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Amizade, LTD.

About

Amizade is the product of hundreds of service-learning pioneers who have engaged in over two decades of programmatic and academic development; it is the result of never-ending efforts by communities around the world to welcome others; and it is an ongoing global movement by over 26,000 alums, and hundreds of thousands of others, to create a more joyful and just world.

Amizade is for passionate and adventurous students with an interest in real action. Amizade and BCA merged together in 2017.

Website
amizade.org
Founded
1962

Reviews

Default avatar
Jacob
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I chose to study abroad for two reasons. First, I'm a German major and was looking to improve my written and oral skills. This program allowed me to live in both Austria and Germany so I was exposed to different dialects of the language. This experience ultimately allowed me to achieve my goal of improve my German as a whole. The second reason, aside from experiencing the vast complexities of the German language, was this program allowed me to live in both a large city, Vienna, and a small town, Marburg. As someone who has grown up and lived in small towns, it was nice to experience the familiarity of Marburg. Vienna brought it's own challenges and lessons as it was my first time getting to experience big city life. Overall, this program not only helped me grow in my academics, but as well as an individual.

What would you improve about this program?
N/A Best experience of life! Wouldn't change a damn thing.
Samantha
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I honestly don't even know where to begin talking about my semester abroad in Dunedin, so I'll do my best to fit everything in here.

I'll start by saying my time abroad through BCA was the by far the most life-altering decision I have ever made. Prior to my time in New Zealand, I had never taken a plane by myself or navigated through airports alone, and I had never even left the country before! After my time abroad, I successfully flew 30+ hours alone and visited 2 different countries; and I CAN'T WAIT to visit more. I've caught the travel bug.

I can honestly say my program director, Ashley Mountfort, was my saving grace every single step of the way. Before I even arrived in New Zealand, Ashley made me feel at ease about the whole process of actually getting there. She answered my (many...many) emails within minutes and was extremely patient and informative. She sent out emails with step-by-step instructions on how the flights/ customs would work, where we should meet when we arrived at the airport, etc. And it only got better after I arrived safely.

Ashley met us at the airport with a bottle of water and chocolate bar for each of us; an absolute saving grace after traveling for nearly 24 hours. She arranged transportation for us to our flats and helped us carry our bags in. She even printed out maps for each of us and highlighted the route to our meeting spot. These were all things that Ashley did which were above & beyond what I expected, and I immediately felt safe and at home because of her actions.

Having a program director as awesome as Ashley made my abroad experience 10x what it would have been without her. Throughout the semester she opened her home and heart to me and the rest of the group. She sent us monthly emails with heaps of info on upcoming events, cheap tickets, volunteer opportunities and activities to do all around Dunedin/New Zealand. She even included secret messages within her emails, and the first few students to respond would win a mini excursion with Ashley to places around Dunedin like bakeries, cafes, and beaches, which she would take us to herself for no charge.

Ashley would plan movie nights and provide snacks for us. She invited us over to her home and cooked us meals, and let us play with her dog and baby (who I fell absolutely in love with!). If any of us needed absolutely anything at all from advice to a ride, Ashley was our go-to.

In New Zealand, I came comfortably out of my comfort zone. I made dozens of new friends and made hundreds of lifetime memories. I don't think I would change anything about BCA except to make sure each group has a program director as incredible as Ashley Mountfort! And possibly to provide a meal stipend to help students manage their money.

Overall, my life has changed for the better after my time in New Zealand through BCA, and I love the person I've become because of it.

Thanks for everything!

P.s. More scholarships to help with the cost of the plane tickets would be great. The flights were EXPENSIVE!! Also, STA was a bit tricky to deal with sometimes.

What would you improve about this program?
More scholarships to help with the cost of the plane tickets would be great. The flights were EXPENSIVE!! Also, STA was a bit tricky to deal with sometimes.

Make sure each group has a program director as incredible as Ashley Mountfort! And possibly to provide a meal stipend to help students manage their money.
Default avatar
Sydney
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

If you are thinking about this program, go for it. Best decision I ever made in my life. The resident director is so helpful and is really there for you. Also, Otago is an amazing university with amazing opportunities you don’t get in the states. Love the kiwi life! What I miss most about New Zealand are the amazing views, my 50 million friends (baaa), and the amazing people I met. If you like adventure, this is the place to be. I’m counting down the days until I get to go back, as probably any study abroad student says.

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

BCA was an amazing program. The trips, pre semester classes, and support were unparalleled. It was so easy to travel around the country and Daniel (the director of the program) helped me find an amazing internship and host family. I learned so much about the language, the culture and became way better at traveling on my own. I traveled to 12 different cities, bungee jumped, went canyoning and so much more.

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing.
Default avatar
Taylor
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Junior year of college I had the opportunity to study abroad in Quito Ecuador on the BCA program. This would be the first time that I ever left the United States on my own and I can honestly say this experience humbled me, shaped me and moved me on the path that I am now. As a part of this program students begin with a month long course in Ecuadorian language and culture, essentially a month before University classes begin the group meets to work on Spanish skills and learn about the History and Culture of Ecuador. I found this to be enlightening and helpful. I was able to brush up on my Spanish skills before starting school and I was able to learn about the social issues and the history of the country I would be living in for the next five months. We then began classes and I had the amazing opportunity to take classes with Ecuadorian students, take art classes and have an internship count as credit. This program integrated me with Ecuadorian students and as a part of my internship I was able to do an ethnography comparing public and private elementary schools in Ecuador. While I was living in Ecuador I lived with a host family which gave me the unique experience of really understanding what every day family life is like. This program provider took us on unique excursions that were not just focused on having fun but on learning about the issues that face the country, on being sustainable and justice. I truly felt like I learnt and grew immensely. As a result of studying on this program I became enamored with the idea of equal exchange tourism, or the idea of travel that is beneficial to all parties both guest and host which led me to teach abroad as I now have a passion for learning about and really exploring other cultures. I would absolutely recommend this program to anyone who wants to be challenged.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Why did you choose this program?

Growing up watching travel programs with my grandparents and hearing their travel stories had a lasting impact on me, so I always knew what kind of travel experience I truly wanted.

I chose the Dolomit program because I've always wanted to travel and learn about the world around me but in a more rural setting rather than a bustling urban center. I've met so many amazing international travelers and students at home, it was about time I did some of my own exploring!

The program walked me through all the necessary paperwork including flights and insurance. I was super close the deadline before I had even shown interest in the program but with how streamlined the website was, I filled out things fairly quick and was talking with someone the same day.

Considering I came from a non-affiliated community college on the west coast of the US, I was quite surprised at how willing BCA was to work with me and see things through. Really the only thing I needed to organize was what to pack and a little banking information.

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

I would say the most practical advice I could give is to learn about restaurant etiquette and how to pay for things. This program is mainly about food and culture after all!

Most often you pay at the register while larger denomination coins are a lot more commonly used than in the U.S. Thankfully I didn't come back home with too big of a coin collection, and the ones I did return with are pretty cool!

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

The average day started with waking up to wonderful weather and having a light breakfast at the agritur, going to class for a couple hours, and then exploring the local area until dinner around 9 pm.

Throughout the week, our group would travel to various museums, farms, and landmarks. Even with especially hot weather there was ample places to cool off with a popular lake nearby and tons of delicious gelato.

Towards the end of the program, the group stayed in a quiet mountain house in the mountains, allowing for some adventurous and supremely scenic hikes while working on a final research paper.

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 being able to communicate with people without knowing much Italian. I may seem fairly outgoing but I always worry about miscommunication. Turns out, Trentino and Munich are very multilingual areas (German, Italian and English were very common) and everyone was very patient when listening.

I think given the current state of things in the U.S., we far too often see traveling out of country as scary and dangerous, when really you are just meeting new people who have a surprising amount in common with you: fears, likes, dislikes and everything in between included.

Were you okay traveling internationally alone for the first time?

Absolutely! As long as you stay even the least bit aware, most people you run across will be very friendly! Of course, you should also travel with some good friends, it never hurts to have more perspective on figuring out things to do!

That being said, don't forget to stop and smell the flowers (and boy are there some pretty flowers in Trentino). You may want to pack a bunch of activities into your schedule because you are in a new and exciting place but remember to place quality above quantity, include some lounging time and take in life around you!

Staff Interviews

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

Kristopher Riggs

Job Title
Resident Director
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What has inspired you to pursue a career in study abroad?

When I first entered the field of international education, I was working as a foreign credentials evaluator in Miami. Though I learned a lot in that position, I knew that I ultimately wanted to work in an academic setting and play a significant role in programming and delivering study abroad experiences.

The role of a resident director is invigorating because the position requires an affinity for detailed planning, organizing well in advance, administering, overseeing, anticipating, troubleshooting, presenting, fear-soothing, and of course educating – all bundled under one sizeable hat.

Also, I was always strongly drawn to the idea of working in a bilingual setting, and study abroad – especially in the capacity of resident director - certainly requires full fluency in both German and English. And once you’ve done that, I imagine it would be difficult wanting to work again in a monolingual setting.

Why is cultural immersion important to you?

Because without true cultural immersion, you’re never leaving your original identity and comfort zone. And critical thinking – about yourself, how you see the world, how other parts of the world see your home country, how you judge situations and events – benefits tremendously when we have a set of comparative experiences.

Looking back on my time as a student in Austria, there were times when my beliefs were challenged and downright destroyed, but when you are open to immersion and change you become less concerned with “being right” than with doing good.

And working in international education is doing good because education is about selfless, honest giving and not taking – there is no negative byproduct of international education. You simply share knowledge and experience and enable growth through immersion. And for me personally, study abroad is not so much about a checklist of places to see – it’s more about empowerment of young people through their cross-cultural experiences.

What was your favorite travel experience?

Kristopher: People are usually surprised when I tell them that I am not a big fan of travel. I like to pick out a favorite spot (German-speaking Europe) and then develop a routine, get to know the terrain, the people, and then go from there.

Right now all three of my daughters are still very young, so I am going through school again, so to speak, now the German way. So I guess you could say my life here is extended travel. It's just not at all vacation mode. It's much, much deeper, and that is what interests me.

And to be honest, I enjoy traveling in the US. It's such a huge country with so much diversity on so many levels. You have mountains, desert, rolling hills, swamps, beaches, forests, fields, cities and suburbs.

And then you have so many different kinds of people, so many different foods. Many things are much different than here in Europe, though of course with lots of similarities as well.

What is the best story you’ve heard from a student of your program after they’ve returned to the USA?

One of my former students is currently working on her doctoral degree in German, and she wrote me recently to thank me and BCA for the amazing experience we provided her. She wrote me that of all the colleagues she knows, she is the only one who spent a significant amount of time completing academic work in two German-speaking countries (our two-month pre-semester prep takes place in Vienna, Austria). It’s great to know that our arrangements here give our students an advantage like that.

I’ve also had students return to Germany and Austria as, for example, Fulbright scholars, and they sometimes write me to thank me for all the work I did to make their stay so smooth. There is a lot of red tape to cut when moving into a foreign country, but I enjoy making that as invisible and painless as possible for our students.

What positive changes do you notice in your students during their time studying abroad?

Just a couple weeks ago we had our end-of-semester final academic advising sessions, and it was very motivating to hear them talk about their time here.

I don’t recall any of them going on about how easy things were, but they were really proud of their accomplishments, and that is the empowerment I always hope for with my students as resident director.

Once you have found yourself in situations where you need to make decisions on your own and you need to be able to function more or less independently of family and friends for a few months, growth is going to take place. And it’s this growth and empowerment that make my work here so exciting.

The German language is of course a component in all this, but only one component, and you can forget your German over time. But the rest of the lessons learned here are life-long and very powerful, very positive.