CIEE Global Navigator

Program Reviews

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Eniman
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

You Don't Want To Miss This

The program I attended with CIEE was the French Language and Culture Program in Toulouse, France from July 11 to August 7, 2021. I did this the summer before my junior year. This was the first time I had ever studied abroad as well as been to France and the CIEE team organized the program flawlessly from my group flight from Atlanta to the time the program ended. My excitement overweighed my nervousness as I was eager to begin exploring France having studied for over 10 years. I would recommend this to anyone.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Staying with a host family was the most nerve-wracking thing. I had never done anything like it before talk less of the fact that I would be speaking to them in French. However, with time, I got so close to my host sisters and mom and enjoyed living with them in the 1 month of being Toulouse.
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Abey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An unforgettable experience

If you find yourself wondering if traveling abroad with CIEE is for you, my advice is to go for it. It's difficult to describe just how incredible my experience has been studying abroad in Roma, Italy. The staff is so supportive and I've formed very close bonds with the other students. It has truly been an unforgettable experience that has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and grow so much as a person. I'm so grateful to have had this experience and to have met these wonderful people.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
As we walked into the Sistine Chapel, my eyes began to water and a few tears traced my cheeks. I was in complete awe of the beauty of the room and felt a moment of derealization. I could not believe that the art that I had wanted to see in person since I was little was just meters above my head. Immediately, my peers rushed over to ask if I was okay. The true answer was that I could not possibly be more happy.
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Julia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Trip

I went on a CIEE High School Summer Abroad trip (HSSA) and it was amazing. Exploring Rome thru the Arts 2021. Writing as a upcoming Junior who has just completed her trip, I can say that this was truly the best experience of my life. Going into this trip, I had been looking forward to it for months and months. Just like that it rolled around and suddenly, I was with 20 kids I had never met before. At first I'm sure most of us were anxious to how we would be like. But within the first week we all clicked, all of us genuinely got together so well and began to embark on experiences we never would have had otherwise. The activities and little moments we had every single day made it feel unreal. Being able to witness the ceilings of the Vatican, roaming Tivoli's villa gardens... We laughed, even cried. I could not have asked for a better group to be with. The program itself was great, structured time for our course, and free time in the city. We explored new culture, people, food, language, in every sense. I was too busy and having too much fun to be homesick so that's a plus. By the time we were all content and starting to really take in everything, the program had ended. In the end, I was actually heartbroken and devastated to leave my new friends and the beautiful city of Rome. I know we will meet again someday and I will see Rome again, but CIEE made such a wonderful program there that has given me some of the most life changing experiences I will ever have. 100/100 recommend. Amazing staff on my program, I thank CIEE for giving me this opportunity. I would recommend students to apply for scholarships even if you don't think you will get one, it helped me a lot. Again, thank you to the outstanding support on CIEE's part but mostly thank you to all the students on this program with me! You've made it truly unforgettable. <3

Sincerely, Julia Sogol Alamdar

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Have fun. Be flexible, and remember you are only going to have this moment once. Once it passes, it's gone. Enjoy every single second of your trip and make memories you won't forget. I know I did.
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Katelyn
5/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Experience In Ireland With CIEE

I studied in Waterford, Ireland my senior year of high school. It was a decent overall experience. I made some good friends and got to immerse in the culture through school. However, the first host family that I was assigned was very verbally abusive and when I went to the local coordinator, she was dismissive of the personality difference and said it was my fault and that I was in culture shock. For months this employee would continually pin the blame on me and make me feel even worse in an already horrible situation. Halloween night my host mother yelled at me to the point that I had a panic attack and was hyperventilating, for the first time in my life, rather than just leaving me crying as was the usual. My parents were able to force my movement from their end and I went to a family that was already hosting a student. After I left, she went through almost the same thing as she tried to leave that family. The company has a good base structure, but it is poorly implemented where it counts.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have a bigger focus on the student, it's their experience, they should be allowed to have a good one.
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Grace
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

4 weeks in Alicante, Spain!

I had an incredible time in Alicante over the summer. I grew a lot in both personally, in my own independence, and in my Spanish-speaking skills. Alicante is incredible. The school where we attended classes was a 5-minute walk to the beach. Every afternoon there was some activity planned, like doing a city bike tour or beach volleyball, and every day it was different. On the weekends there would be bigger outings planned, such as spending a day visiting castles and waterfalls.
Alicante isn't a really well-known city, which was initially unappealing to me, but I think it was a better choice than a big city would've been. We had a weekend trip to Madrid, and I realized that being in a bigger city had a lot of potential for things to go wrong... a lot more theft and crime occurs in more prevalent cities.
The classes were intriguing and my professor was really fun and made class actually appealing. I liked that we not only learned about the language but also about the culture of the place we were staying in. Often, our afternoon activities would be catered to what we were learning about in class, which made my learning experience so fascinating. I'd taken 3 years of Spanish prior to the trip, (the requirement is at least 2) which I thought would suffice, but it really wasn't enough. A lot of the 40 kids on the program were nearly fluent, having spoken it from childhood. And instead of there being 4 different levels of class intensities as advertised, there were 3 classes: 2 for advanced kids and 1 for not-advanced, like me:). So for that reason I'd recommend 3+ years of Spanish unless you regularly speak it. Without a roommate with me in my host home, I would've had an extremely difficult time trying to communicate with my host mom. Having someone who also spoke English kept me sane when I didn't understand anything.
After class each day, you'd go home for lunch with your host family and take a siesta, which would be a couple hours of downtime, where you could really do whatever you wanted: do your homework, take a nap, watch Netflix, go to the beach, go shopping, etc. The siestas were some of my favorite times on the program because it gave me time to just chill out, especially when we had busy days, or do something with my friends. But I was really impressed with CIEE for the level of planning and preparedness they orchestrated for our afternoon activities and weekend outings. There would always be a perfect balance between downtime/free time and planned activities.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
1) Request a roommate. I'm a bit more introverted, and I didn't think I would want a roommate, but having one made the trip SO much better. I always had someone to walk back to the house with after classes, and it made communication with Spanish speakers a lot easier when we could tag-team something we didn't understand. If you're super confident in your language skills, then you can go solo.
2) ALSO, don't book flights with FlightFox. CIEE will recommend it if you choose a group flight, but it is NOT WORTH IT. I was on an individual flight to JFK and then on a group flight to Madrid and then Alicante, but because of weather issues we were rerouted to Atlanta halfway to JFK, and I missed both my connections. I had to rebook the flights for full price, and wait 24 hours in JFK. I had even used the insurance that CIEE recommended (iNext), which says it covers that, but now it's November and we're still disputing the claims. So, moral of the story, don't use FlightFox. Book on your own. Unless you're really on a budget, because FlightFox will literally get the worst airlines ever. AirEuropa, what they booked me on, landed me not being passed by customs coming back to the US because they had put my name in wrong and said I was 19, not 16. Just... so bad. Another airline we went on refused to let a girl on our program board because the flight was full, yet she had bought a ticket... so she had to wait 16 hours for the next flight. Don't use FlightFox!! Save yourself the pain.
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Robert
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Summer of a Lifetime

My time in Palma was a life-changing experience, and I would recommend it to anybody considering applying. The island is simply breathtaking and I found the locals to be extremely friendly. I remember one instance where a friend and I spoke with a woman for over a half hour who told us about some of the island's history and even showed us pictures of her family. My favorite experience was during El Día de San Juan, when I witnessed the craziest, most vibrant display of pyrotechnics I have ever seen from the Dimonis of the Correfoc. One thing I should note is that the program is very structured, so it may not be the number one choice for those looking for a largely flexible trip. All said, it was truly incredible and I wouldn't change a thing!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Make every moment count, because a month flies by.
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Umulkair
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Morocco

Morocco was a riveting and absolutely beautiful experience. From the beautiful gardens to the beach to the bustling Medina, market, you had to be vigilant, not only to save your belongings and to fully enjoy and burn into your Rabat’s beauty into your memory. I was painfully unaware of the saving your belongings part yet that would not ruin my experience. The food you will eat in Rabat, such as tajine and Moroccan tea will be missed by your tastebuds. You will experience Moroccan culture but also Tamazight, the oldest people living in Morocco and the hardships they faced. You will also witness French colonization and how deep of a effect it has. Last but not least you will experience the culture of Sub-Saharan Africans who live some as refugees and others as professionals and Islamic culture but with the Moroccan spin on it.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Hold onto your belongings and don’t be so trusting because they are Muslims too. Also, GET A FANNY PACK. Its so useful.
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Gabrielle
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Mohammedia, Morocco Study Abroad (Mentoring Youth and Raising Social Awareness)

Going into the Mohemmedia, Morocco mentoring youth and raising social awareness program, I had no prior expectations. I did not know much about the culture, language, or what I would be experiencing. After essentially being in it, I was amazed. Everyone was so kind to one another and I had so much support from my peers and program leaders. It honestly felt like we were part of a real family. Being with the host families was also a very life-changing experience. I loved how not only were we able to travel to Morocco, but we were able to be in a space where we could truly experience the culture and how it is like to live in a Moroccan household, essentially as though we were really Moroccans. Lastly, the kids were probably one of the best highlights of the trip. I loved seeing their eagerness to learn English and how quickly we all bonded with them. Not only were we teaching them English, but they also helped us learn Darija, which was very helpful once we were out in the local community and had to communicate with the local people. Overall, my experience was one that I will never forget and I will definitely take what I learned there back to my own home community. I definitely encourage anyone interested in this program to definitely consider applying and going through with the process of getting in.

What was your funniest moment?
Probably dinner time when the family and my roommate and I would crack lots of jokes.
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Aleksey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Overall

The program was amazing. Nothing to say here. The family experience was where most of my learning and growth happened. Of course it depends on how you spent time with family, but I personally ensured that we stayed in the target language, Italian, for most of the time with rare exceptions. I learned a little more about Italian culture and their norms as well as a significant language boost which the classroom could never provide. I took 2 trips with my host family outside Ferrara, and a couple times we went out within Ferrara to the movies or something else. The classroom was great. My teacher was very kind, and not strict at all like the program staff. The projects we did and their presentations helped me learn as well. But to be completely honest, I expected the classroom to benefit me more than it did. The family experience turned out to be much more effective than the class. Then there were the weekend trips and after school activities with CIEE. We got to tour a theater, make pizza, make pasta, learn to sing, learn photography, etc. All those activities may not have necessarily helped with learning the language, but rather they helped learn the culture. They were all very fun and entertaining so I'm glad they were there. The 2 weekend trips to Venice and San Marino were also very good. We had a lot of free time there to roam with friends and enjoy sight seeing, as well as some shopping. I only have two criticisms for this program. 1. The missions in the street- They were these activities where we had to approach strangers in Ferrara and ask them questions and have a conversation. Most of them turned out very awkward and I ended up faking all the ones for the last week. It seems like a good idea but in practice it just puts students into uncomfortable scenarios. Perhaps it may work with a few tweaks. 2. Program leaders - They seemed nice at first but there were moments where they acted very unfair and unreasonable. They are biased towards certain students, and don't give chances for behavioral improvement. Basically, if they see something negative in you the first day, you are going to have a bad experience with them for the rest of the program. I personally was on their good side but I still noticed how unreasonable they can be at times, sometimes on a very small but irritating scale. For example, I didn't do an assignment along with 7 other people because there was a misunderstanding on the due date. They ended up pulling me out mid way through a movie we were watching to make it up. I feel like that was a little unfair. There was also a point where we were buying water and the program leaders told us to leave the store just as we were about to pay for it because apparently we had to go. We have to put the water back and upon exiting the store, we took a few steps away and stood there with the rest of the group doing nothing for 10 minutes while they figured stuff out. We could have bought water and it wouldn't hurt anyone. The program leaders also cancelled the third weekend trip because of rain and the rain never happened. Felt like they were simply lazy to go and jumped at the first excuse. There were many other much worse examples that happened with other students though like I said, I kept to their good side. My opinion on this program overall is that CIEE puts you through an amazing immersive experience, but the program leaders break some of that immersion.

What would you improve about this program?
The program leaders need to be a little less uptight about little things and should be more trusting and flexible. They seemed so paranoid every time we went on a weekend trip, or in Ferrara at time, as if they doubt our judgement or their own ability to keep us under control.
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Olivia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable Journey

Going to Peru for a month is by far one of my best experiences. I enjoyed myself on this trip. At first, it was very difficult because it was a new environment and everyone spoke to me only in Spanish: the teachers, my host family, everyone. I always wanted to become fluent in Spanish, so this was helpful for me to have this immersion. My favorite experience was when I went to Machu Picchu. The scenery was amazing and the town was even better. My friends and I had pizza at a restaurant, then we listened to some music in the main plaza. Another thing that I loved was my host family. They were so kind and spent a lot of time with me and my roommate. I genuinely feel that my Spanish has improved living in Peru. I recommend this program to anyone who is interested in expanding their horizons and learning the Spanish language.

What would you improve about this program?
The activities were planned very close together. It was a little overwhelming.