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ISA (International Studies Abroad)

About

As a leader in international education for over thirty years, ISA is dedicated to providing university and college level students the opportunity to discover, learn, and enjoy a way of life other than their own. ISA offers a diverse portfolio of education abroad programs across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Pacific. Our worldwide team provides high-quality experiences for university students at an affordable price. Each year thousands of students participate in ISA programs, including; Internships & Service-Learning, Veritas Christian Study Abroad, and EuroScholars undergraduate research.

Scholarships

ISA Scholarships

ISA Scholarships and Financial Aid

ISA is committed to increasing all students’ access to study abroad’s many benefits. We don't let financial hardships to get in the way of a life changing educational experience.

Value
$350 - $2,000

Reviews

Photo of Caitlin Boylan
Caitlin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I absolutely adored my time in Limerick. The university is a wonderful, fun, gorgeous place. The accommodation is clean and very comfortable and integrates you with Irish students - which is such a huge positive! IFSA-Butler provides great support before, during, and even after the program. I actually went back to Ireland a few years later and needed to leave my luggage in Dublin for a day and they let me use their office! The trips they took us on were fun and educational and a great opportunity to meet others.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would figure out how to transfer to UL and finish my college degree there!
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Kaitlin
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Studying abroad with a provider like ISA is great for students who need that little extra boost of support to get abroad. Their staff is lovely and kind and want to make you feel like you're at home and comfortable.

COURSES: Take classes that are fun and exciting that you wouldn't be able to get at your home campus. I studied Cultural Psychology, Gardens of Love, Italian Language, and Wine Appreciation. Yes, all of them transferred back to my home campus at BHSU with a little creativity!

EXPLORE: Purchasing a bicycle was the best way for me to experience as much of Florence as I could. I was able to seek out the roads less traveled on the outskirts of the city center. This is also an important hobby to me back home, so it was an important way for me to feel like I could enjoy my hobbies, get outside of the city center, and work off all that food I was eating.

HOMESTAYS: Although you will make life-long friends with the other American students, try to avoid spending all your time with other study abroad students in your program. It is important to step outside your comfort zone and meet local friends. They will be the ones to help you grow in your language abilities, experience true cultural activities, and enjoy some of the best local eats. Homestays are the perfect way to set yourself up for success. Some of my best memories were at my home with my Italian family.

SAFETY: Florence is a superb city for safety and wellness as a first-time independent traveler. Just be sure to watch your alcohol intake and be responsible. Many of the new students want to enjoy drinking legally for the first time, and it was a little scary to see some of the situations intoxicated students put themselves in. It's always important to be alert and cognizant. Also, remember that as visitors, we are ambassadors of our home countries. Represent yourself and your country well.

FOOD: The food scene is absolutely incredible. I ate and learned to cook some of the best food of my life in Florence. Regional ingredients based on history and geography of the people is such an important aspect to understanding culture. Parmesan, pesto, chianti, fresh olive oil, prosciutto, truffles, balsamic... are you kidding me?!?!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
This was my first chance to eat organ meats like tongue, livers, hearts, etc.. Although I was eager to try it, at first it made my stomach a little queasy, but I kept trying it again and again until I developed a comfort to it. Now, I find that organ meat can be some of the most flavorful and delicious parts of an animal. Don't be afraid to dive in headfirst to something that might make you feel a little squeamish, and then don't be afraid to try and try again if at first you don't think you like it. Food is such an important way of connecting with people and willingness to try cultural dishes is an important gesture to your hosts.
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Erica
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My semester in Athens, Greece was the best time of my life. It is a beautiful country that has everything you could imagine, from the snow covered mountains, to the sandy beaches, to the bustling city, and ancient ruins around every corner. My favorite thing to learn about in history class was always the Greek gods and goddesses, so visiting their ancient temples was like an out of world experience for me. My ISA advisors were some of the kindest people I know and made a real effort to expose the students to their culture. The food was incredible and I could probably eat gyros for the rest of my life. My classes was a great mix of American and Greek students, where we could often debate about our ways of life. The thing I will value the most is the lifelong friendships that I have made. I still talk to my friends often and meeting them gives me a new excuse to travel more often to see them.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
A huge part of Athens is its ancient history and a large part of the ISA/ACG cultural activities is visiting the ancient ruins of the gods and goddesses. Therefore, I would recommend reading up on some of the gods and goddesses as well as some ancient mythology before leaving. Although I remembered some of the stories growing up, I think it would have been even more meaningful to visit these beautiful sites if I had reviewed their stories ahead of the semester.
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Madison
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Studying abroad ignited my hunger and passion for traveling, and it is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life! While studying in Seville, Spain for a semester with ISA I made new friends that I connected with, traveled with, and am still in contact with. Studying abroad for a semester allowed me to travel around Europe and to Africa for a total of 9 countries! The classes that I took at the University of Seville, a historic and enchanting building, were fun and challenging. I had the opportunity to practice my Spanish in my classes, with my host mom, with ISA staff, at the store, at restaurants, and with local friends I made. My host mom was amazing and a fantastic cook! My roommate was very friendly, and we each had our own room. I always felt safe, comfortable, and welcome in my house though at times the temperature was a bit different than I would have preferred (air/heating is not used as frequently to save energy). I was very happy with my choice to study in Seville because it was big enough to have lots of options for restaurants, activities, and modes of transportation, but I did not feel that it was unsafe or I was overwhelmed by the size at all. It was also very sunny in Seville, something I couldn't get enough of! I was also very satisfied with my choice to study abroad with ISA! They were very helpful and offered insightful information throughout all stages of the program. The staff on site were incredibly personable and made the excursions a lot of fun! I would definitely consider traveling with them again!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If I did studied abroad again, I would choose another program that was 90 days so that I could obtain a VISA and have more travel flexibility. I think it would be beneficial to have a VISA so that friends and family can visit before or after the program so that it is less stressful to coordinate and you don't have to miss out on opportunities within the program. Also, I wish that I would have saved more money before I went.
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Elisabeth
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I would not change anything about my abroad experience. ISA was such an all inclusive program in which I felt fully immersed and had plenty of freedom while also having continuous support and guidance. I learned so much through the included excursions and cultural experiences offered frequently and when deciding to travel and explore on my own, was given plenty of recommendations and advice upon asking. Not to mention, Madrid is the most beautiful, incredible city ever full of so much diversity.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't waste time doing things you could do at home ie. napping or eating fast food. Explore everywhere possible, try new food, talk to strangers etc!

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Why did you choose this program?

Would you believe me if I said finding this program started with a deck of tarot cards, a scrying crystal, and a world map? Well, it did. That and a random desire to go to the closest place to middle earth that I could find. It just so happened, once I took the initial steps of interacting with my university's education abroad office, that ISA was the first third-party program that could make such an abroad experience a reality. With a desperate desire for a change, I jumped towards ISA.

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

My home university helped point me towards ISA. All I knew at the time was that I wanted to go to New Zealand, so getting introduced to a third-party who could make it happen was quite a leg up. They also processed my requests for getting course credit. That way I wouldn't have to worry about my classes not being transferable to my home university.

The ISA program did a lot in answering my numerous questions and in settling any fears I had about whether or not I'd make the right deadlines, if the forms I filled out were correct, and whether or not I was a valid applicant for financial scholarships.

Don't get me wrong, I did plenty of paperwork and planning on my end. Especially in getting my VISA and plane tickets, selecting classes that would work well with my degree, and ensuring all forms were submitted on time (as well as payments). But ISA was an added comfort since they put up with my slew of pestering nervous questions.

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

Abroad, the classes will be graded differently or perhaps even more thoroughly than you're used to. The important part is for you to strike a balance. Do your best but don't get so wrapped up and nervous about doing things wrong that you don't explore. Messing up is 100% okay. Necessary, even. The point is to learn, enjoy, and grow as a person.

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

You're talking to the queen of college hermits. My average day (in-between the epic things like horseback riding up Battle Hill or taste-testing at the Wellington Chocolate Factory) may seem mundane to many. But there are wonders in the small day-to-day things, too.

During a uni day I'd wake up early, usually before my roommates, and mix up a cup of instant coffee with breakfast. Then I'd walk from 'The Cube' (the+ housing complex where the international students are housed with the new uni students. I lived on the top floor, and you'd bet I could feel the wind sway the building) to Massey University. I'd complete my day's classes, with a good coffee break just before lunch, and once done I'd head back to the Cube to put away my stuff. From then on, it depended on how much homework I had to get done. I'd work a bit longer, cook, talk to my roommates, etc.

No matter what was going on, I would conclude my day with a walk down to the water. Sometimes, I'd take Cuba Street where I'd meet all sorts of characters and see people walking about. Other times I meandered. One way or another I'd make it to the ocean and get to look out at the white sailboats and the water that had so many emotions of color depending on the weather. For a girl who had spent most of her life in swampy, mosquito filled woods, it's certainly a sight to behold!

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 that my experience wouldn't bring change. That it wouldn't be all transforming and adventurous. I am pretty much the human manifestation of a tortoise. I can get shelled up and quiet. All at once, I wanted to be different.

I'm still the girl who loves sticking her nose in a book and taking long walks with no destination in sight. I'm still quiet and strange and often in my head. But I'm not JUST those things. By going abroad, I learned that it is important to love not just the environment. It is also important that you love you as a person in that environment. I'm still the tortoise. Going abroad just helped me appreciate my shell.

The thing about going abroad is that you may change locations, but you don't change who you are. By going to New Zealand, I got to see movie-worthy scenery, met people from all over the place, and experienced how capable I was in caring for myself. Most importantly, I learned to better love me.

What are some things that you regret while abroad?

  • I never tried whitebait or the NZ green lipped mussels.
  • I didn't go to the bottom of the South Island nor see glow worms.
  • Having to lug a power strip ~18,000 miles in total because the voltage is different in NZ, and trying to use a US power strip blew out the apartment's electricity twice before I realized what was going on.

Staff Interviews

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

Allison Ferris

Job Title
Resident Director
Allison has lived in New Zealand for five years and has worked for ISA for over two years. She has lived in three of seven continents and dreams of visiting Antarctica in her lifetime.
Allison Ferris

What is your favorite travel memory?

If I had to choose from volumes of memories, I would say that my favourite (so far) would be the cherry blossom season in Korea. Coming from East Coast Canada, our summers are relatively short and we are known for excessive amounts of snow. So in Korea, when I saw all these cherry blossom trees that were chock full of blooms and drifted down with the wind like snow falling softly to the ground, I felt at peace with the choices I'd made, nostalgic for home and mesmerized by a beauty I'd never seen before.

I remember roaming the streets or the park near my apartment just absorbing the fragrance from the blooms or taking photos.

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

Running ISA's Bridging Cultures Programme opened my eyes to the rich heritage of Māori, the first people in New Zealand. Over many BCPs, I have had the privilege to better understand te Reo-Māori language, waiata-songs and the importance of whānau-family which is not necessarily limited to your relatives.

I also understand that my country has a lot of room for growth in incorporating our First Nations people's heritage and culture, beyond a day of recognition or a few keywords and/or phrases. No country is perfect; however, New Zealand has arguably done a remarkable job in acknowledging failures of the past, while fulfilling promises made to the people.

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

I'll never forget the bundle of energy that is Josh; an enigmatic combination of intelligence and excitement that made for a very exciting semester. Josh came to NZ and brought his love of airplanes with him, so what was the very first thing he did when arriving in the country? He managed to get himself the best seat on the plane...the pilot's seat..on the AirNZ long-haul flight to Auckland. Although it was largely for a photo-op, as soon as I heard the story, I knew then I had someone special in my cohort. Josh would later go on to correctly identify the aircraft model based on the sound of the engine while in air.

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

Hands down, I'd jump at the chance for the ISA Galway summer programme - Irish studies at the National U of Ireland. Not only would this satisfy my dream to get to Europe, but it would also be an opportunity to learn about my family's history in Ireland. Way back when, longer than I'd care to admit, I researched our family genealogy, and I would love to find our family crest that I discovered so many years ago.

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

I came to New Zealand as an international student; although older than the students that sign up with our company, I still wish that I had ISA to help navigate some tricky things that came up and just to answer questions as I had them. I always communicate with our students that we are available when they need us and sometimes that is days or even weeks into their semester. I am very proud of how my team and I are available to students and we always ensure students' questions are put up the chain until we get them an answer.

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

A successful company delivers on the promises they make; ISA offers students a quality experience in countries across the globe and employs on-site staff to maximize that experience. In order to deliver on those promises, a successful company must be comprised of people who are actively committed to the job they signed up for. Here in the Pacific, the on-site staff have extensive experience in education and/or studied abroad themselves. Knowledge combined with passion equals a standard of care for our students from pre-departure to arrival and success at their site.