From Arrival to Adieu: The HSA Experience

Imagine stepping off the plane into a new country, ready to explore a vibrant culture and meet friends from around the world. This is the reality for every CIEE High School Semester (HSA) student, both past and present. Right now, Spring 2024 students are arriving at their international destinations and are brimming with excitement and anticipation. Meanwhile, recent alumni, with tearful goodbyes fresh on their minds, are already planning return visits. Curious what it's like to be a student on one of CIEE's HSA programs? Read more about their stories below.

Arriving at Their New Homes

Our CIEE Spring 2024 HSA students recently arrived at their new homes, eager to embrace diverse cultures and forge lasting connections. For every student, the moment of arrival marks the beginning of an exciting journey in a new diverse environment. For many students, this is their first time traveling alone to a foreign country. They are each greeted at the airport by their host families and taken to their temporary home away from home. For HSA Seville alumnus, Marrisa Guajardo, the time spent with her host family was one of the most transformative parts of her experience!

High school student posing with host family in Seville, Spain

“I was paired with a host family that wanted the same things out of a CIEE student that I wished for in a family, and from there we did so many activities throughout the 3 months I lived with them. We went hiking, bike riding, made meals (both Spanish and recipes I've learned from my family), played games, and traveled to see new places and extended family. It was my first time abroad and of course, experiencing the new places and culture was amazing, but what was truly unforgettable was the bond I created with my family.” 

During Marissa’s time abroad, she traveled with her host family and was fully immersed in the Spanish culture. From visiting museums to dancing at local festivals, Marissa formed a long-lasting bond with her host family that shaped her experience living abroad. Her journey is an amazing example of the connections and experiences students can have when they participate in an HSA program. 

High school student hanging out with host family in Seville

Saying Goodbye

High school student saying goodbye to host parent at airport

Leaving your host family at the end of your HSA experience can be bittersweet. Our Fall 2023 cohort recently said a tearful goodbye in Seville, Spain. Take a look at the heartwarming airport send offs!

Although saying goodbye to your host family can be difficult, for some HSA alumni, it's just a “see you later”! We have many alumni who have kept in touch with their host families once the program is completed. It's wonderful to hear that the CIEE experience has continued on for so many students! 

“They took me into their family as their own daughter, and even now 2 years later when I visit them and meet their new friends, they refer to me as their hija Americana.” -Marrisa G.

“A quote that's stuck with me throughout my time in Spain and since then is actually one that [Raquel, a CIEE staff member] told us: "the world is a more welcoming place when you're learning" and that's inspired me to keep learning. Not even just now going into university but hopefully for many years after that. I believe I'll always be learning about something in life and that's something to be cherished.” - Jolie D.

“I learned to navigate the world on my own both physically and emotionally -- my experience transitioning into college was significantly easier than most people around me because I had already gone through a similar experience and learned how to live away from home.” -Trudi A.

High school student hugging host family on departure day

Each HSA student has a unique experience abroad, some discover new passions and interests while others create lifelong friendships and connections. W e are proud to be a part of each student's international journey, from the excitement of arriving in a new country to the tearful goodbyes. 

Explore CIEE HSA programs today!