly immersing yourself in the local culture, this is hands down the very best way to do so.

“From the day I walked into the door of my home stay I felt at home and I felt as if my host mom was just a Spanish version of my actual mother. My host mom, Loli, was an amazing woman and we got along extremely well. She would help me when I had problems, she listened to me, she advised me, she cared for me, and even helped me when I got sick. I look up to my host mom as a role model, and find her to be an incredible woman with many talents. Her family is a beautiful family that is also compassionate and caring, and we would spend a lot of time together. I miss them all so much and actually continue to E-mail Loli on a weekly basis. We established a wonderful relationship and look forward to returning to Seville in June to see her, my partner and other friends.”

– Michael Farkas, Seville, Spain

All our programs share a common goal: for you to gain a better understanding of the culture and language abroad. Cultural integration is achieved as you learn through experience. Spanish Studies Abroad has embedded experiential learning and reflection into all programs. Coursework, native professors, homestays, residences, cultural visits, volunteer opportunities, campus events, etc. help you move toward this goal.

Volunteer Opportunities

Spanish Studies Abroad students have the opportunity to participate in rewarding volunteer projects. These can be more flexible than a service learning project, though your commitment is still required. Through volunteer work, you experience a different facet of life abroad and become part of the local community.

Tutoring Local Students in English

Spanish Studies Abroad students have the option to participate in an English Tutoring Program to assist local students who are learning English. This is a great opportunity to both teach about American culture and learn about the local culture from a new perspective.

Speaking Partners

Spanish Studies Abroad provides a natural environment for Speaking Partners (intercambios)—conversational exchanges that encourage language practice and friendships between U.S. and local students. Each partnership is based on mutual interests and presents an opening to share cultural perspectives. Spanish Studies Abroad also promotes regular interaction of local and U.S. students by organizing social and cultural activities to enhance your experience abroad.

Access to Campus Events & Clubs

Through our partner universities, students get involved in university life. You have access to campus resources and activities at your local host institution. Your resident director will help you identify opportunities suitable to your specific interests.

Study Tours and Excursions

Programs feature all-inclusive faculty-led study visits complete with accommodations, meals and entrance fees. These trips are designed to enhance your class studies and are designed to expand your understanding of local history, art and culture.

Local Housing Options

Choose a homestay or a student residence. Either way, your home or residencia abroad will be the focal point of your social experience, where you will sleep, eat, study and relax. A homestay gives you unique insight into a foreign culture by allowing you to become part of a family while a residencia will allow you to live with your peers.

The Spanish-Only Policy requires students to speak only Spanish during class times, while in homestays, and at all Spanish Studies Abroad-related events. This tool promotes cultural integration and reflects the commitment that Spanish Studies Abroad students make to immersing themselves in a new culture. The benefits of adhering to the SpanishOnly Policy, no matter your initial language level, are great:

  • You will improve your ability to understand and express yourself in Spanish.
  • As fluency increases, you will gain a greater awareness of the local culture while developing relationships with your host family, professors and friends.
  • You will experience a greater feeling of accomplishment in your integration while demonstrating a higher level of respect toward the local culture.

 

There is no better method for learning a language than immersion supplemented by class work. To help you get the most out of your experience, all your fellow students attending programs with Spanish Studies Abroad are required to adhere to the Spanish-Only Policy.

Responsiveness

Spanish Studies Abroad prides itself on having continuously grown and evolved since it was established in 1969. Over the past 45 years we have expanded to different countries, opened new offices, and sent thousands of students abroad, but we have strived to not grow set in our ways or deaf to the needs of our students and their universities.

To ensure that we remain a dynamic organization that remains at the forefront of the study abroad field, we have long established a Board of Advisors where industry professionals ranging from Spanish Language faculty and study abroad advisors meet with us as well as actively asking for feedback from our students when they return from their programs.

Read below to learn more, and see why Spanish Studies Abroad is as responsive and relevant today as it was when it was founded in 1969.

Board of advisors

Spanish Studies Abroad is proud to have over 80 members representing each of our affiliate universities serving on our Board of Advisors. We meet with this diverse group of faculty and study abroad professionals once every two years, and there discuss academic policy, program updates, and receive member feedback.

Since our Board members come from across the country and interact with the field of study abroad in such a fundamentally varied manner, these meetings help keep Spanish Studies Abroad aware of recent trends, student concerns, and the direction that the study abroad industry is moving. Hearing our affiliates' feedback ensures that Spanish Studies remains at the forefront of the field, and that we are able to consistently deliver the very best in study abroad programs.

To review the itinerary from our most recent 2014 Board of Advisors meeting, please click here.

Evaluations

Spanish Studies Abroad has been sending students abroad since 1969, when the Guidera family established The Center for Cross-Cultural Study and sent the first group of students to Málaga, Spain. Since those humble beginnings we have grown and evolved so that we now send students abroad to six different programs at all times of the year. Yet despite that growth we have never lost sight of our basic, core mission: to make these programs as effective and educational as possible, and help our students experience authentic cultural immersion.

Toward that end, we have always listened to our students and incorporated their feedback into the development and refinement of our programs. When you return from your program abroad, you will receive a detailed questionaire asking you to rate everything from your classes to your residences, from your ease of application to how friendly and available our staff onsite was.

Why? We want our programs to be engaging, dynamic, and responsive to our student's needs. As a result of this ongoing evaluation, we have continued to improve our programs, and routinely receive excellent reviews on sites such as Abroad101 and GoAbroad. We encourage you to read these reviews, and know that as an organization we are open to your voice, and to constantly striving to provide the very best educational and immersive experience possible.

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