CIEE: Council on International Educational Exchange


A nonprofit, non-governmental organization, CIEE is the world leader in international study and exchange programs. For 65 years, CIEE has helped thousands of students, professionals, and educators gain the knowledge and skills necessary to live and work in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world by offering the most comprehensive, relevant, and valuable exchange programs available.



I loved the CIEE program - everything was perfect for my expectations and needs. I highly recommend this program if you are considering studying abroad, especially in Barcelona. I felt supported throughout the semester and enjoyed every moment of my time in Spain.

One of my favorite memories at CIEE was the school trip to Valencia. It was well-organized and I got to meet a lot of new people. My favorite experience was cooking paella with a local chef.

Studying abroad has positively impacted my life in countless ways. I am more independent and confident. I learned so much about not only different Spanish cultures, but cultures all over Europe. It was truly eye-opening and life-changing.

Yes, I recommend
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My time here in the Dominican Republic with the Liberal Arts Program through CIEE has been nothing but a memorable experience I will take with me forever. Despite the hardships, like having trouble with my host moms, traveling on my own at 5 am to get to Santiago from the Santo Domingo, and learning the concept of DR time, I have only grown. This program was great since it provided many weekend excursions like a fun trip to Samana, a place with beautiful beaches, but also a work retreat in a rural area where we learned about a coffee plantation with great people. It was a great way to experience the language and to gain more confidence since it is an interactive and experiential learning program. I never would have thought that I would be this happy and so sad to leave, when I was counting down the days until I got to go home two months ago. Who knew I could cliff jump off a waterfall.

How can this program be improved?
I think that this program can be improved by just making us more aware of certain things, but then again we are in the Dominican Republic so flexibility and learning their concept of time is always a must.
Yes, I recommend
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I had such an amazing experience during my semester abroad in Alicante. It truly is an amazing opportunity that I am grateful to have been afforded. Obviously, studying abroad anywhere is bound to be great, but Alicante was the perfect place for me. Being a coastal city, it has beautiful views and a fun night life, while not being too overwhelming or dangerous. I felt I was really able to immerse myself into Spanish culture in this smaller city. Of course, the host family that CIEE set me up with played a huge part in that. I was able to create a life-long bond with such a welcoming Spanish family. I couldn't imagine my semester without them. The big family parties I went Other than my host-family, CIEE had multiple events every week to go into the city of Alicante and experience the culture. These events were free of charge and usually were held with Spanish students, as part of the Intercambio program. I made new friends, learned more Spanish, and learned more about Spanish culture through these events. My time in Alicante wouldn't have been nearly as amazing if it weren't for CIEE. The staff was there to help with any and all issues. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat if I could only be so lucky!

How can this program be improved?
I think this program could be improved if the 3 programs within CIEE were less separated to create more social opportunities for students.
Yes, I recommend
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My primary reason to study abroad was to push my creativity beyond the traditional scope of academia. Research papers, essays, and ‘ivory tower’ discussions had started to jade me. I strongly believe my experience with CIEE satisfied a longing to apply my creativity in the real world.

In October of the program I bought an old DSLR at a used camera store in Khon Kaen. With it I discovered the creative process within photography of translating emotion to picture and video. On our final community visit, I woke up at 3:00am to video a powerful 200+ person protest march led by NGO and community leaders. This video was eventually published in a regional newspaper as part of an article on the march, which our program collectively wrote. There is much opportunity through this program to not only explore your creativity, but to also passionately apply it. Community visits are a five-day investigation of our unit’s theme, in which you will interview NGO leaders, community members, local administrative bodies, human rights lawyers, academics etc. The interviews allowed my group and I to dissect challenges of development in Isaan from a broad and multifaceted narrative. At the end of each unit, the group would create a unit project, and individuals could take on journalism pieces, in attempt to cover an individual’s story or the broader issue. Each asset of the community visit, the interviews, unit projects and journalism projects, allowed me to push my academic and social creativity.

This program is also set up to be entirely immersive. You will be privileged with a, perhaps, once in a lifetime opportunity to build relations with people in rural Thailand. ‘Immersion’ is your choice, however. I encourage those who do this program, or honestly any study abroad program, to make strong effort to learn the host country’s language. Granted, Thai, and especially slang Isaan, is not an easy language to swallow. However, any effort to grapple Thai’s esoteric sounds and tones will highly reward you during community visits; I believe it will define the level to which the program is immersive for you, as connection begins with communication. I studied Thai at my home university the year prior to this program. I also spent the summer teaching English in rural southern Thailand. So, my Thai was at a basic conversational level when the program began. Thai is only offered at 8 Universities in the US, so you will likely not have the opportunity to study it academically beforehand. I highly encourage anyone considering this program to take on an individual effort to study Thai before arrival, and to continuously develop your Thai while there. When it comes down to it, you won’t want to miss the conversation and laughs that bounce around while sharing kao neow (sticky rice) with your host families.

The program will affect participants in many ways upon returning. For me, I added an Asian Studies major to my degree, and have since worked to become fluent in Thai. I graduated a month ago and now plan to return to Thailand, to begin work in the NGO field. Not everyone will add a new major and desire to work in Thailand after graduating. There were however a number of participants in my group who came into the program with interest in pursuing a career in international development. For all of us with prior interest in the field, this program helped answer many of our curiosities. I believe we all left with a very good sense of how community development work functions at a grassroots level. Overall, the DG program will introduce you to what I believe are the most important aspects of development work— 1) seeking creative, new and balanced solutions, 2) dialogue, and 3) listening.

Yes, I recommend
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The academic template of CIEE’s courses built valuable skills for a professional resume, which set CIEE apart from other study abroad programs. The main development course was organized by five units where students were free to create and manage project ideas based on concerning issues.

CIEE organized exchanges with Government Officials, NGO’s, and villagers which was the best way for an International Development student to take any academic interests out of the classroom. The development units were greater than ourselves, we witnessed the resilience of local villagers by staying with families for a week and understanding the history behind their struggles. Host families treated us like their own and provided us with a plethora of traditional Isaan dishes.

When we were not on our unit visits, CIEE secured the group comfortably in dorm-style living that was air conditioned and a minute away from CIEE’s main facility. Khon Kaen University and its students were the surrounding environment. There were plenty of night markets and affordable eats (the meals being $1-$3). Our roommates were KKU students who were enrolled in English courses while we were enrolled in Thai language and culture classes to debrief on intercultural development.

Aside from living in Northeast Thailand, it was easy and cheap to visit the rest of the beautiful country. Chiang Mai, Pai, Krabi, and Koh Tao were my personal favorites. We got to experience all this amazing country had to offer (some moments felt like we were on vacation) while also working on development projects that we witnessed made a direct impact.

CIEE did a fine job of creating a flexible environment for students to discuss improvements, whether it was for academic purposes or even something as simple as making the student lounge more comfortable, our teachers always wanted us to be happy. My time in Thailand helped shape my career path based off the work I did with an amazing student group and teachers. I will be back!

Yes, I recommend

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