MEI International Academy - "The World is Our Classroom"

MEI International Academy

About

Our guiding principle has always been to encourage students to learn about the world and how to live in it. It isn’t enough to travel abroad, visit historical sites and museums, and expect meaningful connections to happen automatically. Our mission is to offer a global high school experience with each lesson designed to inspire REAL education in the locations we visit.

We believe that the best education lies in experiencing the world around us where there are no desks, there are no walls: the world is our classroom.

Website
bit.ly
Founded
1997
Headquarters

15816 Peel Regional Rd 50
Bolton ON L7E 0A3
Canada

Reviews

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

MEI Academy offers an unparalleled overseas educational experience. Their programs are academically rigorous, but strike a perfect balance of both providing a safe overseas learning experience with adventurousness and immersive cultural experiences. The educators are outstanding, with strong curricular backgrounds and attentiveness to the social-emotional needs of their students while overseas. The locations are amazing, and the accommodations are always situated within walking distance of many major historical sites. If you're looking for an uncompromising experience for a high-school aged student, this is THE Canadian-based overseas educational program.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be prepared to do some academics before you leave. There is pre-departure work associated with each course.
Default avatar
Lola
9/10
No, I don't recommend this program

My adventure with MEI was an unforgettable, life changing experience. From the places we went to the people we went with, everything and everyone was amazing. You meet a whole new group of people that become your family, including your teachers. With spending every day together, you grow together, learn together and are able to experience the world together which is so great. I recommend MEI to any student or teenager that is adventurous, wants to see the world, wants more out of school or life, or needs help finding themselves.

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

MEI was the most amazing experience! I made some incredible, life long friendships, saw very beautiful places, and had the best teachers. They offer a good blend of academics and fun while taking us to all of the major tourist attractions in each location assuring we don’t miss out on anything. Living away from home without my parents taught me a lot of independence and helped prepare me for going away to school best year. My business class with Simon was the best course I have ever taken, he is the best teacher I have ever had. If you have the opportunity to go on this trip, do it!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice would be to put your phone down. Try to live in the moment and don’t get caught up on whats going on at home. Moments pass by and you don’t even realize it until you’re looking back.
Default avatar
sierra
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Going on MEI was one of the best decisions I could have ever made. Not only did we have this amazing opportunity to travel, meet amazing people, and be taught by the best teachers, but we were able to experience what is truly means to adventure, explore, and just feel alive. If you want to escape the ordinary, and truly step outside of your comfort zone, this is the trip for you. Every morning of these 90 days I woke up excited and eager for the adventure this new day would bring. Each day filled with unforgettable places, friends, experiences and moments, moments filled with pure joy and vitality. But on top of all this, I was also able to grow personally. MEI gives you just the right amount of guidance to help you gain independence and leadership, learn responsibly and help you find and forge this new and better version of yourself.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I would recommend that you truly just live in the moment as much as possible. Every single moment of this trip is special, and so you should try to be the most present you can be. Try and avoid being wrapped up on your phone too much, and try to keep your home life at home. Don’t dwell on what you might be “missing out on” overseas, because you are definitely not missing out on anything! You get out of this trip whatever you put into it! Also, try and get to know everyone on the trip. Don’t just stick to your own little group, branch out! I can assure you that you will have a lot more fun that way.
Default avatar
Kate
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I did 3 months of travel with MEI all throughout Asia and Australia. I was SO nervous when the trip started but after just a few days our group started to feel like a family. I met some of the best people and a couple I now consider my best friends. I promise you won’t find teachers that care as much as the ones on MEI. They are there for whatever you need. Not to mention they’re just amazing people. I noticed so much personal growth while I was on the trip. I really discovered who I was and who I wanted to be. I also feel like coming off of the trip, I know myself so much better. You get a chance to be super independent and manage a lot of your schedule. It taught me to use my time wisely and definitely prepared me for future schooling and university. The trip might seem a little scary but it will be the best thing you can do. Travel the world with your future best friends. I promise you won’t regret it.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Enjoy every moment. You’ll always wish you were still travelling. Manage your time well. Explore, do some more exploring and once you think you’ve explored enough, do some more. There are so many things to see.

Programs

Displaying 10 - 10 of 10

Alumni Interviews

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

Lisa Marshall

Lisa is a Grade 12 high school student who is passionate about travel and learning about the world.

Why did you choose this program?

Growing up, my family chose to travel a lot as we believe it enhances one’s global mindset which is crucial in today's world. We heard about the program through our neighbors whose daughters did it. We believed this program would provide a perfect opportunity to travel as well as earn recognizable high school credits. My older sister decided to participate in the Ancient World Odessey trip in her summer leading into Grade 12 and had so many amazing memories to share when she returned. I knew I want to participate.

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

MEI's website was super easy to navigate when looking up programs and finding which was right for you. Before deciding, there were multiple meetings in my city from teachers who are with MEI to ask questions or any concerns I had. Once I chose the program I wanted, everything travel-wise was organized through MEI. They booked all hotels, plane tickets, and even helped with Visa applications for China.

During foundation work before we left, all the teachers and students of the program were able to contact each other using a Facebook group that was set up by MEI for asking questions and getting to know each other.

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

I think the one piece of advice that any student who is wondering if they should go on an MEI trip should know is that MEI is an academic program which requires hard work. Of course, that is not to say you don't get to go out and see the location you are in, but more of a word of caution that you have to be willing to work hard in order to get good grades as you might get in your normal high school.

Since the summer programs are condensed versions of courses you may usually take in four months down into 35 days, you have to acknowledge that you will always have an assignment on the go. My biggest piece of advice is that you shouldn't procrastinate while on the program and always finish with your best work possible.

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

An average day with MEI is fairly standard across all programs. You wake up and have morning workout at about 7:00 local time until 7:30. This workout is one of the best activities to start your day with. Often, we play ultimate frisbee or other active group activities to wake us up and help beat jet lag. We then head back to where we are staying and get changed and eat breakfast. At around 9:00 AM, we meet again as a class and participate in Morning Note, a journaling exercise which requires 900 words in 30 minutes. This allows us to get ready academically for the day and helps train us to write fast.

After that, we will either already be at our lecture location or we will walk to it. This location is always relevant to the material we are learning that day. After our lecture, we are often assigned an assignment and have around four hours of free time to head out in groups of three to explore the city and work.

In the two course programs, we meet again in the afternoon to have another lecture and head to dinner as a family or small groups. At the end of the day, we have free time to unwind after dinner, get work done with friends in other rooms at the hotel, and go back to our own assigned rooms for room check where teachers give us important information about the next day.

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 about going abroad was the fact I went alone without knowing anyone else, and being scared that I wouldn't make friends. This was completely changed with MEI from the first day everyone came in to meet everyone with this same fear. The fear quickly evaporated as we really met each other and talked for a bit.

MEI builds a family on each trip where you feel that you truly belong. All the teachers on the trip are easy to talk to and feel more of a mentor than a normal classroom teacher who you might be intimidated to talk to. Once you start to live with everyone and move as a group, you realize that the students you are with are just like you, and you just become so quickly bonded! In the future, I look forward to travelling solo and meeting new people I might have never talked to on a normal day at home.

Staff Interviews

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

Simon Worley

Job Title
Program Designer & Lead Teacher

Simon has been a teacher and program designer with MEI International Academy since 2012. He has been around the world multiple times taking hundreds of students from Cambodia to China, the Swiss Alps to Sydney.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Going to Angkor Wat with students is an incredible experience as I'm always there for a first time because I'm seeing it through their eyes. The sense of wonder and discovery is everywhere and the feelings of awe can be seen on all of their faces.

One such trip, we had an incredibly entertaining Tuk Tuk driver who told us everything we needed to know about each temple and their importance within Cambodian culture.

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

Leading a group of 30 around the world demands organizational skills and being able to roll with whatever gets thrown your way. I've become a very good listener after so many wonderful conversations with both locals and students.

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

I recently returned home from 90 days in Asia and Australia and I heard about a student that was terrified of snorkeling, let alone diving, yet they conquered their fears and dove the Great Barrier Reef.

Overcoming obstacles and self-doubt is incredible to witness and I'm so happy to have been a part of that student's experience.

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

I am about to leave for the Africa Trimester and I'm incredibly excited about that as I've never been to that continent yet. I am fascinated by the culture, landscape, environment, and people.

That being said, I have a soft spot for the Fall Program as it pushes students to physically and emotionally step out of their comfort zone... and that's where the real learning begins!

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

MEI Academy is unique because we aren't enclosed by a classroom. We explore, experience, touch and feel our surroundings. Our courses are designed to interact with the local environment as much as possible while still pushing students academically. I'm proud to constantly redefine education and experience.

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

I work with my best friends, people who aren't scared to push students to get the best out of them. The teachers at MEI make the company. The foundation of excellence that Joe and Rita Mei set up over twenty years ago lives on in my colleagues and even in myself every now and then!