Colegios privados en familia, área de Los Ángeles, California

Borja Pérez-Mínguez | Travel blog

Para aquellos estudiantes que prefieran un entorno mucho más cálido, con muchas horas de sol, buen tiempo todo el año, apasionados de la playa, las ciencias marinas, la vela o el surf,  en el programa de año escolar en colegios privados en Estados Unidos, contamos también con espectaculares opciones en las zonas de California, Florida o Hawái.

En este viaje, pudimos visitar los mejores colegios privados con estancia en familia situados en algunas de las mejores zonas del sur de California.

El entorno es realmente privilegiado ya que combina colegios de primer nivel, con más del 90% de estudiantes americanos, apenas hispanohablantes y situados en ciudades de poder adquisitivo alto, con fácil acceso a algunas de las mejores playas del mundo, cómodos traslados desde el aeropuerto y actividades urbanas de todo tipo con la ciudad de Los Ángeles como principal reclamo.

Entre las muchas actividades a disposición de los estudiantes destacan los viajes a Hollywood, outlets de ropa para ir de compras,  visitas a parques de atracciones como Disneyland, o disfrutar de partidos de la NBA con los Angeles Lakers o los Dodgers de baseball por poner unos ejemplos.

Académicamente, todos los colegios que seleccionamos en el programa de colegios privados en California, destacan por ofrecer todo tipo de optativas con asignaturas como ingeniería, económicas, empresariales, robótica y todo lo relacionado con las nuevas tecnologías, desarrollo de aplicaciones, realidad virtual, impresoras 3D, diseño gráfico o de código web gracias a su cercanía a la mayor zona de influencia tecnológica del mundo: Silicon Valley y acuerdos con las universidades de la zona. 

En el siguiente enlace podrá encontrar todas las características del programa: https://www.internationalacademicprograms.es/usa-familia/

 

Ireland: Public and private schools with host family.

Borja Pérez-Mínguez | Travel blog

Last October we were able to visit and select some of the best public and private schools in Ireland, one of the most demanded available academic programs. Thanks to the proximity to any European country (barely a couple of hours to Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Rome, Munich or Vienna) with direct flights to Dublin and a very affordable cost (11.500€ + our fees 4.000€ + VAT), it has become one of the best options for studying abroad.

It’s essential to keep in mind Ireland is a traditional and rural country (except Dublin, the capital and a couple more major cities), and therefore it’s very important to have real expectations about the program so there is no cultural shock upon arrival. The Irish citizens usually live in very quite and safe medium sized towns where everybody knows each other, and the host families normally are composed of hard working people who come from modest backgrounds so it’s very important the international students know what to expect regarding the towns, houses and income of the families. This way they can appreciate what they have back at their home countries and enjoy a more rural experience.

Another major feature of the Ireland program in ubdoubtedly it’s weather since almost every single day of the year the sky will be cloudy and of course they will have some rain so it takes a while for international students to adapt to their new environment. In Ireland there are also less daily hours of sun light than in any other European country like Spain or Italy and therefore at 18h it usually starts to get dark so every student should always be at home by then, and it will take a while for them to settle to the Irish way of life

If the students have an open mind and quickly understand the school will always be their main entertainment source, after a few adjustment weeks they will start taking full advantage of the program and live a great experience. The options offered are very diverse since every center will have many different extracurricular activities like soccer, basketball, field hockey, rugby, music, performing arts, or chorus among many others.  Here at International Academic Programs we always encourage our students to get out of their comfort zone and try new sports and programs since those are the best ways to improve their English skills and make new friends.

As long as the students understand the above mentioned premises of the academic year in Ireland and try to make the most of the experience, the program will be a success, but for students who can’t see themselves in a rural environment, schools with modest facilities or host families with humble incomes, the best option would be finding an alternative program or destination like Canada or the United States.

Included in the cost of the academic year each student will get their own Student Advisor for the entire length of the program and this local figure will meet each candidate once a month to discuss about their academic performance, English level, and relation with the host family. After every visit we will receive a report talking about these matters so parents can always be informed. It’s very important the students are completely honest with their advisors and talk about anything they may need since they will be in charge of the students and their only purpose is to make sure they are happy and making the most of the program.

Regarding the schools, in our trip we got to visit the best public ones and some of them offered very atractive academic programs with many options like engineering, technology, robotics, web design, coding, woodshop and modern facilities like 3D printers or laser cuts.

We also got to visit the capital of the country, Dublin, one of the most characteristic European cities visited by thousands of tourists each year and with a wide range of recreational activities like restaurants, movie theaters, shopping malls, parks, rivers, and all kinds of historic sightseeing locations. We were happily surprised by the incredible Phoenix Park, with hundreds of wild deers living freely in it and one the biggest parks in Europe, also the place of residence of the President of Ireland and the American Ambassador.

In order to live the full experience Ireland has to offer we always encourage parents to visit their children and spend at least one weekend in Dublin since it’s one of the most exciting European capitals and completely different from the rest of the country.

Regarding the Irish academic system, the grades are divided in two different cycles:

  • From 1st Year (12 years old) to 3rd Year (14 years old) the last academic year of the Junior Cycle with the official Junior Certificate exams at the end of it.
  • From 4th Year (15 years old)  to 6th Year (17 years old) the last academic year of the Senior Cycle and the year before university. They also have the official Leaving Certificate exams at the end of it.

Due to the specific features of the Irish academic system there are 3 grades to specially consider:

  • 3rd Year. At the end of the academic year every student must take and succesfully pass the official Junior Certificate exams to validate the year at their home countries so it will be a challenging academic year.
  • 4th Year, also called Transition Year. This would be by far the academic year with more international students in Ireland. As it’s name states is an academic year of transition between the above mentioned cycles and therefore the academic load will be significantly lower than any other grade. For these reasons the students get to focus in making the most of the experience with all kinds of field trips, teamwork presentations, personal research projects and even 2-4 week mandatory internships at the local business of their choice. Thanks to this first work experience the students get to taste the labour market and improve their self confidence while they learn how to prepare their own professional résumé and deal with real customers and assignments.
  • 6th Year. Due to the heavy academic load and the official Leaving Certificate exams at the end of the academic year most schools won’t consider international students for this grade, unless their English level is very high and the student is very academic.

Therefore, the academic year program in Ireland is a great alternative for mature and resilient international students willing to adapt to the Irish culture and rural environment.

At the following link you will find all the details of the program: https://www.internationalacademicprograms.es/en/ireland/

 

Private schools with host family in USA: Florida.

Borja Pérez-Mínguez | Travel blog

Last September we travelled to the coast of Florida to visit and select the best private schools in the state, both boarding and homestay options.

In this occasion I brought Diego with me, my 15 year old nephew, since we are going to send him to the United States to study for one academic year and the best way to select the perfect school is always visiting it.

In order to make the most of the week we rented a convertible Mustang (I always wanted to drive such an iconic American car) and drove across the entire east coast of Florida in around 10 hours starting in Miami, and driving through Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Palm Beach, Melbourne, Ocala and Orlando and selecting the best private schools in each area.

Right after the arrival you can immediately see the Spanish heritage Florida has in many areas like architecture, culture, folkore, food, and lenguage, very similar to the traditions we have in Spain. Specially in Miami where many of the citizens are both fluent in English and Spanish.

Thanks to the semi tropical climate, Florida is undoubtedly one of the best options for international academic year candidates who prefer a warm weather and beach related activities rather than the cold states located in the north, like the New England area, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Chicago, or New York to say a few. Florida is always warm and sunny and therefore is a perfect destination for surf lovers, marine biology enthusiastics, and students who prefer warm environments and have no ski interests.

This privileged weather allows students to participate in outside sports all year long with a wide range of options like soccer, golf, lacrosse, swimming, tennis or field hockey among many others. Besides the school teams, the students have the option to join local clubs where they can play those sports during the entire length of the academic year program.

Florida is a state with a very strong sport tradition and all boarding schools compete at the highest level in very different specialties and tournaments, from regional competition to state or even national championships.  For these reasons many of the students in these schools are competitive athletes and thanks to their performances and academic results, they may obtain merit scholarships or financial aid for becoming important assets to the centers.

Regarding weekend activities and once the students have finished all their academic and sport obligations, the idyllic environment of Florida allows many spectacular options like trips to the beach, surf programs, water parks, amusement parks like Disney, Universal Studios and Adventure Island, etc. The same goes for urban activities like NBA games, football games, baseball, movies, restaurants, shopping centers, etc.

The private catholic schools with host famly options are located in different areas, some of them located by spectacular beaches, and others close to major cities. Like always, in order to select the best school for each candidate it’s essential to stablish the student’s main interests.

Every school we promote at International Academic Programs has the College Prep designation, so all students are guided by their College Counselors to obtain places at the best universities of the United States.

Being schools with catholic tradition, every student will have a religion or thelogy class during the entire length of the program.

All schools offer a wide range of academic opportunities so every student gets to choose elective subjects based on their interests.

Regarding sports, every school offers many different specialties and the students get to practice up to 3 sports during the entire academic year, one in each specific season. Some of the programs are soccer, tennis, basketball, swimming, track and field, etc. Some even offer incredible equestrian programs.

For art enthusiastics the schools offer options like music, chorus, performing arts, orchestra, dance, drama, media studies, movie and tv production or even drone pilotage .

The host families the program selects are always the best families in the area, most of them have years of experience and some relation with the school: being former students, staff members, teachers, coaches or even having actual students at the schools.

Every international student we met mentioned they all felt like at home with their host families since they saw themselves as members of the American family. All houses are located in very safe and high income communities. The host families are the ones arranging every transfer from and to the airport, weekend transportation, etc.

About the uniforms, every school has similar options like shorts and polos of different colors for boys and girls.

At the following link you will find all the details of the program: https://www.internationalacademicprograms.es/en/usa-family/