Institute for Study Abroad

Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA)

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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Bridget
10/10
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 Bio Picture
Colin
10/10
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
10/10
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
10/10
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.
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Megan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Mile from the Royal Mile

In the Fall of 2019, I spent a magical 4 months just a mile from Edinburgh's famous royal mile. Before stepping on the plane from JFK to Edinburgh airport, I had no idea that this study abroad experience would completely change my life. The whole entire way I was supported by IFSA's incredible staff in both the states and while in Scotland. IFSA helped me find the perfect housing just minutes from the University of Edinburgh, as well as to the heart of Edinburgh. The staff of IFSA in Scotland scheduled several meetings throughout my time to make sure that I was keeping up with my studies and enjoying my time abroad. I would absolutely recommend this program to ANY student. The academics at the UoE are rigorous and one can find almost any course to fit within their home school course requirements. OR if you have the time you can always take a course in the bagpipes!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Of course I HAD to try the haggis! To my surprise this was actually quite a delicious sausage like food! Maybe just don't ask for the ingredients list before you try it...

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Eryn Lin

Eryn is prospective law student currently studying economics at Vanderbilt University. Her dream is to learn about the diverse stories and experiences of people around the world.
Eryn L. with friends

Why did you choose this program?

My number one criterion was to study in a country with a different education system than that of the U.S. but didn’t require me to learn a new language. The United Kingdom fits these criteria perfectly. I decided on Glasgow because I wanted to experience Scottish culture and the University of Glasgow provided a good variety of economics courses.

I chose to study abroad with IFSA because they were the perfect program for someone who hasn’t done a lot of traveling and maybe is nervous about studying in a foreign country for an extended period of time. They gave us the perfect amount of hand-holding: enough so that I felt comfortable being abroad and knew that I had a team to rely on.

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

IFSA probably did as much as they could as a program provider to make sure our experience was as seamless as possible. I had a knee injury before my semester abroad and IFSA helped me get in touch with my University’s disability services. IFSA provided pre-departure information and arrival pickups. Further, we had an orientation at Edinburgh. Throughout the semester, IFSA provided periodic check-ins with activities such as excursions, a homestay, and afternoon tea times. Overall, I’m really happy with IFSA’s service.

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

Take advantage of all the opportunities given to you, whether that is an excursion provided by your study abroad program, a cultural class or a fun club at your University. Abroad is not the time to be afraid of novelty! In fact, I encourage you to try things you think you may not like because you never know beforehand. Once you return home, you won’t have these opportunities handed to you anymore.

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

Depending on your home university requirements, most students in the IFSA Glasgow program take 15 credit hours. That leaves plenty of time for exploring the city, traveling, and doing chores such as cooking and cleaning. Because the University of Glasgow does not provide meal plans or cleaning services, I usually spend 6 out of 7 days cooking, once a week cleaning, and twice a week grocery shopping. I spend my weekends exploring the city, going out with friends, or traveling to other cities. I like to study and do homework right after my classes at the library to make sure my weekend is free.

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 most worried about being lonely while abroad. I had close friends I had to leave behind and the time difference made it difficult to connect with them. I thought it would be difficult to make friends in a foreign country, but I was very wrong. There were many students studying abroad that were in the same boat as me. IFSA also made sure that I had my IFSA cohort to rely on for support by holding meet-up events. I bonded with my roommates more than I thought I would. The students at UofG were incredibly welcoming to abroad students, and the University’s events and clubs helped us grow close. I keep in touch with them to this day.

What was one thing you learned from this experience?

It’s all about scheduling, planning, and prioritizing. I recommend you make a list of everything you want to accomplish while abroad – traveling to other parts of your country, trying cultural dishes, hanging out with friends – whatever that may be. Once you have your goals, think about how much time you need to achieve them and plan accordingly. For me, my schedule for the weekdays was mainly classes, homework, and some household chores. During the weekends I would explore the city, travel, and spend time with friends. You might have to compromise if you find that you don’t have enough time to accomplish everything. With planning and good time management, I was able to receive incredible grades and achieve the majority of my goals.

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.

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