Trips, Exchanges, and Study Away

The Upper School offers a number of opportunities for off-campus experiences, including the Odyssey wildnerness trip; international World Language exchanges in China, Germany, France, and Spain; and a Junior Semester Away program.


The SPA Odyssey program, which takes place in March over Spring Break, is based on a rigorous wilderness challenge; the core of the program is a strenuous seven-day backpacking expedition. With more than 40 years of history at St. Paul Academy and Summit School, Odyssey is an important part of our educational tradition.  

Utilizing wilderness areas in the Utah Canyonlands, the course provides an opportunity for students to experience an extraordinarily beautiful part of the country. SPA faculty members who have extensive wilderness experience and first aid training lead the Odyssey program expeditions. Students do not need camping experience to participate, and SPA provides the majority of the gear and equipment needed for the trip.

Odyssey is both a journey in the wilderness and an inner journey designed for personal growth. Odyssey is about putting your life in perspective and discovering what is really important. Students will test and extend their limits of physical and emotional endurance, have responsibilities that demand action, build self-awareness and self-confidence, learn about their natural environment and their own relationship to it, and develop mindfulness, understanding, and compassion for themselves and others.

The Odyssey application for 2016-17 will be available in late fall 2016.  For reference, view the application for spring 2016.

World Language Exchanges

The World Language department offers students in each of our four language options the opportunity to experience world cultures and languages through travel and exchange programs in China, France, Spain, and Germany. 

These programs are reciprocal exchanges, during which students host exchange students in the fall and then travel to visit them in their home country the following spring during SPA's Spring Break at the end of March.  The exchanges are designed primarily for students in Grades 11 and 12 who are in a third-level language course or above. Between the four programs, slight variations occur in regard to age and grade level requirements and travel dates.

Junior Semester Away Program

Students in Grade 11 who are interested in experiencing a new intellectual community or exploring a particular interest in depth are encouraged to explore one of SPA's five endorsed Junior Semester Away programs.  All of these endorsed programs offer rigorous academic experiences; students who participate will receive SPA course credit towards their graduation requirements, and SPA will hold the student's place in their class.

The planning process for a Junior Semester Away begins in October of the sophomore year, when all students in Grade 10 attend a presentation from representatives of each semester program.  Students interested in pursuing a program then meet with Mary Hill, Director of College Counseling and Academic Planning, to discuss their interest in semester away and to begin planning their future academic program at SPA. 
1150 Goodrich Avenue, St. Paul MN 55105
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1712 Randolph Avenue, St. Paul MN 55105
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