An Org You Should Know: IES Abroad

It’s only fitting that the first study abroad company that I should profile is the very one that introduced me to my love of Italy specifically and travel in general – IES Abroad. IES Abroad just so happened to be one of the very few organizations that had a program in Milan – and the only one my university approved.  But if you are looking for a great, organized, well-established study abroad program, I’d highly recommend IES Abroad. Not only does IES operate in dozens of countries, but they also provide things like internships abroad, academic and diversity scholarships, and even blog (and vlog) hosting while you’re away!

Name: IES Abroad

Website: www.iesabroad.com

Twitter: @IESAbroad

Programs: Business and International Relations, Fine and Performing Arts, Science and Engineering, Communication and Media, Social and Behavioral Science, Language, Summer, Semester, January Term, Internships Abroad

Cost: Programs start at $3200 for January Term, $5500 for Summer, and $13000 for Spring, and $12000 for Fall – Don’t let those numbers scare you! IES Abroad has academic, need-based, program, legacy, and diversity scholarhips, grants, and discounts (also keep in mind that your tuition for your home institution is usually applied to that amount. At the end of the day I think I ended up paying $700 for my semester abroad experience.

Application Deadlines: To travel for the spring semester, deadlines are as early as October 1 through November 1 (so act now!). For summer and fall study abroad, deadlines begin in March.

Destinations: Tokyo, Rabat (Morocco), Cape Town, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, Shanghai, Galapagos, Barcelona, Delhi, European Union, Christchurch (New Zealand), and about 20 more cities!

What sets IES Abroad Apart:

  • The ability to get an International Internship (I was a Communications Intern at the European School of Economics during my study abroad). It looks amazing on a resume; but really – the experience itself is amazing without even considering a resume.
  • Two students who met during my semester in Italy got married this summer (such a better story than “we met on eharmony”.)
  • The genius of a January Term! Short-term study abroad for those of you who have a January Term at your university.
  • Blog and video blog hosting – click here to read some of the latest posts from students currently at one of IESAbroad’s over 90 programs!

Check out this video to see how studying abroad with IESAbroad can redefine your life:

How to Pick Your Study Abroad Destination?

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Actually I’m not going to tell you how to pick your destination. I’m going to let you know how I ended up going to Milan. I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want to go to one of the “most popular” destinations.  “Most popular” usually translates to “touristy” which then translates that I probably won’t get the most authentic international experience. Most of the time if there are 300 American kids in a foreign country in the same program, you won’t ever have the opportunity to really experience the country.  It’ll simply be an American experience on foreign soil.  So that immediately disqualified Paris and Rome. I definitely wanted to learn another language – so buh-bye London. I didn’t want that language to be Spanish – so adios Barcelona and Madrid.

I actually really knew I wanted to be in Italy. I’ve always had some kinda crush on all things Italian. Italian designers, Italian love, Italian leather, the language, and of course the food. I wanted to be in a “city” as opposed to a rural or small location.  I wanted to be able to explore and not experience everything within a month after I’d arrived. So that knocked out Torino (home of the Winter Olympics 2006), Venice, and Florence.  Besides, Florence was full of tourists AND it was small so No and No. Everyone there speaks English to you, unlike in Milan where NOONE will speak to you in English – even if they know how.  It’s kind of rude but I respected that. I didn’t want to come in and change their culture, I personally wanted to be changed (well my language skills at the very least).  I know this is why I was practically fluent in Italian by the time I left. The final reason was because of the opportunity to have an Internship abroad. Milan was one of the few programs that offered Internships – and that was important to me as a Business Marketing major.

So I ended up in Milan partially based on the process of elimination – but it definitely wasn’t an afterthought. I loved everything about that city and could definitely picture myself living there again. It’s the business capital of the country, the nightlife was great, it’s one of the Fashion Capitals of the World, the food is amazing, it’s close to everything, it has everything, it’s the home of Bocconi – one of Europe’s best business school’s, – not one, but TWO futbol teams, and so much more that I know I’m forgetting.

So how do you pick your study abroad destination? Be true to yourself and know what you like (and don’t like).  And if you end up picking a place and don’t like it (which won’t happen), you’re only there for a semester and with low-cost airlines such as Ryan Air and EasyJet, you can country hop and visit many other cities.

(If you’re wondering why I only mentioned places in Europe, I still wanted the opportunity visit those places I didn’t want to live in – and I did! I knew that going to Europe, because all of the major cities are relatively close together, would give me the best chance to visit more places.  Unlike if I were in say, Sydney, Australia, it would be more difficult to get around to other major cities. But now that I’ve “conquered” Europe, South America and Africa are next!)