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

An Unforgettable Spanish Summer with CIEE

As my trip to Barcelona for the CIEE Spanish Language and Culture program approached, I was incredibly nervous. My only experience away from home had been at summer camps an hour away, and I had grown up seeing the same kids every summer. This trip would be totally out of my comfort zone – but I had no idea how much I needed to go.

The CIEE staff were super helpful and welcoming, and from Day 1 emphasized that we could contact them in the case of any emergency. I never needed to contact my Program Leader, but it was super reassuring to know that she was there for me 24/7. My host mom also made sure that I could reach her at all times – she was a single mom with a teenage daughter, and both of them went out of their way to ensure that my roommate and I had an incredible experience in Barcelona. Our family dinners every night were one of my favorite parts of the trip, where we would enjoy delicious food and strengthen our Spanish skills by talking about our day.

Although my roommate and I were placed in different Spanish classes (based on a test and an interview), we still spent tons of time together, and are best friends to this day. I really liked the other students in my class, and learned tons of Spanish daily, both from my Program Leader during our morning activity and from my teacher during afternoon classes. While my grammar and vocabulary improved during the afternoon, my appreciation for Spanish culture increased each morning. Whether we were taking a flamenco class, touring gorgeous Gaudi houses, or walking through historic neighborhoods, I always was able to try something new and have fun with my friends. Getting to meet new people was also a highlight of my trip. CIEE students came from across the country, but we all found shared interests to connect over, whether it was a love of thrifting or a desire to see as many museums as possible.

Now that I'm home, not only has my Spanish improved enough that I was moved from Level 3 to AP Spanish, but I also feel more confident and excited to try new activities and experiences. I'm still in touch with many of my friends from CIEE as well as my host family, and am planning on meeting up with my roommate during our Spring Break, and potentially seeing more friends when I travel during the summer as well.

  • The kindest, most fun people I have ever met
  • Program staff who were always there for me
  • Learning inside and outside the classroom
  • Tons of walking – and new sneakers are expensive!
  • Too sad to say goodbye to my friends at the end
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Yes, I recommend this program

Seoul K- Pop Immersion Program

Last Summer, I participated in the K-Pop Immersion Program through CIEE and I lived in South Korea. I would like to say that South Korea was the best moment in my life because I had lots of fun and I developed a sense of independence. The group and I visited Historical places, we went to a norabang which is also karaoke, met soulmates and we played Korean games. Initially, my mom was nervous about living alone without any family but eventually she was proud I went. Through this program, I got to know myself better and I realized that I would thrive in any pace and environment I found myself in. Additionally throughout the program I made new friends which led me to have different perspectives in life. I would like to inform everyone that we need to explore and not be reserved. With the CIEE program, it's an opportunity to learn diverse cultures in different countries to know the definition of who you are.

  • Great Roomate
  • Security
  • Friendships
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Yes, I recommend this program

One of a Kind

As a low-income student, I was fortunate enough to receive a generous scholarship to afford the trip. Initially, it was meant for the Japan Pop Culture program, but that was canceled due to the borders remaining unopened. I instead chose to participate in the Czech Republic program and it was still extremely fun and intriguing -- I learned a lot about Czech culture by just being in another country. Just being able to go to another continent cheaply with an organization figuring out the logistics for you is amazing, but we also had Czech and art classes. The teachers were very friendly and learning was fun, although I would've preferred to wander the streets as I grew tired of making art every day. I befriended Czech students there and still keep in touch with them today. I truly am lucky for the opportunity to study abroad as similar high school students of my background wouldn't be able to afford it.

I personally would've liked more free time, but that's because I'm not a very artsy person that just wanted to go to the Czech Republic to try kofola.

We stayed at an aparthotel that was pretty fancy and the jelly-filled doughnuts were amazing. Breakfast was usually very delicious.

  • Aparthotel
  • Safe
  • Fun
  • Too little free time
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Yes, I recommend this program

CIEE High School Abroad Sevilla Spain

I attended CIEE's High School Abroad program in Sevilla, Spain for the academic year of my junior in 2017-2018. I went with my brother Benjamin. We both stayed in different home stays and towns, but this experience together was so rewarding. I met some of my best friends at my Spanish high school, and still consider them best friends to this day. I was able to travel to 5 countries, and met so many new people along the way. I became very close with my host family, and they treated me like their own. I became very proficient in Spanish, and CIEE supported me along the way with any need I had. CIEE really pushed me to become immersed in the culture and my community, and always had resources for when I needed a little extra comfort.

  • Travel
  • Language Immerson
  • Growth
  • Some homesickness
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Yes, I recommend this program

My summer abroad in Costa Rica

This experience was very new for me, it was the first time I had been away from home for so long (3 weeks) and the first time I'd stayed in another country for that long. This experience was advertised as a study abroad program, but it felt nothing like school. It was full of learning through doing, and adventure. I gained new friends I kept in touch with months after and so many crazy memories, not only that, but I left with new knowledge about how to be more eco-friendly and encourage others to as well. Definitely all worth it.


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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.

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