AIFS: Study Abroad

AIFS Study Abroad

About

AIFS is a leading provider of study abroad programs. Since 1964, more than 1.5 million students have traveled abroad with AIFS. Comprehensive program fees make it convenient for students to study abroad and experience all that the world has to offer.

With over half a century in the industry, AIFS has the resources and experience to provide what students want and need in a study abroad program combined with the institutional strength to safeguard their welfare around the globe. Unlike many other study abroad programs or independent study options, AIFS program fees are guaranteed in U.S. dollars.

AIFS offers a wide range of unique programs in Asia, Australia, Europe, South Africa and the Americas. AIFS campuses typically offer courses in English and/or in foreign languages from beginner to advanced levels, so you don’t even need to know a foreign language to have the opportunity to study abroad.

Founded
1964
Headquarters

College Division
1 High Ridge Park
Stamford, CT 06905
United States

Reviews

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Gabriella
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Prague is stunning. I love everything about the city, it is absolutely the place to be. The AIFS staff on site were amazing. They are so helpful and are so excited to show students their city. The cultural events such as the opera are so fun. The AIFS tour guide Z is one of the kindest people ever and will show you places like Prague Castle and the Jewish Quarter. The included trip to Moravia was my favorite part of the whole experience. We had such good Czech food and saw beautiful underwater caves. Please go to Prague!!

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Lauren
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I studied abroad with AIFS in Salzburg, Austria in the Fall 2019 semester, and it completely changed my life! I always knew I wanted to study abroad, but had never been out of the country and didn’t know if I could really handle a whole semester living in a non-English-speaking country. But AIFS provided the perfect level of support; they include health and travel insurance, a meal plan, cultural excursions and activities, on-site staff, and so much more! Whether it was figuring out how to send/receive mail, navigating the healthcare system, or finding ways to get involved in the local community, the on-site AIFS staff was always there for anything I needed. But they also were incredible about allowing all students to shape their experiences however they wanted. This wonderful dichotomy was the perfect balance between challenging myself to figure things out independently, and always feeling like I could go to them with anything I needed.

The classes I took at AIFS were so engaging and interesting, and I really got the chance to see how they played out in real life! I took classes in Contemporary Austrian Culture, Art and Architecture History, International Conflicts and Resolution, and German. These courses allowed me to understand the historical and contemporary context that shapes Austrian culture. Not only that, but we were even able to do tours around the city observing different styles of historical architecture and art too! All of the courses that AIFS offered transferred back to my home institution easily, and even counted toward my double minors in German and Government, or for core credits!

Salzburg is the perfect place for anyone who wants a more intimate local experience due to its smaller size than other metropolitan areas, and is nestled right in the northern foothills of the Austrian Alps, so there are plenty of great hiking and outdoor adventure opportunities if you’re a nature person! It’s small enough to really get to know the city, but large enough to have everything you could need or want - restaurants, nightlife, museums, shopping malls, etc. Salzburg holds such a special place in my heart, and I owe my amazing experience all to AIFS for guiding me through the process, and allowing me to just focus on having the best time possible.

Something else that is unique to the AIFS experience is the level of alumni engagement. Coming back from abroad, I definitely experienced reverse culture shock, and was eager to connect with any of my peers that I could relate to and share stories of my time abroad with. I didn't really find that community at my home campus, but AIFS had so many opportunities to engage with other alumni from different programs and helped me find that community. It's clear the impact an AIFS experience has on people, because even those who studied abroad with AIFS more than 20 years ago still connect with each other through alumni social media pages! I can't recommend studying in Salzburg and going with AIFS enough!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Push yourself outside of your comfort zone and try to learn the language! German is an intimidating language to start learning, but it is so so worth it to be able to fully immerse yourself with the locals. Salzburg has a very young population and many international students there, so you'll get by fine with English, but I would definitely recommend seeking out different ways to engage with the community and language!

Also, Salzburg has such a variety of activities you can do - you can delve into its rich art and musical history at Mozart's birthplace, the Domplatz, and the iconic Fortress! You can also do smaller hikes at Gaisburg, Kapuzinerberg, or the Untersberg, or go further into the Alps for more rigorous mountaineering only a short train ride away! The world is truly at your fingertips in Salzburg, so I recommend saying 'yes' to whatever you may come across, because you'll be amazed by the experiences you can have!
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Patrick
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My experience abroad was incredible. Although my semester was cut short due to COVID-19, AIFS made my time in Italy so exciting. The housing offered through AIFS is perfect, centrally located throughout the city and are filled with plenty of character and culture. If you choose the apartment living style in Florence you are no more than a 25-min walk from the university and walking distance to all your friends/peers apartments and major attractions in the city. AIFS is very caring and attentive and when we had an issue with out shower they sent someone to fix it within the hour of our call. AIFS also provides a great list of activities and field trips to take outside of class that are usually free or at a very low price. Activities included cooking classes (making homemade ravioli, and tiramisu), trips to Venice and other cities around Florence, and reduced tickets to Florentine Soccer Matches, ballets, operas and other performances. These cultural activities allow you to feel more accustomed and like this city really is your new home. The knowledge from these activities give you a better understanding of the culture of your host city more than any class could. The professors and staff at the University of Richmond Florence are extremely intelligent and caring. They took such grate care of all students and really made sure they knew every student at the school and said hello to them everyday. The professors were passionate about their topics and it showed through their teaching. The classes were interesting and went by so fast because of how hands on they were. Professors took classes on field trips many times throughout the semester to give students a better understanding of the material and they also believed that students could learn more outside of the classroom. When we unfortunately had to go online due to COVID-19 our professors were extremely helpful in that transition from in-person class in Italy to online class in our American homes. The classes from home were still as interesting and mostly the same as before we left in Italy. Lastly, AIFS also offers a meal plan that gives you access to a large majority of restaurants located throughout the city. These restaurants are delicious and provide authentic experiences of living and eating in Italy while offering some of the most delicious food you could get in the city. With our meal vouchers we were able to enjoy the city and dine out most nights making my friends and I really feel like Florence was our new home. We even made friends with one of the waiters who worked at our favorite restaurant! AIFS was the perfect choice for me and this was proven with how the staff, faculty and professors handled the COVID-19 pandemic and how they helped get us all home safely and quickly. I am so thankful for AIFS for offering me this experience and making the time I spent in Florence, Italy some of the best memories of my life.

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Whitney
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My time in Grenoble, France was the best decision I have ever made for myself. Everything from the views, to my host family, to my new friends, was AMAZING. My time abroad is something that I will cherish forever, and I want everybody to experience what I did. Through AIFS, I was able to do so many things that I would have never gotten to do. We went snowshoeing in the mountains, tried authentic French cheese, made crepes, and so much more. Not only was I able to explore Grenoble, but I was fortunate enough to go to several other countries. These experiences are once in a lifetime and I hope one day to return to all of the places I visited. I am so thankful that I took the leap to study abroad. If you are on the fence, just do it! You most likely won't get an opportunity like this outside of college.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would make sure to take in every opportunity that I am given. I do not regret anything, but I do wish that I had traveled more than I did.
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Morgan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Studying abroad in London through AIFS was one of the best experiences of my life! AIFS made the entire process of studying abroad as seamless as possible. The was able to answer any questions I had before, during, and after the program. When studying abroad through AIFS in London you get to live and learn in one of the most wonderful areas of London. There are several museums within walking distance of the dorms as well as multiple tube stops. The central location of the facilities allows for you to travel all over London, and even the UK.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Try a new style of cuisine each day! London is full of culture and is home to some of the most amazing food. I would recommend trying a new restaurant or type of food whenever you can!

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose AIFS because of the incredible resources and great pricing. With the all-inclusive pricing model, I knew what I could expect to spend prior to going abroad.

I also knew that I would have a resident director in Hungary for all of my needs and that made both myself and my parents feel confident in the choice of AIFS. AIFS is also one of the few programs offering courses in Hungary and I knew I wanted to study there.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My program provider organized housing, weekend excursions, class options, transportation to Hungary, a meal plan and on-site assistance. You had to register for your classes, plan additional excursions, and manage your finances above the allowance they gave you. With the pricing in Hungary, you could manage pretty well with the meal plan provided.

The excursions were the best I went on offering unique and informative visits by locals in each place we visited. The housing was also very safe and conveniently located.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Have an open mind.

I was a picky eater and very frugal and still am, but when I was abroad, I told myself that I needed to make the purchase and try the weird food because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You will never regret trying all of the tapas, the herring, etc., even if it is disgusting and you never want to eat it again it will be a story.

When people tell you later something was great and you know you intentionally missed out on it, you will regret it. My goal going abroad was to have no regrets and I succeeded and if I did it all over again I wouldn't change a thing.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

The average day/week varied from participant to participant.

Students had anywhere from 2-5 days of classes per week. Some students traveled every weekend, some once a month and some only on program excursions (2-3 times the semester).

Classes were really interesting and a large variety were offered. All of my classes were business-related taught by people with real-life experience. I also was required to take a Hungarian class, which made getting around the city so much more fun, though English is very frequently spoken in Hungary.

Other people in my program took walking tours of Hungary, the history of Hungary, and the film of Hungary. All of these were great because they were learning about the place they were living in, which makes it so much better to learn about as you can see where things happened.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was safety. In order to combat this, I made sure to be extra safe when traveling alone.

As a solo female traveler, I knew I was going to be a target. I made sure to stay in safe areas of cities, not be out late at night and when I was out, to stay in heavily populated areas.

As I got more into my time abroad, I realized that eastern Europe is very safe. I never felt in danger of walking home from school from my night class or walking home from dinner with friends. People really left you alone if you kept to yourself and weren't very obviously a loud and obnoxious person. Now I feel much more confident in my ability to avoid trouble, but I also know that I can never ignore my safety and must always prioritize it.

Is there any other advice for prospective travelers?

Make the most of your experience.

It seems obvious but there is never a time in your life when you will have fewer responsibilities, more flexibility and more time to do this. Studying abroad was the greatest experience of my life and I would do it again in a heartbeat. If you have the opportunity to study abroad, grab it and don't let go. Make the most of your college experience and enhance it with this incredible way to go outside your comfort zone.

You will never regret it.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

What position do you hold at AIFS and what has been your career path?

I am the AIFS RD at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. I studied at Stellenbosch University and received both a BA (Hons) degree in Psychology and a Post Graduate diploma in Education. I taught English at an all-girls school in Stellenbosch for five years.

In addition, I had my own bookshop called Anchorage Book Gallery in Stellenbosch. I then turned my attention toward sports traveling to Europe from 1992 – 1995 every few months playing field hockey. In January of 2003 I started my position at AIFS.

Do you think study abroad will change?

I think that there will be a fundamental shift in thinking how study abroad realizes its educational potential. It may to find other ways of internationalizing the way Americans think which does not necessary means the mobilization of them across the waters. There has been huge growth in Service Providers, but it would be interesting to see where the participation lies.

To me, the student who currently studies abroad is the same student who studied abroad 20 years ago. We just have more of “’them”’ in the States! The fundamental shift will have to be to go back to the basics of what it means to interact across difference and how this achieves learning outcome.

Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?

I am passionate about the complexity of our cultures. Living in my country the last 40 years with 11 official languages, where at any given time, almost everybody can speak 2 or 3 languages fluently makes me passionate about the possibility in successful interactions across huge dimensions and differences. I want my students to experience this…but they must be willing to work hard and bring themselves to the table.

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of the AIFS team.

A proud moment was when Alumni from years 2003 – 2011 organized an event in New York where we could all celebrate the amazing shared experiences they were all part of during their times with AIFS in South Africa. This initiative showed me how they really felt about being here.

What does your home-country's culture value that is taught in your program?

Because of our complex political history and all the mistakes we have made through generations and generations, the people of our country have a unique way of dealing with our past. Setting up a Truth and Reconciliation committee is one such example where a value of “’take responsibility for your actions”; has been engrained in our nation. American Study abroad students are often silent when they are challenged to always take responsibility for their actions, to always own their actions and to move forward and grow. They are challenged until they actually own it, even if it takes months.

Professional Associations