CIEE

Program Reviews

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Jaleesa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The classes were difficult but I know I am walking away with a lot more knowledge not only from the university, but from all over South Africa in general. Of course studying at UCT was the most irritating thing because nobody wants to study and do school work when you are in such a beautiful place like this! There is always something to do here in Cape town, the list is never ending (good thing you have a lot of time to fit it all in!). What really made it the best time was the CIEE staff. They supported us from day one and always had the best advice on what to eat, where to go, and were extremely helpful in providing all of the information we need to stay safe in South Africa. I would definitely recommend this program for everyone who is looking for adventures of all sorts!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
One thing I would change is getting to really know the CIEE staff sooner because they are so amazing and helpful, even if you just want to talk about life.
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Julia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved my time in Cape Town with CIEE! I spent a semester studying at UCT. The classes were challenging but I learned a lot. UCT is one of the best ranked universities in Africa, and is known worldwide. The CIEE staff in Cape Town were so helpful and kind, they supported us from beginning to end and I made some great connections with them. Additionally, the staff were extremely helpful in providing all of the information we need to stay safe in South Africa. Cape Town is beautiful and had so much to do. You have a city, mountains and the beach all in one! I came to South Africa alone, without knowing anyone here, and left with lifelong friends who were also on this program. I would definitely recommend this program for someone who is looking to get out of their comfort zone!

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Alfred
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Arriving in Cape Town for CIEE's "Fall Block I Open Campus," I was unsure what to expect. I felt ready to experience a new part of the continent (my family is from Kenya and I lived there for 10 years, but was born in the US) in a new light. After staying in an AirBnB the first night, I arrived in Rondebosch from an Uber across from the CIEE building. The first day there was great. Meeting everyone, from the staff to the other students excited me for the next 6 weeks. The first week was a learning curve with orientation and getting to know the 4 other roommates in my apartment. There were only 5 guys out of 18 in the program which is one thing I can say I was surprised about - but I suppose guys are less likely to do study abroad programs.

I took two classes, "Poverty, Development, & Human Rights," with the amazing Professor Nompilo, and, "Intercultural Communication and Leadership," with Akisha. Both courses were excellent, and all very discussion based. The only true busy weeks were week 3 and 5-6 as our midterm essays and finals commenced. Other than that, they were a good balance of work and experiential learning as we went out on excursions nearly every Thursday or Friday. It so happened that my classes were scheduled the same day, which was good and bad. The con was that it made for very long days with each class being three hours a piece with an hour or so in between, and the pro being the fact since classes were only on Monday and Wednesday, I had the ability to plan full day trips, events, and experiences without having to worry about coming back to CIEE on time for class. The other class offered, "Atlantic Crossings," I heard was excellent as well, with many saying it was one of the best classes they had ever taken during their time in college.

During our amazing study tour we embarked on to Muizenberg, Cape Point (Cape of Good Hope), Boulder Beach (African Penguins). Besides that, we also had numerous excursions to places such as Khayelitsha, Zeitz MOCAA, and others, and of course - we made sure to go out and have fun on our own. With the South African Rand trading in favor of the dollar (about 15.5 - 16 Rand = 1 USD during our time there), we were able to truly capitalize on all Cape Town had to offer. From Long Street to Sea Point, we visited many clubs, bars, and restaurants, with one of our staples being Stones in Observatory due to its laid back conversational nature. Personally, I was able to go skydiving with Skydive Cape Town (about $300 USD with the video/pictures - beyond worth it), visit the historic Robben Island, hike up Table Mountain via Skeleton Gorge (if you truly want to experience the mountain, this is the way - great day trip, but hard hike if you don't usually hike. There are easier routes like Platteklip) and Lion's Head, spend many days at the beach at Camp's Bay or Clifton, venture to Stellenbosch for an amazing full-day wine tour, and so much more. I did all of this and much more during six weeks, actually staying under budget.

Overall, I would do CIEE again if I could. It was so worth it. I made lifelong friends of whom I am already planning to meet up with early next year, was able to reconnect with myself in a way I didn't think I would, and was able to learn so much about a country that has been so successful but faced so much hardship. Even though I only did one block as I had to return to Seattle, I must say 6 weeks is just enough to fully immerse yourself in this amazing city and country. If you want to learn more about my personal experience, we sure to check out my 5 part VLOG series I made during my time there on my Youtube channel, Alfred Mugho - the link is below!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would try to meet more locals earlier in the program. One of my goals was to meet entrepreneurs while I was there, and even though I did meet a few, I feel like I should have ventured out more into UCT to meet just people my age, from different places in South Africa.
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Erik
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I always knew I wanted to study abroad. The problem was, how could I pick just one location? Then I heard about CIEE's Design Your Semester Program. With this Open Campus program, I able to switch to three different locations during one semester. For me, six weeks in a city is the perfect amount of time to study in a new city. CIEE also has weekend study tours to nearby cities. The tours always provide a well rounded cultural experience. I would highly recommend the Open Campus program if you want to see and experience more when abroad. They offer many cities around the world, but mainly across Europe. I picked Madrid, Berlin, and London for my semester. Each city, in its own special way, had so much to offer. I would highly recommend the open campus program if you can't decide where you want to study abroad.

What would you improve about this program?
The course schedule includes some Friday classes. I would recommend a more condenses course schedule from Monday to Thursday only.
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Claire
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved everything about my abroad experience with ALA Barcelona. This program does a fantastic job of balancing academic challenge with fun cultural activities. I had an amazing semester spent exploring Barcelona and traveling on weekends, and I improved my Spanish a lot. I think the biggest advantage that ALA offers is being able to take classes at the University of Barcelona. Unlike most Americans that study in Barcelona, I and the rest of ALA students interacted much more with locals. The level of linguistic and cultural emersion is much higher for this program compared to most others, and CIEE provides constant personal support to ensure that their students succeed academically. I think ALA students have the opportunity to really get to know Barcelona beyond a surface/ tourist-y level. In terms of logistics, ALA provides three housing options (residencia dorm among local students, apartment with other Americans, or homestay). The vast majority of students love their living situation, and each option has different advantages. I personally stayed in the residencia, and loved the central city location/ proximity to UB. Looking back, I would not change anything about my time in Barcelona!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Do NOT spend all of your time in Barcelona socializing with Americans. Branch out and build friendships with Spaniards! I am still in contact with some of my friends I met through UB.
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Amelia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The opportunities and memories I made in the CIEE program in Sevilla are going to stay with me forever. I made amazing friends, traveled to many locations, and even had an awesome internship with a very cool boss that I still talk to. One part of this program that I found really unique was the Morocco trip. There was concern that the trip was going to be cancelled due to high winds making the ferry ride impossible. With a stroke of luck and very bad sea sickness (totally worth it though), we finally arrived there. I am going to be honest here, I started doubting the trip before we went because it was such a daunting experience that I did not feel ready for. After the trip, I did not want to leave. CIEE had the perfect itinerary and we got to know a variety of people who lived there. I would not trade that experience for anything. To this day, it is one of the most eye opening experiences I have ever had. It brings a whole new life to what my mind thought Morocco was due to movies and other media. Morocco has such a beautiful culture and life to it that I wish I could share with others. It is one of those, you have to see to believe. If you are debating on CIEE, I say just go for it. I loved my program and it is worth it to take those leaps. If studying abroad taught me anything, it is that nothing is as it seems. Life is meant for you to push yourself into become more than you could have ever imagined.

What would you improve about this program?
I guess, I would warn students that they will need time to adjust to their homestays because not only are these strangers to you, but it is an entirely new culture that you will be living in. It will take time to adjust, but it will happen and be an amazing experience.
Oliver
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved everything about my study abroad experience. I came in as a Spanish major wanting to make friends and become fluent and did exactly that. CIEE placed me with a welcoming Catalan family who had a brother my age I am close with to this day. Between my homestay experience, and classes with the University of Barcelona and CIEE, I had so many opportunities to learn and I am proud to say I am fluent today. I also made so many friends and not just with the students, but professors as well! The CIEE program had many opportunities for us to hang out with the students and professors alike, my favorite of which being a weekend excursion to Collioure. Overall, I had the best time in Barcelona and miss the city, friends and program so much!! I would highly recommend this experience to anyone hoping to improve their Spanish or simply immerse themselves in a young and vibrant city!

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Isabel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Hi! I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here in Berlin with CIEE Open Campus. I have enjoyed my classes thus far, especially my Post War Monuments and Memorials Class. Not only did this class challenge my thinking, helped me gain an understanding, touched my emotions, but also provided me with a worldly insight that I didn't think was possible. As for the institute, all of the staff from the RA's to the Faculty/Student Life Team to the Security they have always been great at helping me (and always with a smile). I think it is hard for me because I do wish this program was a bit bigger, but at the same time I like the small community of it. As for Berlin as a whole, this city is one that is so rich in history and also has a melting pot of cultures. There is never not something to explore and experience.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't be afraid to venture down a street you haven't been down. There is always something new and exciting in this city.
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Matthew
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

During my study abroad, I'd eat street crawfish for lunch and juicy steak in high-rise buildings for dinner--at the same price. Shanghai's fast modernization has resulted in massive economic wealth and consumption, allowing denizens to live like kings, queens, and jesters all at once. Walking along the street, you'd pass the massive construction of a hundred-story building right after a row of run-down shacks. A local friend of mine commented that the polarization of Shanghai's urban/rural feeling was nothing new--but to me, it seemed the most alluring part of the city. I once ate street snake and frog-on-stick during a food tour, then later that week wandered into a secret hideaway up-scale speakeasy behind a Coca-Cola vending machine. Being able to experience life in all of its many forms is what made my experience truly educational, complimenting my studies of 'China in a Global Context' all the more. If you're looking for adventurous thrills and a thought-provoking representation of modern China, look no further than Shanghai.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
For my Chinese class, we had to produce a music video on our favorite location in the city. I am not a great singer--let alone in another language--nor am I an extrovert amongst strangers. I saw this as an opportunity to embrace my status as 'lao-wai' (foreigner) and push myself out of my comfort zone. Headed by my determination, our group chose our favorite location as the street we lived on--where we'd shopped at local stores, learned how to use the subway, sung late-night karaoke, and ordered all of our dumplings. Filming day was my most nerve-wracking moment. I had written the song (poorly), and directed my teammates to lip-sync in our favorite various spots. When it came to be my turn, the lyrics became a jumbled mess in my head, but I persisted, knowing that even though all the passers-by thought I was an odd lao-wai, at least I was trying to learn. Today, I still remember the lyrics of our song, and it holds a special place for me to remember all of my amazing times along that street. And someone will have to do a lot of convincing before I show them the video.
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Ashlyn
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This was my first time traveling outside of the United States, and I think I got really lucky having this experience be my first. I was in Monteverde, Costa Rica, for 6 weeks, and I loved being so secluded in the mountains and Cloud Forest. Also, those 6 weeks were filled with grand experiences, like traveling to Manuel Antonio and hiking through the Cloud Forest, but they were also filled with little special moments on campus, such as eating every meal together and weekly dance lessons in the rec room. The staff was extremely supportive, and any questions or concerns I had were answered and addressed. My roommates became some of my best friends, and many of us students have made commitments to visit each other in the States once we return! I also felt spoiled from having delicious meals 3 times a day with fresh, organic ingredients. Additionally, I made long-lasting connections and gathered valuable knowledge through working on the campus farm, helping the kitchen staff clean after meals, meeting local coffee producers and soap makers, and eating pizza at Zelmi’s! This study abroad experience has felt more than just a study abroad — I truly felt integrated into the community. Though I was sad to leave, I know I can still maintain these connections after my travels.

What would you improve about this program?
The only criticism I have for this program is that the academic structure was not as clear, cohesive, and organized as I would have liked. My class called, “Plants & People,” felt like a poor use of my time due to the contents and objectives being unclear and inefficient lecture time. However, I still succeeded in the class, but it did not meet the expectations I had. I wish we spent more time on actual Costa Rican/indigenous accounts of plant use. I wish it was more anthropological/ethnographical rather than the first 3 weeks that were biological.