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.

Teddy Van Winkle

Teddy is an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa, where he studies Music Performance and Arts Entrepreneurship. Over the summer of 2019, Teddy interned for the Orchester Wiener Akademie, an orchestra in Vienna, Austria, as part of IES's Vienna Summer Internship program.

Why did you choose this program?

Bottom line, I needed an internship to graduate.

I knew this before I even declared my Arts Entrepreneurship degree, but I'd been avoiding trying to find one until the beginning of the Fall 2018 semester. Just about every internship I could find then was not paid, not relevant, or not feasible. At about the same time, though, IES announced a new internship program in Vienna. Vienna is a fantastic city for music - so much of what we play today originates from composers and musicians in Vienna hundreds of years ago. So, interning in Vienna, fulfilling my Arts Entrepreneurship intern requirement, and experiencing an unrivaled music culture - it was an opportunity hard to turn down.

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

IES Vienna facilitated just about everything for us prior to the program start, from finding our employer, scheduling an interview, placing us in an apartment, and including rent costs in our tuition. We did, obviously, have to coordinate our own travel to Vienna. And once we started working, we were largely on our own. We found our way to work by ourselves and spent most of the day supervised just by our employers, not IES.

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

Vienna is a great place to travel from. I wish I took advantage of that more. You can get extremely cheap bus tickets to tons of great locations, and cheap plane tickets to just about anywhere in Europe. I would tell myself to not be afraid, and just dive headfirst into making memories and experiencing the widely varied cultures of Europe - it's an opportunity I likely won't have again.

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

It's really hard to tell - everyone's job is unique to their field of study, so everyone's time at work is a bit different too. The general idea of the program is that you should spend about 32 hours working a week. For some people, that means working Monday through Thursday, 8 hours a day. For me, that sometimes meant working 4 hours Monday, 4 hours Tuesday, then spending all day Saturday and Sunday traveling with my orchestra for a handful of performances.

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 stuck in a country without an effective way to communicate with the people around me. Now, a lot of people in Vienna speak English, but there's something extremely disassociative about not being able to speak the local language fluently when you are living there for months. You feel like an outsider like you don't belong. Honestly, I can't say I totally overcame it.

As time went on, I was more comfortable speaking German, and there were certainly situations that I felt confident speaking in the local language. However, I was far from fluent, and it was hard to shake that imposter syndrome.

If you were to study abroad again, where would you go?

I would love to go back to Vienna. There's still so much of that city that I haven't experienced, and there are so many opportunities I missed out on to travel and see the rest of Europe. I'd love to get hands-on with another company, music or not, and work with them to make them flourish. And I'd love to learn a bit more German and go back when I'm comfortable speaking the language more regularly.

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Staff Interviews

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

Anna McCloskey

Job Title
Digital Marketing Coordinator
Anna McCloskey is a graduate of Lake Forest College and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, as well as an IES Abroad alumna. From digital marketing to thrift shopping, Anna loves discovering new treasures and sharing the unexpected.

What is your favorite travel memory?

When I studied abroad in Spain, I intentionally limited my personal travel to stay in Granada and practice my Spanish as much as possible. I did, however, make two major week-long trips outside of Andalucía that semester: Morocco and Vienna—both of which include some of my favorite travel memories!

If I had to pick only one favorite travel memory, it would be a seemingly mundane day toward the end of my stay in Vienna. My then boyfriend and I had traveled to Vienna on a slim budget with minimal German and no plans. We spent an entire day just wandering the city making our way from one restaurant recommendation to the next. I remember that it was particularly cold, I didn’t have a warm enough coat, and both of us were under the weather—yet somehow it became one of my favorite days of my entire study abroad experience. We stumbled upon amazing architecture, found photo booths, stopped in chocolate shops, talked to strangers, and simply enjoyed getting lost with nowhere to be other than where we already were.

I think that opportunity to lose yourself in the moment is one of the best aspects of study abroad.

Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

As an IES Abroad alumna I’m biased, and will always recommend Granada for study abroad! That said, I work closely with our Italy programs, and have to admit that I’ve developed a major crush on Siena. As a smaller, less-known city in Tuscany, we affectionately refer to Siena as Italy’s best kept secret. I’m attracted to the charm and beauty of the region, the deep-rooted and ever-present history of Siena, as well as our programming—who wouldn’t want to study the Business & Economics of Italian Food & Wine!

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

With the marketing team at IES Abroad, I’ve developed a wide range of technical digital marketing skills—from e-mail marketing and search engine optimization to photo editing and social media—not to mention that I’ve also grown quite a bit personally and professionally.

Being a marketer requires an empathetic mindset, which is all the more relevant to those of us who have experienced an IES Abroad program first-hand. Since working at IES Abroad, I’ve developed a different understanding of and respect for my time in Granada, and how it continues to affect my life years after I’ve returned.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

I’m driven by IES Abroad’s dedication to our students. We work here because we believe in what we do, and we’re here with one goal: to ensure that each of our students has the highest quality study and intern abroad experience possible. That seemingly simple sentiment resonates through everything we do—marketing, advising, teaching, mentoring—and it’s both humbling and inspiring to work at a study abroad company that prioritizes the students over anything else.

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

In part of my role as the Digital Marketing Coordinator, I manage our student blogging program. Each day I get to read personal accounts of what our students are experiencing across the world right now. They’re insightful, they’re heartwarming, they remind me of what it is we are doing for these students, and they often they make me laugh! Our student bloggers are incredibly talented, and they’re having these life-changing experiences that I feel so lucky to be a part of.

One of my favorite posts from this semester was from a Dublin blogger, Kaylie (Knox College), titled On the Shoe. Kaylie has a way with words that makes her posts both deeply profound and easy to read. In this particular post, she talked about the level of self-awareness you develop when you’re in a new place and feeling as though you stand out. I remember her comparing it to the middle-school-desire-to-be-cool that never really goes away. It’s a must-read!

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Professional Associations

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