CIEE High School and Gap Year Study Abroad

CIEE Global Navigator


With CIEE Global Navigator High School programs, the possibilities are endless. As a U.S. high school student, you can study abroad from as little as three weeks in the summer to an entire semester or gap year. With more than 60 programs on five continents, you’re sure to find the perfect program to match your personal goals and interests.



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Yes, I recommend this program

You Don't Want To Miss This

The program I attended with CIEE was the French Language and Culture Program in Toulouse, France from July 11 to August 7, 2021. I did this the summer before my junior year. This was the first time I had ever studied abroad as well as been to France and the CIEE team organized the program flawlessly from my group flight from Atlanta to the time the program ended. My excitement overweighed my nervousness as I was eager to begin exploring France having studied for over 10 years. I would recommend this to anyone.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Staying with a host family was the most nerve-wracking thing. I had never done anything like it before talk less of the fact that I would be speaking to them in French. However, with time, I got so close to my host sisters and mom and enjoyed living with them in the 1 month of being Toulouse.
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Yes, I recommend this program

An unforgettable experience

If you find yourself wondering if traveling abroad with CIEE is for you, my advice is to go for it. It's difficult to describe just how incredible my experience has been studying abroad in Roma, Italy. The staff is so supportive and I've formed very close bonds with the other students. It has truly been an unforgettable experience that has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and grow so much as a person. I'm so grateful to have had this experience and to have met these wonderful people.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
As we walked into the Sistine Chapel, my eyes began to water and a few tears traced my cheeks. I was in complete awe of the beauty of the room and felt a moment of derealization. I could not believe that the art that I had wanted to see in person since I was little was just meters above my head. Immediately, my peers rushed over to ask if I was okay. The true answer was that I could not possibly be more happy.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Trip

I went on a CIEE High School Summer Abroad trip (HSSA) and it was amazing. Exploring Rome thru the Arts 2021. Writing as a upcoming Junior who has just completed her trip, I can say that this was truly the best experience of my life. Going into this trip, I had been looking forward to it for months and months. Just like that it rolled around and suddenly, I was with 20 kids I had never met before. At first I'm sure most of us were anxious to how we would be like. But within the first week we all clicked, all of us genuinely got together so well and began to embark on experiences we never would have had otherwise. The activities and little moments we had every single day made it feel unreal. Being able to witness the ceilings of the Vatican, roaming Tivoli's villa gardens... We laughed, even cried. I could not have asked for a better group to be with. The program itself was great, structured time for our course, and free time in the city. We explored new culture, people, food, language, in every sense. I was too busy and having too much fun to be homesick so that's a plus. By the time we were all content and starting to really take in everything, the program had ended. In the end, I was actually heartbroken and devastated to leave my new friends and the beautiful city of Rome. I know we will meet again someday and I will see Rome again, but CIEE made such a wonderful program there that has given me some of the most life changing experiences I will ever have. 100/100 recommend. Amazing staff on my program, I thank CIEE for giving me this opportunity. I would recommend students to apply for scholarships even if you don't think you will get one, it helped me a lot. Again, thank you to the outstanding support on CIEE's part but mostly thank you to all the students on this program with me! You've made it truly unforgettable. <3

Sincerely, Julia Sogol Alamdar

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Have fun. Be flexible, and remember you are only going to have this moment once. Once it passes, it's gone. Enjoy every single second of your trip and make memories you won't forget. I know I did.
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Yes, I recommend this program

My Experience In Ireland With CIEE

I studied in Waterford, Ireland my senior year of high school. It was a decent overall experience. I made some good friends and got to immerse in the culture through school. However, the first host family that I was assigned was very verbally abusive and when I went to the local coordinator, she was dismissive of the personality difference and said it was my fault and that I was in culture shock. For months this employee would continually pin the blame on me and make me feel even worse in an already horrible situation. Halloween night my host mother yelled at me to the point that I had a panic attack and was hyperventilating, for the first time in my life, rather than just leaving me crying as was the usual. My parents were able to force my movement from their end and I went to a family that was already hosting a student. After I left, she went through almost the same thing as she tried to leave that family. The company has a good base structure, but it is poorly implemented where it counts.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have a bigger focus on the student, it's their experience, they should be allowed to have a good one.
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Yes, I recommend this program

4 weeks in Alicante, Spain!

I had an incredible time in Alicante over the summer. I grew a lot in both personally, in my own independence, and in my Spanish-speaking skills. Alicante is incredible. The school where we attended classes was a 5-minute walk to the beach. Every afternoon there was some activity planned, like doing a city bike tour or beach volleyball, and every day it was different. On the weekends there would be bigger outings planned, such as spending a day visiting castles and waterfalls.
Alicante isn't a really well-known city, which was initially unappealing to me, but I think it was a better choice than a big city would've been. We had a weekend trip to Madrid, and I realized that being in a bigger city had a lot of potential for things to go wrong... a lot more theft and crime occurs in more prevalent cities.
The classes were intriguing and my professor was really fun and made class actually appealing. I liked that we not only learned about the language but also about the culture of the place we were staying in. Often, our afternoon activities would be catered to what we were learning about in class, which made my learning experience so fascinating. I'd taken 3 years of Spanish prior to the trip, (the requirement is at least 2) which I thought would suffice, but it really wasn't enough. A lot of the 40 kids on the program were nearly fluent, having spoken it from childhood. And instead of there being 4 different levels of class intensities as advertised, there were 3 classes: 2 for advanced kids and 1 for not-advanced, like me:). So for that reason I'd recommend 3+ years of Spanish unless you regularly speak it. Without a roommate with me in my host home, I would've had an extremely difficult time trying to communicate with my host mom. Having someone who also spoke English kept me sane when I didn't understand anything.
After class each day, you'd go home for lunch with your host family and take a siesta, which would be a couple hours of downtime, where you could really do whatever you wanted: do your homework, take a nap, watch Netflix, go to the beach, go shopping, etc. The siestas were some of my favorite times on the program because it gave me time to just chill out, especially when we had busy days, or do something with my friends. But I was really impressed with CIEE for the level of planning and preparedness they orchestrated for our afternoon activities and weekend outings. There would always be a perfect balance between downtime/free time and planned activities.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
1) Request a roommate. I'm a bit more introverted, and I didn't think I would want a roommate, but having one made the trip SO much better. I always had someone to walk back to the house with after classes, and it made communication with Spanish speakers a lot easier when we could tag-team something we didn't understand. If you're super confident in your language skills, then you can go solo.
2) ALSO, don't book flights with FlightFox. CIEE will recommend it if you choose a group flight, but it is NOT WORTH IT. I was on an individual flight to JFK and then on a group flight to Madrid and then Alicante, but because of weather issues we were rerouted to Atlanta halfway to JFK, and I missed both my connections. I had to rebook the flights for full price, and wait 24 hours in JFK. I had even used the insurance that CIEE recommended (iNext), which says it covers that, but now it's November and we're still disputing the claims. So, moral of the story, don't use FlightFox. Book on your own. Unless you're really on a budget, because FlightFox will literally get the worst airlines ever. AirEuropa, what they booked me on, landed me not being passed by customs coming back to the US because they had put my name in wrong and said I was 19, not 16. Just... so bad. Another airline we went on refused to let a girl on our program board because the flight was full, yet she had bought a ticket... so she had to wait 16 hours for the next flight. Don't use FlightFox!! Save yourself the pain.


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Alumni Interviews

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

Why did you choose this program?

I chose CIEE first and foremost because of their scholarship and financial aid help. As a low income Hispanic student traveling and studying abroad was a far fetched idea but CIEE’s tremendous generosity and help allowed me to experience Tokyo, Japan during my junior year of High School. Second after having read the program’s itinerary and comparing it with other programs I realized I felt that CIEE had exactly, if not more than what I was looking for and with CIEE I went to four different cities in Japan and learned a lot of the local culture, customs, food and language.

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

CIEE offered meet up points and airports, set us up with a language test before we left to check our level of understanding of the Japanese language and they had a lot of webinars and were on call the entire time. My mom was very paranoid about letting me go off with strangers to such a faraway country but CIEE was kind enough to keep her updated and called her frequently until they confirmed I was safely in their hands at the Narita airport. They provided us dorms, showers, buses, food, and great tour guides. As a full scholarship recipient there wasn’t much I had to organize on my own as everything was provided for.

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

Please study the language beforehand, it’s a courtesy to the native people of the country as well as a courtesy to yourself because if you find yourself not knowing how to speak or communicate at least at the basic level it’s going to be difficult to navigate yourself sometimes.

Also one month goes by very quickly savor it as best as you can, I came in the program very shy and came out very confident but I feel like my shyness prevented me from fully getting to know more people and more of the city, let yourself be free mentally and you will enjoy the experience much more. I always tell my friends to not be shy with your fellow peers as you will be each other’s family for the time you are there and to trust yourself and your instincts, it’s all strange and overwhelming at first but you will adapt.

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

Busy but fun! Depending on the day but usually we have classes in the morning Mondays to Fridays and then after class you could either have free time and explore the city on your own or you will be put in groups and do prescheduled activities such as calligraphy, meditation, exploring parts of the cities. We also took a week off of Tokyo to visit Kyoto and Hiroshima, we did not have classes that week but we did get to explore many parts of the two cities both with the entire group and on our own. We also had three days visiting our designated host families.

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

I was certainly nervous but my biggest fear would have to be if I was going to be well received by others in the program and if I was going to manage to get out of my shell. I realized I didn’t have anything to worry about because by the third day I was already having a blast with everyone. I realized people aren’t so difficult to get along with and that I should let go of the fear of being reserved and how others perceived me because when I did let go it became much easier to be myself and get along with others!

Staff Interviews

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

Michele Schreiner

Job Title
Program Observer
Michele Schreiner is a District World Languages Supervisor in a public school district in southern New Jersey.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Taking the group excursion to Greifswald, Germany as a wonderful opportunity for me. I was able to observe how the German Language program students and the Global Entrepreneurship students came together for one weekend.

We all traveled together by train to Greifswald, a quaint little picturesque town in the North on the Baltic Sea. We stayed at the Youth Hostel in town, which had a large open area for soccer and volleyball. It was great fun to watch the students get to know one another.

The architecture in Greifswald was beautiful and the students enjoyed the contrast between the big city life in Berlin and this adorable university town.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

As a language lover, I needed an opportunity to become a language learner again. Going to Berlin provided the perfect opportunity for me to focus my language learning skills on learning German. While in Berlin, I sought out as many opportunities as I could to utilize German with the local people. I am grateful for having had this opportunity.

Additionally, I personally needed a good refresher on my metro-taking skills. Being in Berlin was the perfect remedy for this, as the city is enormous and one often must change trains 2-3 times in order to get to a destination.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would love to go to see the program in Valparaiso. As diverse as my school district is, there is little opportunity to meet people from Chile. I would love to see how different the Spanish language is in Chile and to see how their culture is.

The security in Berlin at the study center was quite impressive. I appreciated how hard the Program Leaders were working to keep all of their students safe. I think this type of experience is unique to CIEE.

The company hires American high school teachers who are accustomed to working with American teenagers.

The 4 Program leaders I had an opportunity to get to know worked very hard at putting together meaningful "Into the Community" programs for their students. They also impressed me with how quickly and how well they had already gotten to know the students in their charge.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Personalization. I observed how well the Program Leaders worked with the German teachers in Berlin and how well they worked with the local CIEE employees in Berlin. All of these people working well together is what makes for a wonderful experience for the students, without their even realizing how many people are working behind the scenes to make it all happen.