Program Highlight: Study Abroad in San Sebastián, Spain

Live in a multicultural city by the ocean when you study abroad in San Sebastián, Spain. If you’re looking to learn about the Spanish and Basque culture while exploring Spain’s northern coast, then San Sebastián is the place for you. You can take a variety of courses, including culinary and surf classes (for credit), and the USAC San Sebastián program offers a variety of excursions in Spain and the French Basque Country. Often called the “Paris of Spain,” San Sebastián is nestled twelve miles from the French border at the foot of the deep green Pyrenees Mountains in the province of Gipuzkoa. San Sebastián enjoys a perfect location for exploring Spain, the Basque Country, and southwestern France. The city itself is easy to get around—many students ride bikes or walk to classes—and has several beaches to enjoy.

Academic Focus

Spanish Language, Basque, Psychology, and European Studies

Host University
Universidad del País Vasco

USAC offices, classrooms, and dining facilities are located at the modern 12,000-student San Sebastián campus of the Universidad del País Vasco (University of the Basque Country). You’ll have easy access to WIFI across campus, and advanced semester Spanish students can direct enroll in Education Courses and Teaching Spanish Literature in Elementary and Secondary Schools.

Interesting fact about the city

Surfing the Basque Country has become a popular slogan that you will see illuminated throughout the city. San Sebastián has always been revered for its soft, picturesque beaches, but over the past few decades, it has transcended into a hub for surfers all throughout Europe and the world.

Best weekend travel destinations

San Sebastián’s location makes it easy to see a variety of historical and beautiful cities throughout Spain and southwestern France. Easy weekend trips can be taken to some of Spain’s most popular locations including Madrid, Valencia, Seville or Alicante. If you’re looking for an island adventure you can head to Mallorca, one of Spain’s Balearic Islands known for its beach resorts, coves, mountains and Roman and Moorish ruins. You’re also a short plane flight away from Portugal and Eastern Europe. And if you’re looking for a road-trip, a three-hour drive will put you in the famous city of Bordeaux, France. Essentially, Europe is your oyster when you study abroad in San Sebastián. Before you book your travel, be sure to take a look at the field trips and tours listed below as these are included in your program fees (aside from the optional tour), and will take you to some of your top destinations!

Field trips (vary by term)

Travel to the charming capital city of Bizkaia and tour the world-famous Guggenheim museum, an amazing structure representing the architecture of the millennium.

Visit the historic city of Burgos with its magnificent cathedral and explore Atapuerca, one of the most important anthropological sites in Europe.

French Basque Country
Visit the memorable city of Bayonne and the stunning summer resort of Biarritz.

Province of Guipuzcoa
Visit the mountain sanctuary of Arantzazu, and discover the fascinating geology of the coast.

Hike in the Pyrenees and explore the witches’ cave of Zugarramurdi.

Madrid Tour and Field Study
The optional Madrid Tour can be taken as a Field Study course; you will be expected to keep a journal and answer a series of questions about the sites visited. Upon arrival in San Sebastián, you will have follow-up meetings with a professor and take a final exam. The written work may be completed in Spanish or in English.

Santillana del Mar
Feel as if you went back to the Middle Ages exploring “the most beautiful town in Spain” on this overnight field trip, including a visit to an exact replica of Paleolithic cave paintings in Altamira.

What students have to say

“The USAC San Sebastian program offers helpful and insightful classes, teaching and other internships, conversation partners to practice Spanish or Basque, and great opportunities to explore the Basque Country and other areas of Spain. Studying abroad was the greatest experience of my life so far, and I met friends and fell in love with a new culture that I know will always be a part of my life. Now that I’m home, I’m a completely different person for the better, and every day I’m working towards a way to get back to Spain! USAC opened my eyes to a completely new life that I couldn’t imagine living without, you will, without a doubt, have an amazing experience when you go abroad with USAC.” – Carolann Cavallo

“Living in Spain was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Many people can say that about their trip abroad, but I really do believe it to be true. I had the chance to really experience the Basque Country and try to integrate with an unfamiliar culture. The people were welcoming and excited to tell you about their history and culture.The food was awesome, though you might miss spicy food, they more than makeup for it with delicious pintxos (Basque finger foods). The teachers were always willing to help and made it a goal to get you talking and excited about the language. I did feel that I didn’t meet as many locals as I could have, but I stayed with a host family so I had the chance to speak with them to practice my Spanish. The people were awesome and I would have loved to live there because of the people alone, but the beautiful beaches and great city helped too!” – Brian Lester

Additional articles about San Sebastián

San Sebastián – Why You Should be Eating and Cooking Here
Alumni Q&A: Gabriel Urza
San Sebastián Students Translate Their Way Onto Amazon


Hiking the Pyrenees San Sebastian Cooking Class San Sebastian Field Trip

Explore Studying Abroad in San Sebastián