Institute for Study Abroad

IFSA (Institute for Study Abroad)

About

Ready to leave the familiar behind? IFSA (Institute for Study Abroad) has been helping U.S. and Canadian college and university students expand their boundaries and challenge their perspectives with study abroad for more than 30 years. With 120+ programs in Australia, China, Europe, India, Latin America, New Zealand, and the UK, and a focus on individual advising that carefully considers your goals, we’re here to help you go places.  

The IFSA experience isn’t about simply seeing a new culture—it’s about living one. That means you might be surprised at how much education can feel like an adventure. Why settle for seeing new things when you can learn to see things in new ways—ways that add dimension to your story and pay rewards for years to come. Learn more today at IFSA-Butler.org.

Scholarships

IFSA Scholarships

IFSA Scholarships and Financial Aid

We believe that study abroad should be within reach of every student, so we offer a wide range of scholarships and funding opportunities for all our participants.

Value
$500 - $2,500

Reviews

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Vineeta
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Seeing India in a Fresh Light

Studying with IFSA in Pune, India, was an experience of a lifetime. I chose this program because my college mentor had recommended it to me when I struggling to find a program in India that fit my needs. Pune isn't always the first city people think of when they think of India, but it's definitely the best place to study abroad. The city itself is easy to travel around but is packed with enough places to visit that you'll never be out of things to do. There's a huge local student population so there's plenty of chances to make new friends.
The program staff in Pune were amazing, all of my program mates and I became very close to them especially our program director. Uttaraa was extremely attentive to our needs and if we had any questions about volunteering or tutoring she was always on top of it to find us the best options. Not to mention, the classes were steeped in a level of academic rigor that was similar to my home university, which I really appreciated. I genuinely felt like I was learning new and nuanced facts about India that really informed my view of the country as a whole as well as enhancing my view of the world overall.
My homestay experience was also amazing, I was housed with 2 other students in an easily accessible location and a more than welcoming host. Our host treated us like family and even bought 2 of us cakes on our birthdays and celebrated with us. She provided us tea before we would leave for school (IFSA program site provided breakfast, lunch was up to us) and amazing dinners in the evening. She would make something new everyday and it was yet another way for us to learn about Indian culture through our everyday interactions.
Continually, I grew really close to my friends in the program and since it was a small program, it made it easier for us to go out and experience this city together. We were all lucky to have gotten so close and we cherished our time together, but that would not have been possible without IFSA and the amazing resident staff.
I think IFSA really cares to make every part of your study abroad experience meaningful and tailored to your needs. There's not a detail that's overlooked and spending time in the vibrant cultural hub that is India is something I'll never forget! If you're looking for a program that is supportive and really challenges you to learn about the world around you, look no further. This is the program for you!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I would say that you should try a new thing every *other* day. I say this because it can be easy to become overwhelmed with activities, social events, and navigating a new city. While you should welcome new opportunities with open arms, it's important to take time for yourself and do things that are comforting for you or remind you of home so that you can feel refreshed and ready for the adventures waiting for you.
Read my full story
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Bridget
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Empowering and Supportive

I studied abroad at Trinity College Dublin with IFSA in the spring of 2015 and had an extremely transformative experience. From the beginning, IFSA provided outstanding support. I remember being so sick that I had lost my voice during our orientation-- yet the IFSA staff was sure I was cared for and included in those initial days when community building with my cohort was so important. 

Throughout the process, IFSA taught us the value of being independent in a foreign country while always ensuring that we had staff to rely upon. Notably, the IFSA Ireland Community and Culture Seminar provided me with the resources to understand culture shock, identify my own learning curve, and process the new cultural information I encountered on a daily basis. The experience enabled me to feel confident and empowered as I went about my daily life in Dublin.

Of course, IFSA-sponsored excursions were also a highlight. From our trip to Belfast to our outdoor adventures in Killary, we were able to experience different regions of Ireland and make lasting friendships in our cohort. I have many memories of exploring streets in Belfast, running obstacle courses in bogs, and frolicking in Ireland's renowned landscape. One tip for anyone considering this program: jump right into that bog and immerse yourself!

What would you improve about this program?
Living and studying in a cohort of other American students on the IFSA program had many benefits, such as being able to connect and support each other through our shared experiences. However, it was sometimes challenging to make similar connections with Irish students, who knew our time in Ireland was temporary. I found that joining clubs and societies at the university was crucial, and IFSA encouraged us to do so. I always wondered if additional opportunities like homestays would have rounded out the experience. 

In all, I would not trade my study abroad journey for the world!
Colin Murchison's headshot
Colin
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Study Abroad in New Zealand With IFSA - Everything I Needed for an Immersive Experience Overseas

As a young adult who had little experience with travel and zero experience with international solo travel, I sought out a program provider that offered on-the-ground support and guidance through all the logistics of living and studying abroad for a semester. IFSA was the perfect option for what I needed. From finding student accommodation to working through jetlag -- the staff was friendly, supportive, and clearly had our best interest at heart. I had the opportunity to witness how they helped friends through adversity, and we all knew that if we needed someone, they were just a phone call away. The program size was small enough to be intimate yet forced us to make connections outside our fellow program participants. While a seasoned solo traveler likely wouldn't need the level of support IFSA provided, I would highly recommend this program to nearly all prospective study abroad students. The knowledge and assistance they provided throughout the program allowed me to avoid many of the stresses of traveling and quickly adjust to being abroad, improving my immersion and helping to create a meaningful and impactful experience I will cherish forever.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
One of the excursions that IFSA provided through the program was spending a night on a boat. During this, we kayaked, fished, and went scuba diving. We caught urchins and were shown how to eat them raw.
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Emily
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Living only blocks from the Malecon!

The IFSA staff was amazing! No matter what, the resident director was always available to help; whether it was a restaurant recommendation for lunch to accompanying me to the clinic when I got sick to organizing excursions to the rest of the island, Rose Ana always knew what to do. It made me feel much more comfortable, especially at the beginning of the semester, knowing that someone was there for me. Also, I spent my birthday there, and the IFSA staff and my homestay family organized a birthday party for me with a cake, croquetas, and ensalada fria. My birthday fell on one of the first days we got there and I couldn’t believe how much they did for me even though I was a virtual stranger.
Something else I liked about the IFSA program was the academics. We were the only program in Cuba for US students that let us take only classes at the University of Havana with Cuban students. Other programs made their students take courses that were specifically for their group and thus didn’t get to meet and befriend Cuban students to the extent that we did. Speaking of which, make sure you go to the FEU parties that the student government runs! They are really fun and the entrance fee is only 10 pesos cubanos (which is like 40 cents).
I agree with one of the other reviews below saying that they wish they could do it all over again. I'm getting nostalgic just thinking about it! Also, random side tip: make sure to check out the cafeterias that line the University of Havana for a quick lunch. One of our personal favorites was La Colina.

What would you improve about this program?
I would add more excursions to the rest of the island! I understand that it can be difficult to travel to other provinces in Cuba because of US regulations, but I would have loved to see more of the island with the IFSA group. We went to Trinidad, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara, Las Terrazas, and a farm in Sancti Spitirus, but I would have loved to see the eastern part of Cuba (El Oriente) or Bay of Pigs (Playa Girón).
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Quinn
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

What Could've Been the Abroad Trip from Hell

In February 2020, I was packing my bags, excited to embark on my semester abroad in Shanghai. Days before my flight, it became clear that I would not be able to travel to China as planned due COVID-19. I was crushed and panicked, not knowing what to do. Luckily, IFSA staff reached out and allowed me to switch to another one of their amazing abroad programs. Within days, I was on a flight to Rome. I was amazed at how well IFSA organized an amazing experience in which I lived blocks away from the Vatican, took interesting classes with Italian professors, and even got to travel.

A highlight of my time abroad was IFSA's planned trip to a small Italian city called Orvieto and Florence. We had a guided tour of the caves in Orvieto and a personal cooking class in Florence (in which we made the most amazing homemade bruschetta, bucatini all'Amatriciana, and tiramisu). We stayed in an authentic, quaint hotel and had plenty of time to explore Florence on our own. I couldn't believe this was all organized and included by IFSA! Another weekend I had the chance to visit my cousin in Milan with a few friends from my program.

While my time in Rome did get cut short due to the pandemic, I have countless memories from my time there that I will cherish forever, like getting a private tour of the Colosseum or making new relationships with an Italian family that IFSA connected me with. While no one could've totally prepared for an unexpected global pandemic, IFSA did an amazing job rolling with the punches and providing me with an unforgettable time in Rome. I created what I believe will be lifelong friendships with other American students as well as Italian peers and professors.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't worry about where your friends and fellow peers are studying abroad. I was nervous going into a program in which I didn't know any other students, but it turned out to be an amazing opportunity to make friendships with people across the country and the world. I still keep in touch with my friends in Rome and American students (with many post-pandemic plans to visit each other). Getting out of my comfort zone facilitated a lot of personal growth in getting me out of my shell more and building confidence in my social as well as academic abilities.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Vineeta Chauhan

Vineeta is an alumna of Kenyon College and participated on IFSA's Contemporary India program in the Spring of 2020.
Vineeta Chauhan in India under trees on a road

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I had a deep desire to interact with India through a critical lens. Having Indian heritage, I've been to India a number of times to see family and tourist sites. However, I've always wanted to learn about India in a deeper way. When it came to selecting a study abroad program, I was struggling because none of the programs already pre-approved by my institution really met the level of academic rigor I was itching for. Like a knight in shining armor, my advisor came to me and informed me about IFSA's program in Pune. Although Pune wasn't a location I had ever thought of studying in before, after taking a look at the program details and classes that were offered, I felt as if no other program could fit me better.

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

Honestly, my university and IFSA really managed the whole process for me smoothly. I never at any point felt like I didn't know what was going on with the application process, the pre-arrival process, or what to expect once I'd landed. IFSA was always in touch with me through the admissions counselor, program advisor, and program staff about the status of my application and what documents and deadlines I had upcoming. If I had any questions about my documents or what I had to fill out, they always responded to me immediately and gave me advice on what to do next or guided me through it. If you're like me and have a million questions about any application process, you'll appreciate the support IFSA offers every step of the way.

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

One piece of advice I'd give to someone going on my program is to manage your time and expectations. Studying abroad is a very exciting experience and you're bound to learn a million new things about the world around you, but it's important to know what you're stepping into and give yourself time to adjust. Make sure to pack/bring things that help you with self care (like a notebook to keep as a journal) so you can process all the new experiences in a healthy way while not getting overwhelmed. I think IFSA does a great job in accommodating and supporting students' needs, so always make sure to talk to your program staff whenever you want support!

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

An average day starts out with your classic morning chai (black milk tea) with your host, and a short rickshaw ride to school. IFSA teaches all of their classes at the program site with local Indian professors, and they provide you with breakfast every morning. Then, you'll go through a day of classes with cultural performance art lessons weaved in-between (you get to choose between a few options) and lunch on your own. You can take the time to explore Pune after class or go home to talk to your host and have dinner together. On the weekends, IFSA would plan activities or you were free to explore the city with your program mates. A lot of the activities and interests were chosen with our specific cohort in mind, and if we had any interests specific to us that we wanted to explore, the program staff would always try to make it available.

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 probably leaving India not having learned anything new about where I was from. I really wanted my time abroad to be a nuanced experience of this incredibly diverse and vibrant place; I wanted to learn about more than just my own local culture, about the people I was around and Pune in general. I really think IFSA was able to give me that gift - through classes and immersion experiences like excursions and day activities, I learned more about India in my short time there than I probably had in my whole life and whole academic career. Not only that, I learned about how India is much more complex than I had ever even imagined from issues to public health to gender and media studies. I got to know India in a seriously meaningful way.

Staff Interviews

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

Sian Munro

Job Title
Resident Director, New Zealand Programmes
Sian began her international education career 17 years ago at the University of Otago, welcoming new students while undertaking Masters’ research into the impact of international students on domestic students. A move to the UK for 2.5 years working for AIFS in London on gap year programmes, travel in the UK, Europe and a summer camp in the US followed, Sian returned to Otago in International Student Support before joining IFSA 7 years ago.
Sian Munro

What is your favorite travel memory?

My time abroad was spent working and traveling with my closest friends. We learned so much about the world, ourselves and each other. I cherish the experiences we had even the not so great ones. Next year we are reuniting in Bali for another adventure!

One memorable trip was staying in Dubrovnik, renting a room in someone’s home. Our host recounted the siege of the centuries-old city from December 1991. Her family hid in a cupboard for days, which must have been terrifying. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, made all the more stunning because of the tenacity of the people to rebuild, attract visitors back and be warm and welcoming hosts.

When I returned to New Zealand after 2.5 years overseas, the Immigration Officer gave me back my passport and said, “welcome home”. It was lovely to be home with a newfound desire to explore my own backyard.

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

In my role, I have become more aware of the unique place Aotearoa New Zealand has in the world, particularly when compared to a country as globally influential as the USA. I get to see my country through the eyes of students who are brand new to it and eager to dive into our culture and explore as many opportunities as possible.

While our organization has a vast geographical footprint, IFSA is an extremely collaborative workplace. IFSA colleagues share their knowledge of our field relating to best practice, research, and media reports. More significantly, opportunities and challenges facing our students and how we can most effectively connect with and support our students. As a result, I am constantly learning and growing as an international education professional committed to enriching the lives of our students while they are onsite, knowing it will have an enduring impact on them.

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

We had a student who developed an interest in cycling after riding a few trails during their semester in New Zealand. When the student returned to the US, this interest became a passion and she joined a not-for-profit organization fundraising and cycling across the US to build homes for Habitat for Humanity. We were fortunate enough that she became an IFSA student ambassador once she returned to her home campus until she graduated.

A couple of years later, she returned to New Zealand and worked for us as a Student Services Coordinator for a year on a working holiday visa. We see and hear lots of great stories from alumni by being connected on social media, but this was a great example of a study abroad experience going full circle!

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

Having the privilege of knowing the amazing impact all our wonderful Resident Directors and onsite staff have on our students in Latin America, the UK, and Europe, Asia and Australasia, it’s a very difficult choice!

I would definitely select somewhere I have never been before and a location completely different from the small city of Dunedin I live in, where a quarter of the 130,000 population are students and the climate is temperate. This would mean going to a country like India or China with a large population and a completely different climate, language, culture and cuisine.

The IFSA programmes in Pune and Shanghai explore these locations in a contemporary context which would be of significant interest to me as a social anthropology graduate.

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

There is a beautiful Māori proverb which says,

"He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata."

What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people.

I have a fantastic team who enrich our programmes by fostering a strong sense of community and take an individual approach to our student’s learning abroad both inside and outside the classroom.

Our staff all have different topics we present on at orientation which we break up by enjoying outdoor activities in a beautiful open-air eco-sanctuary. I was at the hospital with a student and was not going to make it back in time for one of the briefings I am responsible for. Our team divvied up the briefing and familiarised themselves with their sections. I returned in time to see them do a fantastic job of presenting it!

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

From my perspective IFSA’s success comes from having a clear Mission, Vision and Commitments to underpin all the work staff worldwide undertake; from advising students about our programme offerings, working with our academic partners and operators in the US and our 19 programme countries, assisting students through the application and pre-arrival process, orientation, onsite support and programme delivery in both the academic setting as well as extra-curricular activities. While the Mission, Vision and Commitments might not be explicit to every student, as an organisation we have infused them into our programmes in a deliberate and meaningful way.

Professional Associations

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