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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.

Reviews

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Monica
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

AIFS Study Abroad Semester in Florence

A kind of fun fact about my study abroad experience is that I knew absolutely nobody because I had to petition to my university's study abroad center so I would be able to do my particular program. I chose my particular program because I wanted to be able to have an experience that revolved around Italian Renaissance art, but wanted to be able to spend a whole semester in Italy as opposed to a few weeks during the summer. My program was perfect for an immersive experience, but the school itself was a bit rigorous with very limited absences permitted and lots of schoolwork. While the grades and schoolwork were a lot at times, I did feel like my art skills weren't pushed because I was one of the few art majors so instead of increasing my skillset in painting or drawing, I was treated as an example and didn't really improve. If I did have questions, my professor would do it for me which wasn't very helpful nor was having limited studio hours. I did enjoy having the ability to do still life drawings and paintings outside of class in the beauty of Florence, which was a unique experience I treasure to this day. Pros of this program were that our meal plan was "tickets" that acted as vouchers for a list of restaurants so we could properly try Italian food without breaking the bank, a range of activities to sign up for (like going to a vineyard to pick grapes or having appretivo with Italians), access to notable Italian locations (museums, architecture), three optional group trips within Italy (Siena, Venice, Rome) which also allowed time to explore the city, and great housing options that allowed one to feel like they were really living in the hub of Florence. I would do it all again in a heartbeat, mainly for the food and wine of course haha.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Florence is one of the most exciting cities to live in with its richness in culture and accessibility to other cities via the Santa Maria Novella train station. Really make Florence your own by becoming a regular at a cafe or restaurant so that they begin to recognize you, attending the different events the city has to offer (like the Gelato Festival or the Christmas Market at Santa Croce), hang out at Santo Spirito and meet the locals, and/or try to find what the city has to offer outside of the main hub (like olive oil tastings or going on a bus to get the best view of the city). Of course travel everywhere you possibly can go, but don't forget to take advantage of how you are essentially living in Florence and you get to make it your own.
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Catherine
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Certainty in Uncertain Times

Studying abroad with AIFS was life changing and exciting. I studies abroad the Spring semester of 2021 and for the first part of the semester I spent my time exploring not just the magical city of Prague, but the surrounding cities as well. AIFS does a great job of planning activities for the students that vary by interests so there is always something for someone to be doing. In addition, AIFS highlights the Czech culture very well during orientation and shows the students that the Czech Republic is more than just Prague. I was able to attend great classes taught by brilliant professors and really explore all of the secret hidden gems of Prague.

After the first half of my study abroad experience, the COVID-19 virus began to spread. As the virus swept through the continent, AIFS remained calm and was able to provide every student with the support they needed to return to their home country safely. During such stressful times, AIFS relieved many of my anxieties. Putting the students safety and health before anything else, AIFS generously worked with students throughout the pandemic to create a safe environment for studying abroad.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Saw a castle that had a special place where bears were kept!
Default avatar
Rogelio
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Merci Beaucoup Paris!

I arrived in Paris not knowing if I made the right choice, however that instantly changed my mind once I realized the endless memories I was making. The AIFS staff was there to help 24/7 no matter the time in day. My professor was amazing! We got to explore more of the city and discover the rich history of Paris. The locals were amazing in assisting my classmates and myself whenever we needed directions or extra guidance. My homestay was close to my school and to the AIFS office. Within a short walk, I was able to get things done whether it was to go to the market, Downtown Paris, or just wonder around.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
One thing I would change for myself would be I would take more pictures of everything! I took a lot, however I wished I took more to live up the memories more while I am here in the U.S.
Default avatar
Sara
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

10/10 would recommend!!!

I'm forever thankful that I chose Grenoble as the city I would call my second home! This city was the perfect mix of history, culture, and individuality - there is undoubtedly something for everyone here. The number one recommendation I have for anyone who wants to leave their time abroad feeling immersed and connected, instead of traveling every weekend, make an effort to take part in many of the cultural experiences the city has to offer all year long. I made some of my favorite memories attending operas, visiting museums, and hiking the French Alps with my host family!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Foie gras, otherwise known as duck liver (yuck)!!!
Default avatar
Emma
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Couldn't have been any better

Prague is the place to experience many new things and I guarantee you will quickly fall in love. I was abroad in the spring of 2020 when the global pandemic hit, so we did have to come home early. However, even with 2 months less, it was still one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The AIFS Prague staff are there for anything you need from a friendly conversation, to important questions, to leading students of cultural excursions included in the AIFS package. I still know I can talk to them whenever I need to about the program, future travels, or just life. I found the city to be intimidating at first, but then not even a month later it felt like home. I would want to go to the store by myself, or even purposefully get lost on the tram. I wish I could go back right now and explore more because it is limitless what you can do in that city.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Take time to look around and appreciate where you are, even if you're just riding on the tram to class, or walking with friends home. Also take tons of pictures, there can never be enough!

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