University Studies Abroad Consortium


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 28 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. For more information on the USAC programs, visit the USAC web site directly:



Time abroad speaks through me in soft ways, like I’ve awakened a secret power within, which I can never lay to rest.

I light up when people ask about my time abroad. I’m humbled and astonished that so many remember my social media stories from the summer.

My Chinese friends call and we talk. I see my content resurface some days. Peers from my USAC groups and I recount memories like they were yesterday. When I talk to other friends who studied abroad, we’ve all new insights after our lives across the world.

Back in America, I’ll sometimes absentmindedly read Chinese off menus and signs that I never before I realized had Chinese characters. Even while seeing things as simple as sidewalks, I flashback to the way paths were wider in China.

The trauma of losing my mother left me still trying to piece together who I was, who people admired me for before the accident. Shanghai was my cradle, I realize when I look back at my life abroad. The ‘me’ I was in that city seeded the ‘me’ I am today. Who I was before, I still search for.

At the University, I frequent the Newman Center to rest. Catholicism and traditional Chinese conveniently share beliefs about death. Some nights, waking on the floor where my bed lies, I feel saddened I’ll never be able to tell Mother in-person about all I learned in China, not just about our family but about her. I often consider Mom’s values in my decisions and find myself still coming to terms with her. By the end of 2017, I’m ready for life’s next step. But placing my final photos into this book on my last day compiling, I realized — it's all real.

Everything I saw, everyone I met, every word I said was real, and all of those experiences are part of me now.

Who I was abroad and who I am now are the same: changed. I aspire during December 2018 to conduct my Honors thesis research in China, focused on Catholic media. Between juggling projects this semester, I’ve begun contacting people about options to consider. I may return to the subject in graduate school, possibly abroad again. I sincerely hope all who have the opportunity to go abroad to see a country of ancestry will.

Ultimately, I want to help people through this story. I want people to share the things that move them, that help them reimagine their lives for the better. I hope this especially for the memoir I write of discovering my mother through family.

One of the most special changes in my life has been my ability to relate more deeply with Chinese people, new friends and old.

Exactly one month after I reached America from the Pacific, I saw the Atlantic. On a surprise trip to Yale University for a conference the fall after China, I saw two of my favorite classmates I hadn’t been with since high school graduation. Coincidentally, both women were Chinese. My mom would have felt elated, I’m sure. They showed me their campus and took me to eat and introduced me to people as their high school friend the way that students I met in China had called me their foreign friend. I felt moved in ways I could scarcely describe. Even trips across the United States prod in me the twinge of magic I felt across the world.

I no longer look at myself as simply “Asian-American” — I’m Chinese.

How can this program be improved?
A little more description up front that if we want to learn more, we just have to be a little assertive :)
Yes, I recommend

It's the people as much as the location that make the experience! I used USAC for two separate trips. Cuba was unique- with a political component that is significant in current events. The history incorporated into every day life is also unique. This program is incredibly affordable and a memorable experience. I recommend staying with a host family (although they can't technically call the accommodations such). If you're picky about food, this isn't for you. Otherwise, I enjoyed the inexpensive cuisine. Try the pizza!

How can this program be improved?
air conditioning
Yes, I recommend
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USAC France: Pau

The town of Pau is a quaint yet modern. The French streets and centre-ville are quintessentially French and this town turned out to be the perfect place to study abroad. It is easy to travel in the surrounding area to make for a weekend adventure but having Pau as a home base facilitates being in school throughout the week and being successful in class, including consistent attendance. My program through USAC as well as a course I was taking, accommodated dates and times as well as activities and guides for weekend visits to other towns and regions. Personally, my whole undergraduate career was leading up to my study abroad experience, and I was thinking ahead of time what it would be like once I returned home and how I could use the experience abroad to affect my life after I returned home, in work and school and my general outlook on life. Study abroad affected all of these aspects in a positive way.
Something important that I didn't anticipate was that my immune system would be affected and I would get sick while I was abroad. This happened twice where I had to go to a physician but I was able to use the University medical services and the people there were very helpful and understanding and the services as well as medicine were not nearly as expensive as they would have been back home. That was a pleasant surprise, but these services were also covered through the study abroad insurance. I also found that I needed to commute to school, while it is not easy to choose where a future host family lives, it might be useful to mention that proximity to campus is a key factor in your housing preferences. Getting lost is just something that happens and will happen often, if you are someone who has a great sense of direction I would offer your services or assert yourself amongst friends and classmates! International phone plan is also absolutely necessary, especially being able to use internet without wifi (which will happen often because there is not nearly as much free wifi in France as there is in the U.S.). If you have arranged for a host family, make this a priority, this is THE best way to improve your french outside of class, and only a couple hundred dollars more than the dorms (but includes more meals in a family setting, laundry and in most cases wifi at home, a kitchen, etc.). Also know that arrangements for housing aren't all clearly laid out ahead of time, each family is particular and will generally offer more than they are expected because I found that most French families are generous. The program will make every effort to match your specific and ideal requests with the right family and do not hesitate to ask for exactly what you would like in a home stay experience.

How can this program be improved?
more telling/descriptive information from USAC about the specific aspects of daily living and connecting earlier on with the host family would help alleviate prior anxiety. Life in France is very, very different than life in the U.S. and a sneak peek of what that looks like before you have to enter it all at once may be helpful and reassuring for some students.
I would go grocery shopping every couple of days for food and I would pack little lunches to save money or in some cases I would bring leftovers from dinner with my family at home. You might want to bring a lunchbox with to pack food during the day.
Yes, I recommend
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This was my first time studying abroad and I couldn't have chosen a better program, than the program USAC offerd for La Habana, Cuba. The Director and everyone, including professors, touring guides, locals, couldn't have been sweeter. This experience was life changing. Even though we didn't have all the resources available to us so easily, it became such a humbling experience and made you appreciate everything you have back at home. The professors were super knowledgeable and tried to make the educational portion very interesting and fun. There is simply so much to see and to learn. The optional week offered is a MUST. You see so many cool places and learn about all the different regions and history. I dream every day to go back. #CubaLibre

How can this program be improved?
I loved everything about the program!
Yes, I recommend
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I had the time of my life on this trip. Havana is beautiful, and there's a lot of fun things to do and see. USAC does a great job organizing fun and educational experiences, and they find relatively great housing for students. They also offer a week-long tour of the island, which is incredible and critical to the experience considering most of the country is not like Havana. There's a lot to learn about the history and culture of Cuba, and the trip will dispel many misconceptions Americans have about US-Cuban relations. The classes are really what you make of them: my experience was that the Cuban professors USAC partners with are very kind and knowledgeable, but there's a lot they won't talk about unless you ask. Havana is very safe, but because of the economic situation there be prepared to be bothered for money. Also be prepared to go without some privileges: water pressure, air conditioning, free toilet paper, use of your debit/credit card, etc. Overall an unbelievable, unique, and eye-opening experience, especially because these may be historic times for US-Cuban relations. Just about everyone on my trip wanted to go back soon.

Yes, I recommend

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