InterExchange - Local Culture. Global Relationships.

InterExchange

About

We're here to connect you with meaningful travel experiences around the world, including Au Pair, Work & Travel, Educational Tours, Language Learning and more. InterExchange has been around for over 50 years. We've all lived and worked abroad so we know what it's like to prepare to take the big leap! Whether you plan to travel next month, next year, or beyond, we look forward in starting a conversation about your travel goals.

Reviews

Default avatar
Jada
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Sustainable Action Costa Rica

The trip to Costa Rica was full of vibrant, unique experiences. From learning about the culture of indigenous people to seeing the beautiful animals of the jungle, there was never a dull moment on this journey. Aside from the exciting excursions, the group members also made the trip super fun. It was refreshing to meet new people and to go on so many adventures. The program also creates awareness of environmental restoration efforts through engaging young adults with hands-on activities. This experience has given me great friends, wonderful memories, and a renewed interest in environmental conservation! I am very thankful to have been able to go on this trip.

Pros
  • Exploring new cultures (Bri Bri)
  • Meeting peers with similar interests (new friends!!)
  • Seeing and learning about wildlife that I have never seen before
Cons
  • Bug bites
  • Possible allergic reactions (to plants)
  • Sweaty after excursions
Default avatar
Sara
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica trip

It was really nice, especially seeing the tribes and seeing the way they live and getting off our phones to connect to the world. U learn a lot during this trip while having a lot of fun. The amount of wildlife you get to experience was also very nice. Not only did the tour guides help give more info on the animals, but then seeing them in the wild on ur own knowing certain facts about them was very fun. Also you can’t forget the beaches, the waters were so warm and the views were so pretty. Would definitely recommend this trip to others

Pros
  • Meet new people
  • Challenge you Spanish skills
  • Try new things
Cons
  • Clothes get very sticky in suitcase after a few nights
  • The money exchange can make things challenging
  • Talking to the locals got difficult sometimes without Colin
Default avatar
Kelsey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Sustainable Action Costa Rica

In the beginning I was very nervous about going on this trip because I have never been to Costa Rica. When I got here I was a little nervous when finding the group but Colin made it easy. I feel as if the way the program was structured that it gave plentiful down time to allow bonding with the participants while also enjoying the activities. The only things I would change is how long the trip is, I would make it longer, the pre-trip PowerPoint could use some more details, and finally the pre-trip call was a little awkward.

Pros
  • Macaw sanctuary
  • Organization
  • Safety
Cons
  • Rain
  • Food- rice and beans 24/7
Default avatar
Mary
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Sustainable Action Costa Rica

I really enjoyed the experience in Costa Rica and I am very grateful to all of the programs and communities that supported us and showed us what pura vida is all about. It was really interesting to contrast the animal sanctuaries in Costa Rica with the ones I have seen in the United States to better understand the conservation practices that are best for the animals. It was also really empowering to see how passionate and willing to talk about sustainability everyone was when we visited all of the programs. I hope to visit again soon and feel like I have made many life long friends.

Pros
  • New super fresh foods
  • Amazing communities
  • Different perspective
Cons
  • Limited housing arrangements
  • Lots of hilly walking
  • BUG BITES
Default avatar
Evyn
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

InterExchange Costa Rica

It was a great opportunity to travel in a way that fully explored the area and culture of Costa Rica. Our trip leader Colin was so knowledgeable and gave us such a full experience in a short amount of time. The housing was comfortable, safe and cute. The food was great! I got to go to multiple animal conservation sites and explore. The most unique part of the experience, however, was going to Bri Bri. Staying with the tribe was so wonderful and something I could not have done without the guidance of this organization. So grateful for this experience!

Jobs

Programs

Displaying 1 - 2 of 2

Alumni Interviews

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

Emily DeMaioNewton

Thumbnail

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I wanted to go abroad for a year, but found the vastness of that decision intimidating. I didn't study abroad in college, and the task of navigating abroad travel entirely on my own was daunting. InterExchange program provided structure and guidance to my trip. I likely wouldn't have gone abroad at all if I didn't find something like this.

InterExchange is perfect because they provide logistical help and structure without imposing any limits. I have tons of freedom but don't have to navigate logistical stressors on my own.

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

The program provider was there from the beginning to answer any questions I needed answered, and even to answer questions I didn't know I had!

Before I left, a representative was available via email and phone to answer my questions about cities in New Zealand, public transport, car costs and availability, food, packing tips--no question was too small. Most importantly, the representative called me before I left to let me know that I would need to get a year's supply of my prescription medication from my doctor before I went abroad. That was something I hadn't thought of, and something that would have been disastrous if I hadn't known to make those preparations in advance.

Ultimately I had to make all preparations myself, like booking flights and accommodation after the first week, but InterExchange prompted me along the way and gave helpful instructions for other things like how to set up a bank account.

Once I arrived in New Zealand, the InterExchange office became a great resource for recommending hostels, promoting all sorts of job opportunities, and giving travel recommendations. I also signed up for the welcome week, which was a great way to make friends and start out my year abroad on a confident note. During that week, we toured around the northern part of the North Island and saw the best sights to see. It was great not to have to navigate the beginning of my trip--being in a new country on the other side of the globe was overwhelming enough at first--and this week of travel ignited my passion to see the rest of the country.

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

My main piece of advice is to be gentle with yourself. Being in a new country is overwhelming, and it's okay if at times you're unhappy. It takes a while to settle in to a new place. Try not to feel like if you're not doing something exciting at all times - you're wasting your time abroad. Sometimes you need to take a minute, or a few days, to breathe and settle into a routine. Try to hold onto activities that make you feel like yourself--reading, writing, drawing, running, whatever it may be.

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

The best thing about this program is that an average day or week can look however you want it to look! I know people I met during the welcome week who have jobs giving kayak tours, working on farms, who bought bus tickets and are traveling the country still.

I'm currently living in a very tiny town on the South Island working at a bookshop and a café. Most days, I have quiet mornings during which I work on writing fiction and poetry, which is exactly what I wanted from this year. There are opportunities for hiking, making new friends, watching the sunrise from all sorts of locations.

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 began my experience abroad shortly after graduating from college, so it's the first time I'm completely in charge of my schedule and my responsibilities, like finances. I was afraid of becoming overwhelmed by all the new responsibilities of adulthood while also trying to navigate myself within a new country and culture.

InterExchange helped with a lot of this--helping me set up a bank account, answering questions about buying a car or what cities are most affordable. I took things slowly and continue to ease into it. I've started my travels by living for a few months in a small town where I'm less likely to get overwhelmed and where things will start to look familiar more quickly. After my time here, I plan to branch out, travel more and live in busier places. I'm trying to take the transition in sections, and it's working!

What did you like the most in the program?

New Zealand is more beautiful than I could have imagined. During the InterExchange welcome week, we kept visiting places and thinking we would never see a more beautiful sight, and then half an hour later we'd turn a corner and somehow see an even more beautiful view. One night, we went kayaking and saw bioluminescent algae that glows in the water like stars. Even during stressful times, the beauty of the place makes the visit worth it.

Staff Interviews

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

Melissa Horine

Job Title
Work Abroad Program Advisor
After traveling to Japan frequently as a child to visit relatives and receiving a BA in Anthropology, Melissa has been drawn to all corners of the world, from West Africa to Europe to South East Asia, and finally back to Japan, where she lived and worked in Tokyo for 3 years. Now back in New York City, she continues to live in an almost-foreign-culture in Brooklyn, while advising young Americans on how they can have their own work abroad experiences with InterExchange.
Thumbnail

What is your favorite travel memory?

During one vacation week in Japan, a friend and I took a bike tour of the bridges and tiny islands dotting the sea between two of the major southern islands of Japan. I was completely unprepared for this type of activity, having only ridden my bike a maximum of 45 minutes through city traffic at a time. There were injuries, moments of doubt, totally unexpected surprises, and encounters with some truly warm and beautiful people (as well as a couple of strange ones). We talked our way into sleeping on the dining room floor of one bed and breakfast and spent another night curled up in private booths in an internet café. We soaked our bodies in natural hot springs and took in some beautiful art on an entire-island-turned-art gallery called Naoshima. The sense of accomplishment and exhilaration I felt at the end of the trip was indescribable and I’ll never forget the views from the top of some of the most impressive man-made structures I’ve ever stepped on, nor the taste and smell of the hole-in-the-wall old school restaurants where we indulged in authentic Hiroshima okonomiyaki and Takamatsu curry udon.

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

I’ve learned to listen a lot more. Working with mostly young adults, I’ve noticed that not only does everyone have different motivations and goals for their cultural exchange, they’re all in different points of their life journeys. While many are looking to take a break from school or work for a bit, others are interested in gaining language skills, and some are looking to earn some cash and see the world. My reasons for working abroad were unique and specific to me, and I think it’s great that we can facilitate these types of opportunities for people with a wide range of interests and motivations.

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

I think the fact that we are a relatively small organization, and I work in one of the smallest departments within it, allows us to give real, quality and personalized service to each and every one of our applicants and participants. I’ve worked at large organizations that were very focused on numbers and quotas and were less than pleasant places to work at, let alone work with from the customers’ perspective. At InterExchange, we value the effect of the work we do, doing our best to live up to our organizational mission and each of us genuinely cares about how global understanding through intercultural exchange can influence our society in monumental ways.

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

Empathy. Keeping a finger on the pulse of our prospective participants helps us to determine in which direction to take our current and new initiatives. A lot of self-examination helps to clarify and expedite processes and practices. Being a 24/7 advocate for cultural exchange (study, work or travel abroad) helps to create more of a public dialogue about intercultural exchange programs and opportunities. Being aware of the level of knowledge our participants have about intercultural exchanges or gap years in theory, so that we can reflect and come up with ways to reach new audiences and/or create ambassadors who will promote these types of programs in the future.

Professional Associations

Gap Year Association Logo