School Year Abroad Summer Program

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Group of cheerful happy students holding world globe and looking at camera leaning on white wall at campus.

School Year Abroad Summer Program

The School Year Abroad (SYA) Summer Programs let high school students spend a summer in another country to learn and grow. Students go to classes, take part in fun activities, and live with local families or in places for students. This mix of school and fun helps students get better at speaking another language and understanding people from different parts of the world. It’s perfect for students who want to try new things and learn about different cultures.

In this blog post, we’re going to tell you all about the SYA Summer Programs. We’ll answer big questions you might have, like what the program is, where it happens, how to sign up, and why it’s a good idea to join. We’ll also talk about how long it lasts and what you need to do to apply. This post will help you figure out everything you need to know about this great chance to learn more and see the world.

What is the School Year Abroad Summer Programs?

The School Year Abroad (SYA) Summer Programs are a unique opportunity for high school students to dive deep into a new culture, language, and way of life for five weeks during the summer. These programs are structured around four weeks of intensive language and cultural lessons both inside and outside the classroom, including exciting excursions, community-based activities, and a significant homestay experience with a local family.

The fifth and final week is dedicated to travel, allowing students to further explore the country they have begun to call their “second home.” Students have the choice between three distinct programs located in Spain, France, and Italy, each offering a rich immersion experience designed to enhance language skills, cultural understanding, and global awareness.

These SYA Summer Programs aim not only to enhance students’ language proficiency and cultural understanding but also to foster personal growth, independence, and a global perspective. The emphasis on homestays, combined with the range of activities and excursions, ensures that students learn much more than just language skills; they gain insights into the daily lives of people in their host countries, form lasting relationships, and develop a deeper appreciation for global diversity.

Whether through exploring art in Italy, history in France, or cultural sites in Spain, SYA Summer Programs provide an unparalleled educational adventure that extends far beyond the traditional classroom experience.

Where is the School Year Abroad Summer Programs Being Held?

The School Year Abroad (SYA) Summer Programs are held in three beautiful and culturally rich countries: France, Italy, and Spain. Each program offers students a unique setting to learn and explore.

Rennes, France

In the SYA Summer Program in Rennes, France, students start their adventure by landing in Paris and heading to the Loire Valley for a three-day orientation. Then, they move to Rennes to live with host families. For four weeks, students have French classes in the morning tailored to their skill level.

Row of crooked medieval houses in Rennes, France

In the afternoons, they participate in local activities and visit historical sites like Mont Saint-Michel and Normandy. They also enjoy kayaking, art, and cooking classes. Weekends are spent with host families, diving deeper into French culture. The program caps off with a trip to Paris, visiting famous spots like the Louvre and Eiffel Tower.

Viterbo, Italy

The Italy program offers a deep dive into Italian culture and language. After landing in Rome, students spend three days in Tuscia for orientation, exploring beautiful villages. They then meet their host families in Viterbo. The curriculum includes Italian language and art history classes, with elective options in classics or global studies.

Viterbo, Italy - A sunday sping morning in the medieval city of the Lazio region, district named San Pellegrino

Field trips take them to Rome, Florence, Naples, and other historical sites. The program emphasizes using Italian in daily interactions and exploring art on-site. The final week includes a northern Italy tour, visiting cities like Venice.

Zaragoza, Spain

In Zaragoza, Spain, students experience a five-week immersion, starting with an orientation in Toledo. They live with host families and split class time between Spanish language and culture. Activities and excursions enrich learning, including visits to Toledo and Oviedo. Classes are all in Spanish, aiming to improve language skills through practical use.

View of Basilica Pillar in Zaragoza , Spain

Students engage in cooking, art, and dance, and work on a multimedia project. The program encourages teamwork and creativity, concluding with a trip to explore northern Spain’s beauty, including Oviedo and the Cantabrian Sea.

Facilities for the programs include local schools or educational centers where language and culture classes are held. Accommodation is primarily with host families, carefully selected to ensure a safe and enriching stay. This arrangement not only enhances language skills but also deepens cultural understanding, making it a cornerstone of the SYA Summer Programs experience.

When Does the School Year Abroad Summer Programs Take Place?

The School Year Abroad Summer Programs in France, Italy, and Spain are all scheduled to take place from June 19, 2024, to July 23, 2024. This five-week period during the summer offers students an intensive and immersive experience in their chosen country, allowing them to deeply engage with the language and culture.

The program dates are the same for all locations—Rennes in France, Viterbo in Italy, and Zaragoza in Spain—ensuring a uniform structure across the different countries. This consistency helps in planning and preparation, regardless of students’ chosen destination.

Admissions for these programs operate on a rolling basis, with the first round of acceptances being sent out on February 2nd. Following this, acceptances will continue to be announced every Friday until the programs reach their full capacity. This rolling admissions process allows students flexibility in applying, but it’s also a reminder of the importance of applying early, as spots in these popular programs can fill up quickly.

Why Should You Join the School Year Abroad Summer Programs?

Joining the School Year Abroad (SYA) Summer Programs is a fantastic way to grow personally and get better at your studies. These programs put you right in the middle of a new culture, helping you learn a language faster and understand the world in a way you can’t from just reading books or watching videos.

First, you’ll see big improvements in your language skills. Whether you’re learning French in France, Italian in Italy, or Spanish in Spain, living there, going to classes, and talking with your host family every day means you’ll get better without even realizing it. It’s not just about memorizing words; it’s about living the language.

Second, these programs are great for learning about different cultures. You’ll eat local food, celebrate traditions, and see daily life in a new place. This isn’t just fun; it makes you more open-minded and understanding of people from other places.

Students who’ve been part of SYA Summer Programs often say it changed their lives. They talk about making lifelong friends, feeling more confident, and seeing the world differently. Some even find a new passion for international studies or decide to study or work abroad later because of their summer experience.

Lastly, it’s a boost for your future. Colleges and future jobs look favorably on students who’ve challenged themselves and stepped out of their comfort zones. It shows you’re curious, brave, and ready to tackle big challenges.

In short, SYA Summer Programs are more than just a summer trip. They’re a chance to grow, learn, and prepare for a bright future while having the time of your life.

How to Join the School Year Abroad Summer Programs

Joining the School Year Abroad (SYA) Summer Programs is an exciting step towards an unforgettable summer experience. Here’s how to get started, along with the eligibility criteria for each country’s program.

Eligibility Criteria

  • For France: You need to be going into 10th, 11th, or 12th grade and have finished at least two years of high school French or completed level two of French.
  • For Italy: This program is open to students entering 10th, 11th, or 12th grade, with no specific language requirements.
  • For Spain: Students going into 10th, 11th, or 12th grade who have completed at least two years of high school Spanish or finished level two of Spanish are eligible.

Steps to Join

  1. Online Application: The first step is to fill out an online application form. There’s a $50 application fee for all programs.
  2. Recommendations: For France and Spain, you’ll need a recommendation from your language teacher. While for Italy, a language teacher recommendation is optional.
  3. Transcript: Submit your most recent transcript, including your fall semester grades, as part of your application.

Program Fees

The program fee for each location—France, Italy, and Spain—is $9,500 for the summer of 2024. This fee covers tuition, your stay with a host family, meals, excursions, and health insurance. Not included are your flight costs, visa fees, if applicable, travel insurance, and personal spending money.

Side view at multi-ethnic group of students using laptop while studying in college

Once you’ve completed these steps, your application will be considered complete. Remember, these programs are popular, so it’s a good idea to apply early. This way, you ensure your spot and have enough time to prepare for an amazing summer abroad.

How to Apply for the School Year Abroad Summer Programs

Applying for the School Year Abroad (SYA) Summer Programs is an exciting journey towards an unforgettable international learning experience. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply, including the documents you’ll need and tips to make your application stand out.

Starting Your Application

  1. Create a “mySYA portal” Account: Begin by filling out a form to create your account. Instructions will be emailed to you on setting up your “mySYA” portal, where you’ll start your application.

Application Steps

  1. Student Information Form and Application Fee: Complete the Student Information Form and pay a non-refundable $50 application fee. This step must be finished before you can schedule your interview.
  2. Personal Essay: Write one personal essay. This is your chance to share your story, your interests in the program, and what you hope to gain from the experience.
  3. Teacher Recommendations: Obtain three teacher recommendations. These should come from your current advisor, your language teacher, and your English teacher. These recommendations are crucial for providing insight into your academic and personal qualities.
  4. Transcript Submission: Submit your transcript with grades up to the current fall marking period. This gives the admissions team a comprehensive view of your academic performance.
  5. Student Interview: After submitting the Student Information Form and application fee, you’ll have an interview with an SYA representative. This is a great opportunity to express your enthusiasm for the program and ask any questions you might have.
  6. Parent Interview (for Sophomore Applicants Only): If you’re applying as a sophomore, at least one parent will need to conduct a phone interview with the SYA Director of Enrollment. This ensures your family is fully informed and supportive of your participation in the program.
  7. Parent Statement (Optional): Though optional, a parent statement can provide additional perspectives on your readiness and suitability for the program.

Tracking Your Application

Use your “mySYA” portal account to keep track of your application’s status. The Admissions Office will notify you once all the requirements have been received.

Tips for a Strong Application

  • Personal Essay: Share personal experiences or challenges that have shaped you. Be genuine and articulate clearly why you want to join the SYA Summer Program. This is your chance to stand out.
  • Interview Preparation: Treat the interview as a conversation where you can showcase your enthusiasm for cultural exchange and learning. Research the program and the country you wish to study in, and be ready to discuss how the experience aligns with your goals.
  • Recommendations: Choose teachers who know you well and can speak to your strengths, character, and readiness for an international experience. Inform them about the program so they can tailor their recommendations to highlight qualities that will resonate with the SYA’s objectives.

Following these steps and tips will help you craft a compelling application for the SYA Summer Programs. Remember, the process is not just about evaluating your academic credentials but also understanding your motivations and readiness for this transformative experience.

How Hard is it to Get Into the School Year Abroad Summer Programs?

Getting into the School Year Abroad (SYA) Summer Programs can be competitive, but how hard it is to secure a spot depends on several factors including the number of applicants, the qualities of those applicants, and how well you match up to what the program is looking for. The SYA Summer Programs are designed for high school students who are eager to learn and grow in a new cultural environment. Because of the unique and enriching experience these programs offer, they attract a lot of interest from students across the globe.

Selectivity and Competitiveness

The selectivity of SYA Summer Programs varies from year to year, influenced by the applicant pool’s size and quality. These programs look for students who are not just academically strong but also curious, adaptable, and enthusiastic about engaging with new cultures and languages. The application process is thorough, evaluating each candidate’s academic performance, language skills (for France and Spain programs), personal essay, teacher recommendations, and interview responses.

What Makes a Candidate Stand Out

1. Strong Academic Record

Good grades are important, but SYA also looks at the rigor of your courses and your overall academic trajectory. Showcasing your dedication to learning, especially in subjects related to the program (like language studies for France and Spain), can make a big difference.

2. Language Proficiency

For programs in France and Spain, demonstrating a strong foundation in the respective language can make you stand out. Even for Italy, where there’s no language requirement, showing interest in or basic knowledge of Italian can be a plus.

3. Personal Essay

This is your chance to shine. A standout essay is one that is not only well-written but also deeply personal. Share your motivations for wanting to join the program, any previous experiences with cultural exchange, and how you believe the experience will impact your future.

a male student using his laptop

4. Recommendations

Strong, personalized recommendations from teachers who know you well can significantly boost your application. These letters should speak to your character, work ethic, and how you engage with your school community.

5. Interview Performance

Being articulate, genuine, and enthusiastic during your interview can set you apart. Show that you’ve done your research about the program and can articulate why it’s a good fit for you. Your ability to reflect on how this experience will contribute to your personal and academic growth is key.

6. Extracurricular Involvement

Engagement in extracurricular activities, especially those that demonstrate leadership, a commitment to community service, or an interest in global cultures, can make your application more compelling.

7. Adaptability and Openness

Qualities like adaptability, resilience, and openness to new experiences are highly valued. If you have stories that showcase these traits, your application will stand out.

Ultimately, getting into the SYA Summer Programs is competitive, but it’s not just about academic excellence or language proficiency. The admissions committee looks for well-rounded candidates who are passionate about cultural immersion and personal growth. Highlighting your unique experiences, qualities, and motivations in your application will help you stand out in the competitive selection process.

Final Thoughts

To wrap up, the School Year Abroad (SYA) Summer Programs offer an amazing chance for high school students to dive into new cultures, improve language skills, and grow in ways they never imagined. Whether you’re drawn to the beautiful cities of France, Italy, or Spain, these programs are designed to push your boundaries, expand your horizons, and prepare you for a global future. Remember, getting into SYA is about more than just good grades. It’s about showing your curiosity, your readiness to embrace new experiences, and your desire to learn from the world around you.

So, if you’re a high school student looking for an unforgettable summer experience, consider applying for the SYA Summer Programs. This is your chance to learn beyond the classroom, meet students from around the world, and gain insights that will benefit you for a lifetime. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the world, learn new things, and make memories that will last forever. Apply now and take the first step towards an incredible summer adventure with SYA.



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