University Studies Abroad

USAC

Why choose USAC?

USAC is a non-profit consortium of U.S. universities that collaborates to offer affordable, academic and authentic study abroad programs. There are abundant opportunities to immerse in the culture, history, and academics of other countries providing an unforgettable experience. Each program is designed to help you grow into an engaged citizen of the world—not only through academic experiences, but also through field trips, internships, volunteering, and service learning.

Students can choose from programs in over 50 cities across more than 25 countries, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America, and Oceania. Students can enroll to study abroad with USAC for summer, semester, an entire academic year, or winter session.

Website
usac.edu
Founded
1982

Scholarships

USAC logo

USAC Scholarships and Financial Aid

USAC awards over $2 million in scholarships and discounts each year to assist students with their study abroad expenses.

Value
$500 - $5,000

Diversity & Inclusion

LGBTQIA+ Support

There are LGBTQIA+ friends, colleagues, and allies throughout the world. However, cultural understanding of gender identity and sexuality does vary from country to country. USAC has compiled a lot of resources to help you through that learning process.

Accessibility Support

USAC is dedicated to working closely with students with disabilities to ensure the best study abroad experience possible. You may request reasonable accommodations after your initial application is complete. We routinely receive requests for scheduling, material, and environmental accommodations for the classroom setting, which may include assistive technology, scribes and readers, printed material, and interpretation.

Impact

Sustainability

Environmentally-conscious students choose USAC because many of our programs are held in some of the most sustainable countries in the world. There are options to take coursework in sustainability and the environment, as well as field trips and studies where students can leave a lasting impact on their host country.

Reviews

Default avatar
Gretchen
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

An experience that changed me for the better

I absolutely loved my time abroad! It really changed me for the better. At first, I was very hesitant to get out of my comfort zone and really see the country because of my fear of spending money, but once I broke through that barrier, I couldn't stop traveling! I saw both coasts, went to both the Nicoya and Osa Peninsulas, visited the mountains in Monteverde, experienced San José night life, and so much more.

When I wasn't traveling, I really enjoyed spending time with my amazing host family, who included me in so many of their family activities, which made it feel like I had a home away from home. I really liked that I studied in San Ramón, because while it isn't nearly as big as something like San José, it still has so many things to do and see. It's smaller size also makes it a lot safer and easier to get around.

While I do speak Spanish, many of the other program students went into the experience with very little Spanish skills and were able to have an awesome experience while also learning SO MUCH of the language along the way - so if you're nervous or unsure about going because of Spanish skills, GO ANYWAYS :) If you DO study Spanish, studying abroad will help so much - my biggest Spanish issue before this experience was understanding native speakers, and now I'm SO much better at it. Costa Rican Spanish is a good place to start because it's a very neutral form compared to the Spanish in other Hispanic countries.

As for academics, while we did have some bumps in the roads with professors, for the most part, I learned so much and had some amazing professors with whom I formed some great bonds. The program staff was super helpful, and since it was such a small program, it was a more personal experience. The small class sizes allowed each individual to receive more academic attention and therefore have better success.

Overall, while my study abroad experience began because I was required to do so for my Spanish minor, I got so much more out of it than just that. I now have a network of friends all over the United States and Costa Rica and feel like a more well-rounded perspective with a more open-minded view on life.

What was your funniest moment?
We were coming back from San Jose on a bus, and my friend's duffel bag was stolen from the luggage compartment under the bus cabin. She was super worried because in the bag was her $150 pair of binoculars. Luckily, she had an AirTag on it, so she could see that someone got off the bus with it and was walking down the highway. We took an Uber down the highway to look for the person but saw nothing.

With no luck, we were waiting for another Uber to take us back to the bus stop, when we see a man coming around the corner with my friend's bag! Surprisingly, THE MAN was the one to approach and say "Is this your bag? I took it from the bus by accident." So, we took the bag from him, he kept walking, and we took an Uber back to the bus stop.

THE FUNNIEST MOMENT: On the Uber ride back, my friend checked to make sure everything was still in her bag. Everything was still there, including her expensive binoculars, except for one thing: HER DIRTY UNDERWEAR. THAT CREEP LEFT $150 BINOCULARS BUT TOOK HER DIRTY UNDERWEAR. We were astounded but continued to laugh about it for about 3 hours afterwards, and still joke about the Panty Raid to this day.
Pros
  • Small program = more personal experience
  • Very easy to travel with the bus system, hostels, Uber, and AirBnbs
  • Amazing biodiversity and landscapes
Cons
  • San Ramón program closed this year :( but there is still Heredia
  • Higher cost of living compared to other countries in Central America
Default avatar
Gabriella
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

First of many trips!

I came into college as a sport business major and a French minor. After loving my classes and wanting to study abroad, it was easy for my professor to convince me to turn my French minor into a major. I decided to go to France to complete my requirements for the major then be done with French classes. Once I arrived in Lyon, France I quickly realized I didn't want those classes to be my last French classes. During my short four months in France, I traveled to 15 cities across 6 different countries. I fell in love with traveling and realized I could picture myself working abroad. Studying abroad was the best thing I have ever done in my life! When I returned from France, I became a Global Ambassador for my university's study abroad office. I was so passionate about sharing my experience and wanting others to have the same great experience as I did. My top three takeaways from studying abroad are:
1. You gain lifelong friends
2. You become more independent
3. You create lifelong memories
From the very first night I made some of my closest friends. Our entire program got along and we would cook meals together to save money, we would go out together, and we would travel together. After being back in the United States for 4 months, we are already planning a reunion so everyone can see each other. Going into studying abroad I expected to make friends, but I never expected the whole group to do activities together. It made the whole experience less intimidating because everyone was always up for an adventure.
Even though I had made many friends, I still became more independent while living in France. It was a little bit of an adjustment knowing that I wasn't in the same country as my family, but it made me more independent. I had to learn how to navigate the public transportation system, speak to native French speakers, plan my own travel agenda, and do my own shopping. Learning to do these activities on my own made me a more confident person and I took this confidence back to the United States with me.
The last takeaway I gained from studying abroad were the memories. There wasn't a single night that I wasn't doing something with my friends. Whether it was staying in and playing a card game, trying a new restaurant, visiting a museum, going to a rugby match, celebrating a birthday, celebrating Thanksgiving together, or shopping at the Christmas markets, there was always something to do and something to help improve your French. I went in to France with no confidence in my speaking at all, but when I returned to America I had much more confidence and my speaking improved so much.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice for future travelers is to tell yourself yes! No matter what, if you think it is a good idea, it's not illegal, and you'll have fun with it, say yes to yourself. If you are walking by a bakery and you see a new pastry you want to try, say yes. If your friends invite you out, but you feel tired, still say yes! You only have so much time in the country you choose to study abroad in. You don't want to get home and have regrets about what you wish you would've done. Put your fears aside, and be as open minded as you can. You will have the time of your life as long as you embrace their culture and try to experience as much as you can. I would also highly suggest writing a journal! I have never been the kind of person to write in a journal because I was never consistent enough for it, but I forced myself to do it for my study abroad experience. I'm so happy that I have my memories written down because a picture can only help me remember so much. I love going back and looking through all my memories! It's one of my favorite souvenirs from the trip, so try to motivate yourself enough to write in a journal!
Pros
  • Travel opportunities
  • Friendships
  • Well organized
Cons
  • We couldn't have people over past 10pm in the dorm
Default avatar
Annabelle
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Exactly what it should be!

This experience was what a study abroad experience should be. It was a centralized location, so it was easy to travel to other countries, and it was an easy place to become immersed. The program directors on site did a fantastic job with organizing programs and trips and our apartment was awesome. I took classes in relevant subjects to my business degree, and I learned about areas of history in the world that I have never had the opportunity for up until this point. There were some cultural differences with the post communism environment there, but it wasn't hard to adapt.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The bear moat around Cesky Krumlov!
Default avatar
Joshua
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Something I will never forget

Studying abroad was one of the best decisions I ever made. It can be nerve racking at first but I had some of the best faculty / staff to help me through this journey. Going on this trip I made friendships with people that will last forever. I made memories that I will never forget. I was also able to find a city that I have fallen in love with and might move to in the future. I can’t recommend enough to people that if you can you 100% should study abroad. It is something that changes you for the better.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Before this study abroad I was nervous about going to Prague since I didn’t know many people who had gone and I knew they spoke a different language. I learned though that I found a hidden gem in Europe and I found out most people speak English and are willing to teach you some Czech.
Pros
  • Beautiful
  • Walkable
  • Amazing public transportation
Cons
  • A little hot in the summer without AC
  • Language barrier sometimes happens with older residents
  • The local food is be a bit intimidating
Default avatar
Ashley
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Life changing growth from living abroad

Going abroad for the first time, surrounded by a new culture, language, and form of transportation is daunting but I couldn't recommend it enough. USAC's home base of Torino, Italy allowed for me to immerse myself within the Italian Culture, learning about the people, societal differences, cuisine, and history. Being 5 months post-abroad, I can reflect full circle how this city shaped me so much as a person. If you have the opportunity, go abroad, it will change your life in the best way with such enriching and unique experiences!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Embrace every second abroad and give yourself grace. Make every moment a memory if you can! Say yes to everything, go on that walk, go to that museum or market, go on that program trip. You are only there for a short amount of time, and each memory I reflect on with so much joy and love. Try your best to push yourself out of you comfort zone, say yes to everything you can and grow! There will be times that the experience is overwhelming, you miss home, you've been so busy from traveling and school. It is valuable to give yourself grace in these moments and let yourself breathe. Sometimes having a night in, or just talking a walk by yourself along the Po River is fueling to your body when life is so busy and new!
Pros
  • Program offers trips for you to learn more about the Italian Culture
  • Group of American students to befriend and share experiences with. Everyone is in the same boat!
  • Beautiful city that does not have extreme tourism. Such a rich culture, history, cuisine, to experience!
Cons
  • Overwhelming at first adjustment to new city
  • Mainly alone in figuring out transportation when first arriving in the city
  • Some unsafe parts in city, just keep your head on a swivel!

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Interview

Why did you choose this program?

I chose USAC's Nagasaki program because they offered a lot of classes that I wanted to take. Teaching Foreign Languages, Peace Studies, International Relations, Traditional Arts, and Martial Arts sounded like amazing, once-in-a-lifetime classes to take in Japan. The location was also very important to me. I didn't want to go to a big city and I knew that I wanted to be surrounded by nature. Nagasaki has so many mountains and hills. It's such a beautiful place. It was also the most affordable of USAC's Japan program options.

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

USAC helped with a lot of the paperwork process. They had a few webinars. One was for understanding the visa process. They gave us some online guides on how to do stuff, like how to prepare for the flight, health and safety stuff, and how to adjust once you're finally abroad. USAC also gives out scholarships if you apply on their website. I ended up being given $2,500 in scholarship money from them.

All I really did on my own was fill out the forms/applications, mail out the visa application, and book my flight.

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

If you plan to come to Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies, then I have two pieces of advice for you. The first is to save up as much as possible. Even though everything is much more affordable in Japan, you will end up going out a lot with friends and the money adds up fast. My second piece of advice is to make as many friends as you can within the first week or two of being here. That is when everyone is very social. People form their groups fast, so don't be shy. If you are too shy to start a conversation, just sit somewhere alone on campus, and right away, people will come up to you to talk.

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

An average school day is different for everyone here. But in general, classes for most start at either 1st or 2nd period. The classes work in a way that kind of makes it feel like high school. We have 6 periods but most of the classes end at 5th. 6th-period classes are really just for make-up classes. Classes are an hour and a half each. Students in our program usually have about 1-3 classes per day. Language classes are twice per week. For other semesters they have been four times per week. When we're not in classes or doing homework, we are usually exploring and/or out with friends.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Honestly, one of my biggest fears was just getting here. I have a huge fear of airports (not airplanes) because there are so many things that can go wrong. Once I finally got to Japan, though, I was completely fine. Somehow, nothing had gone too wrong. Looking back, I think it was a good thing to worry about, but not to the extent of how much I was worrying. Now my biggest fear is the thought of going back to the U.S. I love it here so much that I hate the thought of myself willingly going back by the time my visa is up.

Do you feel homesick?

No. I only miss two things, which are my dog and my best friend. I can FaceTime my friend, though. We even have plans for her to come to Japan at the end of this semester so that we can travel around the country. But I can't do that with my dog.

My point is that a lot of the other people in my program are pretty homesick. But I'm not. So, if you're really close to your family then, yeah, you will probably really miss them. But if you don't have much that you're leaving behind for a semester or two, then you shouldn't have to worry too much about it. Plus, you can always Facetime or message them.

Staff Interviews

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

Sarah Kapel

Job Title
Program Advisor

Sarah advises students who are planning to study abroad in USAC China, Prague, Haifa, and Bristol programs, and helps them with housing, flights, culture shock, and any other pre-departure questions they may have. She graduated with a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Nevada, Reno and studied Visual Design at the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts. When she's not at work, she loves to hike, ride her bike, and explore local coffee shops.

What is your favorite travel memory?

While in Costa Rica, I loved seeing the local flora and fauna every day. Every morning, I would have a cup of the best café in the world with my host family, and then I would walk to school. I loved how normal it was to see beautiful bromeliads growing on the side of the road and hearing howler monkeys.

On my walks to school in Puntarenas, there were two iguanas that would greet me in the morning. I named them Magenta and Ramses, and they made me smile every day.

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

I have learned to laugh at my mistakes. I started at USAC as a student worker and recently was promoted to a Program Advisor. I used to be very nervous to make a mistake, but working with USAC encouraged me to use those moments as opportunities to learn and grow personally and professionally.

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

I recently received an e-mail from a USAC student who just returned from studying for a semester in China. He thanked USAC for giving him the opportunity to see new parts of the world, meet interesting local people, and learn more about his own culture and heritage.

I love when students have personal connections to our programs because I believe that it enhances their experience, and they gain a greater appreciation for their own heritage.

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

Montevideo, Uruguay. Since this program opened, I have been dreaming of visiting this beautiful oceanside city. I love learning about Latin American culture, and I think that Uruguay would offer a unique experience separate from more traditional locations. The program also has super cool tours and fields trips offered – like visiting Buenos Aires!

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

USAC is unique because we have a lot of heart. All of us have studied abroad or lived abroad so we know how special it can be. I am proud of USAC every day, but we do have a pretty amazing Halloween party each year. I was so proud of my team for decking out in full Harry Potter themed attire this past year.

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

I think it’s really important to support your coworkers.

USAC is a successful company because we are one big family, and we help each other out.

Even though we have hundreds of staff members spread out all over the world, we're able to support each other near and far. Being supportive of one another sponsors a positive work environment.