IES Abroad

IES Abroad


IES Abroad offers 140 programs worldwide for college students. We are a highly charged force of study abroad enthusiasts. Every day we have the privilege of witnessing how study abroad changes our students’ lives. We also believe that every student should have the opportunity to go abroad—especially in a fun, safe, and superior academic and cultural environment.

From our headquarters in Chicago to our 35 locations and the staff on-site, we all work toward the common goal of providing mind-bending, life-changing, opinion-altering study abroad opportunities.

We’re not ashamed to admit we’re a little bit obsessed with study abroad.


33 W. Monroe St.
Suite 2300
Chicago, IL 60603-5405
United States


IES Abroad Scholarships
IES Abroad Scholarships and Financial Aid

As far as we're concerned, financial limitations shouldn't prevent you from studying abroad with us. That's why we offer more than $5 million in scholarships and aid.

$500 - $5,000


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Yes, I recommend this program

My summer interning abroad with IES was an essential growing period for me. As a Ghanaian-American in Cape Town, I learned so much about myself and my continent. I gained a better understanding of the legacies of colonialism, classification, and the inheritance of racism. Additionally, through my internship at the internationally renowned Groote Schuur Hospital, I was able to observe and expand my knowledge of South Africa’s healthcare system. My time in South Africa grew my level of independence and showed me that I could be whoever I wanted to be, whenever I wanted. Additionally, it has increased my curiosity regarding other African countries. Though in my case, Cape Town had a huge role in the culmination of my experience, traveling to any country that is not your own, is a breathtaking and necessary experience. Go!

What would you improve about this program?
I would improve the level of continued involvement of the program administration with the summer interning students.
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Yes, I recommend this program

As the clouds above soaked a dampened atmosphere, I hurried under an awning to take shelter from the first shower of the rainy season. As if being conducted by maestros along the tops of adjacent skyscrapers, flurries of hotfooted salarymen began to weave between their fellow commuters in a rush hour ballad, only to crescendo in the simultaneous opening of their clear plastic umbrellas as they left the stage of Shinjuku station. Once notorious for employing “pushers” to push commuters onto overloaded trains, Shinjuku station remains one of the busiest train stations in the world with over 3.5 million commuters passing through its gates every day. Although maybe not something that everyone would find amusing, it is a sight that made me truly appreciate the scope of the world.

I grew up surrounded by the sugar plantations sowed along the hills of Hanapepe, Hawaii. Though I would leave the island for university, I would again find myself in a bucolic bog in the wheatlands of Pullman, Washington at Washington State University. Studying computational neuroscience and Japanese, I decided that I should study abroad in Japan to gain an immersion into the language and culture to understand more of what Japan was about. That is when I discovered IES’s summer Tokyo program.

If chosen to participate in the program, you will meet up with your fellow students for a few days of orientation and placement examinations. At the time of my writing this review, there are six total classes spanning from the 1000 to 3000 level with two classes in each division. They are all held on the same campus that you will dorm at in the National Olympic Memorial Youth Centre in the outskirts of Shinjuku. You will dorm in an on campus dormitory, living in an approximate 15’X 5’single room with a desk, communal restrooms/wet rooms, and communal laundromat. I had tested into the higher division of the 3000 level classes. I believe the level of instruction in class is more than satisfactory. Classes are quite personal (~8-20 people). Each class does various extracurricular activities throughout the semester based on level. These range from cooking classes with native Japanese students to traveling to national museums to learn more about the country and culture of Japan. But I believe the true value of the program is found beyond the boundaries of the campus.

Shinjuku station lies a twenty-minute walk or five-minute train ride to the North of campus. From there, the entirety of Tokyo’s 23 wards, an area spanning 239 sq mi, is accessible via subways. metros, buses, and a multitude of other modes of transportation. A new perspective of Japanese culture to the commuters that get off at every station. From the hub of anime and everything Japanese pop related in Akihabara, to the 3-starred Michelin restaurants and ultra-luxury malls of Ginza, every destination that comes to mind when thinking of Japan is within a stone’s throw from the youth centre. You could even take a weekend trip to Kyoto or Sapporo if you wanted (something that I frequently did via the bullet train coming out of Tokyo station).

I have made many friends in the program, fellow exchange student and native Japanese alike. I will never forget the memories that we made in class, the nights in the karaoke booths in Shibuya, or the subsequent trips to the adjacent streets lined with “izakaya”s. You can only learn so much about Japan from inside of the classroom. But, if you are truly interested in learning more about the country, what its people and culture are really like, then why not take a summer to learn abroad in the most populous city in all of Japan?

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Yes, I recommend this program

I had an amazing time while studying abroad in Freiburg, Germany for IES European Union Summer Study Abroad Program! I had the opportunity to travel to so many countries that I wouldn't have ventured to otherwise like Russia, Bosnia, and Serbia. I had lifelong connections with the other students that traveled abroad with me and I absolutely love the faculty and staff at this location. They were very supportive and inclusive to students of color and the unique struggles that they may experience abroad. The courses were definitely immersive and eyeopening, to say the least. The coursework is manageable and still gives you time to explore and enjoy your time abroad! This program will help you get out of comfort zone as it did for and genuinely contribute to tour growth. If you're thinking of studying abroad, I strongly encourage choosing this program!

What would you improve about this program?
I wish this program was advertised at more HBCUs. I was the only black student on my program and clearly the only student from an HBCU (Spelman College). I think if this program were advertised to more HBCUs I wouldn't have been in that situation.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I have never traveled overseas alone before. As a graduate student, I had grown comfortable with the routine of things, from classes to rotations, and weekly exam reviews along with work obligations. But one day I woke up and realized that after I graduate, I wouldn’t have time to learn what life is like in another part of the world like I could as a student. As someone who has always been curious about other cultures and as a strong believer in bridging gaps in communication between different populations, I wanted to be able to really learn from life across the world and then use that knowledge to direct my own career in the future. While my university does offer a plethora of classes that can educate people about different cultures, I knew that there was a clear difference in learning about it and learning within it.

I spent weeks looking for internships that could apply to my interests while also providing the security that I wanted as someone studying abroad alone. When I discovered IES Abroad, my entire life changed. From the beginning of the application to when I arrived back in my home state after my 8 weeks living in Milan, Italy, the staff was there 100%. They helped me get my documents together for school and were very organized in helping all of the study abroad students get acquainted with the schedule and their expectations of us once we arrived. In addition to a class focused on cultural differences, society, and economics, they offered a free Italian language class, which was SO helpful when it came to my internship site and when I travelled to other places over the weekends (which they let us do!). I wanted to explore the Psychology field as it isn’t really discussed in my program, and they partnered me with a psychologist who had just created his own psychology company. It was so educational and enlightening, and my former boss and I still talk to this day! They have an incredibly vast array of programs and subjects that students can choose from, and they even give you the choice of interviewing with your potential boss while studying abroad before you even arrive in your study abroad country! I really liked that they were committed to helping me find a good fit from the very beginning.

In terms of location, I was in the HEART of Milan, in a gorgeous apartment, with three other American students and one community assistant (a native Italian college student). It was so safe and secure, which was something that made everyone so much more open to exploring their surroundings and really immersing themselves in the culture. They also provided everyone with a student health insurance plan that was included in our tuition fees. In terms of pricing, IES is one of the most affordable internships I have seen, and it definitely had the most coverage in terms of securing a placement geared to the student’s needs, safe and convenient housing, optional trips within the IES program (which were also SO much fun), health insurance, and weekend travel opportunities. I will forever be grateful for IES Abroad and the amazing staff that helped me learn so much about the world and so much about myself this past summer. A piece of my heart will always be in Italy.

If you're thinking about studying abroad but feel like there are so many reasons not to-- trust me, DO IT! Take a chance on yourself. I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I spoke with a lot of people who had studied abroad before, and they all told me to keep a journal. I thought that was kinda lame, so I didn't think to do it, but looking back, I definitely wish that I had. It goes by faster than you think, but it's the little things that you hold on to forever. Every once in a while I see or hear something that reminds me of something from Italy, and it makes me so happy. It would be nice to have a book full of those memories. Also, if I could do it again, I would travel alone an equal amount as when I traveled with other people within the program. It's super fun to travel with other people, but it's eye-opening to travel alone.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Throughout my whole two months interning abroad in Cape Town, South Africa my experience was an adventurous and challenging one. I was able to expand my cultural knowledge on and learn information about different types of townships and their history. In addition, I grew on a personal note by learning how to be more patient and adaptable to a more laid-back work environment where the main priority is based on sustaining and building relationships. On a professional level, I gained more practice with my communication skills, self-motivation, adaptability and computer skills. I definitely did experience a lot of moments when I would feel homesick, but to help overcome these moments I would just hang out with friends and call my family. And of course, when it was time to leave to go back to the States I was not ready. However, I do know that I will be visiting again!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The most unfamiliar thing I ate while in Cape Town, South Africa would have to be a sheep's head for me. I watched the sheep's head get chopped off and then fried on a wooden stick over a fire pit. It was a very interesting and memorable experience for me.


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Alumni Interviews

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

Emily Manasian

Emily is currently a Junior at Miami University of Ohio studying Psychology and Neuroscience. She studied abroad in Auckland, New Zealand and hopes to keep exploring by doing graduate school abroad!

Why did you choose this program?

I chose Auckland mainly because of the excitement of the unknown. Before this, I had never been so far away for such a long period of time. The farthest time zone I had been was three hours ahead, and so I decided to jump into an 18 hour change.

I have lived in a small town my entire life and New Zealand was the perfect way to open up and jump (quite possibly fall) out of my comfort zone. If beautiful nature isn't enough, I was lucky to find a program that fits my needs. The University of Auckland gave me so many course options that fit requirements for my home university. This was really important in deciding where to go and, fortunately, it worked out well.

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

Both my university and IES Abroad were very helpful throughout the application process. I had started looking for programs close to the deadlines, so my university was very useful in giving me the best options for the classes I needed, as well as programs that fit my skills and needs.

Once I was accepted to the program, I had many, many questions for my IES Abroad advisor. Mainly about the process. I wanted to make sure I was doing everything right to keep all of my forms and deadlines in check. The websites were very helpful in showing these deadlines as well. I did much of the application process myself because it was pretty step-by-step.

There was not much I had to do outside of filling out forms and sending in my deposit. Much of the trip was planned for me.

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

It is definitely a good idea to start early! I started very late, and there were times where the process felt very rushed. Don't be afraid to start searching way ahead of when you actually plan to go abroad. You'll feel a lot better knowing you have more time to sort things out.

I definitely do not regret my choice to go to Auckland. It was an amazing experience. But applying and paying for the deposit was more rushed than I would have liked it to be.

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

New Zealand universities are very similar to U.S. universities. I went to class during the week and did homework and studied as I would back home. After classes, I would often do things with my friends from the program as well as the friends I made while there. We would do simple things like go to the local grocery store and cook together, and we would study in the common area of the flat they lived in. But we would also spend a lot of time planning weekend trips.

I went on trips almost every weekend. We explored a lot of the country!

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 lot of the time, when I tell people I went abroad alone, the first thing they ask is, "Were you terrified?" The more I think about it, the more I realized that I really wasn't that scared. I was too excited about the idea of going somewhere brand new with brand new people; going to a school that wasn't surrounded by cornfields. I was a little worried about meeting everyone in my program because the first weekend we all go to an island and stay together. I've never been much of an outgoing person, but I was welcomed so quickly by everyone.

Before I got there, I told myself I just gotta go for it. Now or never. And I would say it worked out pretty well. I have a lovely group of friends with all different kinds of stories. I learnt there's so much out there if I just go for it.

Is there any other advice for prospective travelers?

At my home university, there is not much to do. It's much too small for a crazy amount of adventure. Because of that, I don't often get to try new things or go to new places. Going abroad was the first jump in the right direction. I did so much that I had never done before: backpacking, sand surfing, Kapa Haka (pretty cool, check it out if you can), husking a coconut, zorbing (also really cool, highly recommend), and so many more activities that I didn't even know existed.

It is very cheesy to say but try as much as you can. If you even consider it for even a second, do it. You'll find things you love and have some pretty great stories.

Staff Interviews

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

Andrea Buidin-Ferrer

Job Title
Internship & Customized Program Coordinator
With a deep passion for the French language and culture and a goal to live and work in France, Andrea completed a Bachelor's and Master's degree in French (interwoven with multiple sojourns in France) and now calls Paris home (3.5 years and counting!).

She currently works at IES Abroad's French Studies Center as the internship and customized program coordinator.

What is your favorite travel memory?

When I was working as an English teaching assistant (with the TAPIF program) in Valence, France, two fellow assistants and I went on an impromptu week-long trip to Switzerland.

One of the fellow assistants had a family friend living in Zurich, so we were able to stay with her and her family, all the while learning about Swiss culture. We spent time sight-seeing in Zurich, hiked to the summit of Mount Pilatus, biked through the Emmental region, and took a day-trip to Lake Como, Italy.

To this day, this trip remains one of my top travel memories. All three of us had a fabulous "go with the flow" attitude throughout the week as we said "yes" to many opportunities that simply popped up along the way.

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

When I first came to IES, I was an intern finishing up the final year of my Master's program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and everything was new to me. I arrived with the knowledge of study abroad that I had acquired during my own experiences in addition to what I had learned in the classroom and had gathered from talking with professionals in the field.

Now, after four years I have seen, first and foremost, how much study abroad has changed since I was in college--the exponential increase in the number of students going abroad, the diversification of those students abroad and the incredible strides made by companies like IES to provide the study abroad opportunity to as many students as possible.

Students today have grown up in a different world than I did--a world where social media and technology have greatly changed their experience abroad. I am constantly learning how to better understand students which, in turn, challenges how I think.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

I recently had an alumnus of our program contact me after having been back in the United States for a year. She was back in France participating in the TAPIF program and was spending a weekend in Paris. While chatting over some cappuccinos, it was inspiring seeing how this student had taken her study abroad experience and built upon it. She had matured enormously since her time in our program and it was fantastic to see her setting new goals and going for them.

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

I would have to say the IES Christchurch program in New Zealand is the most enticing to me. I have never been to the southern hemisphere and the natural beauty that I have seen in pictures and videos of New Zealand give me the travel bug. I would love being able to take courses at the university there and have that fully immersive experience while also having the opportunity to explore the outdoors.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

IES Abroad is unique in that it has been around since the dawn of study abroad...1950! They have the hindsight to understand where study abroad has been as well as drive to understand where it is going. Their initiatives in diversity and inclusion have made studying in a different country available and feasible for hundreds of students who would not have otherwise had the opportunity.

Our team in Paris is an awesome group of individuals who are truly passionate about intercultural learning and sharing that with our students.

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

For me, a successful company is one that places the satisfaction of their employees at the same level as the satisfaction of its customers. In a field like a study abroad where employees are in such direct, close contact with our university partners and students, it is crucial that we are being nurtured in an environment that places our professional and personal well-being as a priority. This then trickles down and through students who then receive the same care as we do.

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