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

Scholarships

AIFS Study Abroad Scholarships
AIFS Study Abroad Scholarships, Grants & Financial Support

We believe a study abroad experience is an essential component of well-rounded university education and we are committed to providing financial assistance to as many students as possible in support of their goal to study abroad.

Value
$500 - $5,000

Reviews

Default avatar
Madeline
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Every international experience helps you grow and provides context for your own life and experiences. But none of my prior experiences have opened my mind quite in the same way that this program did!

I selected this program because it was on a continent I'd not yet journeyed to and because it fell within the guidelines of the research grant I was awarded that summer. While short (8 weeks or so flies by so fast!), I felt challenged by the classes and cared for by the staff and local students. That's right, I said local students! Getting to meet and spend time with locals is unfortunately not always a given during academic-focused programs, but this unique program uses a crew of local volunteers who take classes with you (this is their winter term, so they are giving up their school break to hang out with international students - so cool), live in the dorms with you, and help guide your transition to the new city. By the end of the experience, it felt like a private school full of international friends.

In addition to that component, two other things really stand out about this AIFS experience: 1) The option to take part in a Garden Route one week tour when the classes are done. Your classes are finished, you've made close friendships, you've had a unique culture experience and now you get to take it on the road for a week! So fun and solidified the friendships I had made in the previous weeks. 2) The classes are interactive, exploratory, and created to open your mind beyond the classroom. I am struggling to think of a single course I took that didn't have a field trip or cultural experience linked to it. Taking the class about HIV & AIDS in South Africa? Well, not only do you learn about how it is affecting the nation, but you actually go to a site where locals are working to create legal action to make the change and get to sit down with them. Taking any class about Apartheid? You are learning in a classroom where political decisions were made about this injustice and learning from teachers who participated in the first open elections. You visit townships to see first hand how that still plays out in today's society.

It's not for the faint of heart, but it will open your heart in a big way.

What would you improve about this program?
There are certain aspects of the program that cannot really be helped, but there are a few things to know before committing (that you may or may not understand from the brochure):
1) Although it may be your summer term, it is taking place over South African winter break. While I mentioned that there are a wonderful crew of local students to interact with, the rest of the campus is mostly empty because students are gone visiting their families. If you were looking for a busy city and lots of students hogging the cafeteria, you may need to adjust your expectations or do one of their semester programs.
2) The dorms are comfortable and safe, but there were quite a few of my fellow students who were disappointed with the food and cleanliness. Keep in mind that cleanliness, access to certain foods, and hot water are all cultural expectations of the USA - don't expect to find things exactly to your liking all the time. That's where the growing and gratitude happens!
Default avatar
Megan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved my study abroad experience! I chose to go abroad with The American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) because they were very up-front about everything and didn't leave me wondering what my final price would be or what was included or not included. Their website is super easy to navigate and compare locations and programs! For every program, there is one director to help with pre-departure information like visas and class schedules, and once you arrive there is an on-site director that helps with the transition and plans all of the events to meet everyone in your program. Both of my directors were amazing and answered every question I had. Barcelona is an amazing city that is changing every day, literally. The Sagrada Familia is still in construction and has been for over a century. Even unfinished, it is my favorite part of the city and it will be so amazing to go back one day when it is finished and know that I was there during a major time of progress. Overall, I chose the best city for my study abroad experience and chose the best provider to go with!

Default avatar
AISHA
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I did a J-Term in January 2019 with AIFS in Costa Rica. It was a lovely and fun trip. I loved Costa Rican culture. The people were so friendly and my host family was so kind to me. Their culture is so relaxed and I felt welcomed there. We were doing something different everyday. I took a tour of San Jose, I visited different restaurants, I went to the malls, we went to Manuel Antonio (which is amazingly beautiful), I visited a volcano, a church, and a haunted house in Cartago, I visited museums, saw all types of cool animals, I saw a waterfall, and got to taste some amazing food. The staff of AIFS were so friendly and made sure we had a good time. It was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. The only thing I wish was that I did a semester abroad, but J-Term was good since our group was very small and I got to know the other people better (the semester program has a lot of people).

What would you improve about this program?
I would not improve anything because I felt like everything was executed well in the program.
Default avatar
Jennifer
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had an amazing experience and loved the location and the staff. My homestay mom was great! She cooked amazing food, was such a sweetheart and treated me like if I was her own daughter with so much love! I loved the excursion to Morocco, it was well organized and I had a great experience. Im happy I was able to see Morocco with AIFS because I don't know how I would've travelled their on my own. AIFS offers so many scholarships and made it possible despite of the roadblocks. I was able to win a scholarship of over $6,500. I was a first generation student so studying abroad was really getting me out of my comfort zone since being a student at a university was already an experience. AIFS is very inclusive and amazing! They have so many opportunities for many diverse groups as well!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I wish I could change to not overpack before going abroad!
Default avatar
Anthony
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Though I'm from a small town.. I have always wanted to live in a bigger city. That's the number one reason why I decided to study abroad in London, UK. AIFS was the first pick in terms of providers because they did a great job of organizing everything. As someone who didn't have a lot of family support along the way, it was important that I had support from my provider. AIFS allowed me to feel comfortable, while still giving me freedom to explore the city. It was like my home institution almost.

During my time in London I made a special effort to branch out and experience the city on my own. I heavily used social media and hashtags to find different things to do around the city like new restaurants, fashion week, museums, concerts, etc. If you are social media savvy I highly recommend using it as a resource!

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing I would improve is the number of excursions. I missed a few and would have liked to go on more as a group with the other AIFS participants.

Programs

Displaying 109 - 117 of 129

Alumni Interviews

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

Tessa Kirk

I am a junior at California Lutheran University! I am studying both psychology and Spanish at my university and studied abroad the spring semester of my sophomore year!

Tessa Kirk

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program for the language acquisition aspect. I was advised that Granada would be one of the better locations to learn the Spanish language. I honestly didn’t know much about the location before I left and I wish I would have cause I would have wanted to go there even more so. I always knew i wanted to go to Spain, but didn’t know where, but I am completely happy with my decision to go to Granada because I have a piece of my heart forever over there!

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

My school and program were both extremely helpful! My school’s study abroad office helps you with all the steps along the way and handle your financial aid for you so you don’t have to be the middle man. My program was very available before I left and also on location. Our resident directors on site were super helpful and answered and questions we had! They even took us to the doctor if we got sick! All I did on my own was plan my trips when I was in Granada the rest was planned by AIFS!

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

I wish I would have known more about the culture and history in Granada and Spain in general. I knew nothing about Spain or the different places and I wish I would have done more research about the country before I left. I would recommend for people going overseas to be open minded about different cultures and try different foods!

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

An average week in this program is class Monday through Thursday and Friday classes once a month. Living in a homestay, you will enjoy every meal with your josh family, so you will go back for each meal!

Breakfast is usually before you head to school, then you’ll come home around 2:30-3:00pm for lunch, then dinner can be anywhere from 8-10pm! There is siesta from 3-5pm, so during that time stores are closed, so it is best to nap, go out for tapas, go for a hike or do homework during that time!

After dinner, is a good time or tapas as well and hangout with friends! You will have quite a bit of free time so make the best of it and see what the city has to offer!

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

A few of my fears were traveling outside of the country and being so far away from my family. I had never left the country before heading to Spain so that was something unknown and unfamiliar to me. As i traveled more and more, I became less and less nervous about traveling and I felt more comfortable traveling.

I am also extremely close with my family, so I was nervous about being away from them for so long. I realized as time went on that being away from my family was a good thing. I appreciated them a lot more when I got back and didn’t feel as dependent on them anymore.

What happens if i miss home?

Do not stay home and wallow! It will not make you miss home less; in fact, it’ll do the opposite. I recommend going out with your friends, talk out your homesickness with them and enjoy some time doing something you won’t be able to do when you go home, because you are going to miss this new place even more when you get home.

Is reverse culture shock really a thing? Yes, yes and yes! I suffered from reverse culture shock when I got back and it helped to have my friends from abroad to talk to and reminisce with them.

More Interviews

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.

More Interviews

Professional Associations

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