ISA (International Studies Abroad)

Program Reviews

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Nicole
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

IES Abroad Milan

For four months, I studied and lived in Milan, Italy. I arrived in January, and adapted to the Milanese way of life and embraced the culture entirely. I have entirely fell in love with Milan, grown significantly more comfortable in my Italian language skills, and met so many wonderful people. Most weeks, I traveled on the weekends to other European nations; during the week, I made sure to visit a new museum or place of cultural significance. I am constantly learning and am in awe of something new each day. As an Italian major, this experience has allowed me to finally be immersed in the subject that I have been studying for years. Although I have been fortunate to study Italian prior to my time as a student at Penn State University, I believe that being put in real-life situations has challenged me to develop my Italian skills significantly. At the doctor's office or the hair salon, I surprised myself finding the correct Italian words, when under pressure to describe an ailment or hair color shade. Being in an Italian-speaking environment has allowed me to utilize my textbook education towards real-world application.

Pros
  • So much culture
  • Nightlife is incredible
  • Beautiful and affordable
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Berkeley
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Exceptional Academics and Excursions

Going abroad with ISA was one of the best decisions of my life, even though it tragically got cut short by COVID. I went abroad in Spring of 2020 and I had the most amazing 6 weeks of my life. I loved the university, Le Catho, where I studied French language and culture. My French skills grew exponentially in that short period of time. I chose to live in a homestay which was really special because I developed a beautiful relationship with my host mother. I also loved the excursions they took us on, such as Normandy and Mont Michel! The on-site staff were also amazing people, allowing for a seamless transition from arrival to daily life. Getting sent home from COVID was very jarring, and hard for both myself and ISA. They were able to do the best they could in the circumstances and I was appreciative of their support during those hard times.

Pros
  • Academics
  • Housing
  • Excursions
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Samantha
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

International Studies Abroad (ISA) was a life saver! I was able to gain cultural perspective of a lifetime.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my study abroad program was canceled. Despite this, the Gilman Scholarship offered options to use our award for virtual learning opportunities. I decided to look for programs through International Studies Abroad (ISA), which had many virtual learning choices. I was excited to find a program that aligned with my major in San Jose, Costa Rica that focused on health psychology.

Through virtual learning, I engaged with a diverse team from different nations including my Costa Rican professor which broadened my general understanding of health psychology, social context, influence, health, and illness from a cultural perspective. Ultimately, what I valued most about this experience was learning the differences in cultures between two countries. As a future psychologist, it is important to recognize the differences in cultures since it plays in important roles in influencing human behavior. I believe that studying abroad is crucial for education because it allows you to gain a cultural perspective that you can apply to your professional journey, no matter your field. I especially appreciate that the ISA, despite COVID-19, managed to help me find virtual learning options because they recognize the importance of studying abroad, even though a computer screen. Although, I would prefer to study in Costa Rica in person, it was certainly a cultural exchange and a great opportunity to meet individual from different nations who are interested in the same issues I am.

Pros
  • ALTERNATIVE STUDY ABROAD PROGRAMS
  • INTERNATIONALIZED COURSE CURRICULUMS
  • ACCESS FOR EVERYONE
Cons
  • Lack of Socialization.
  • Technology Issues
  • No Hands-On Learning
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Ruth
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

A Summer to Remember

My month in Costa Rica was a trip to remember! I loved my homestay family and the friends I made with other students in my program. My Spanish skills improved by leaps and bounds. My Spanish class supported my learning in fun and engaging ways, and living with a host family gave my the opportunity to practice my skills in the real world. I loved the opportunity to travel around the country on the weekends. I got to spend time on both coasts and make a trip to Arenal Valcano. I can't wait for my next opportunity to travel to Costa Rica!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I ate fruits I'd never even heard of! Like pejibaye and maracuyá.
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Ryan
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience!

Seoul is such a unique city filled with so many interesting and different neighborhoods. I particularly enjoyed Hongdae and Itaewon because of the nightlife and food. Hongdae was full of fashion and young college students which I enjoyed because I lived in a quieter and more residential neighborhood. I loved Itaewon because it reminded me of home. The area is filled with ex-pats, particularly Americans because it is where the US military base is located. Because of this, Itaewon has tons of American restaurants and bars. My favorite restaurant there was called Route 66 and it had $1 pizza slices and trivia on Thursday nights. I really enjoyed being able to go someplace that was filled with other Americans whenever I was missing home. Overall, South Korea has something to offer for everyone such as bustling city life, surfing on the coast, and hiking into the clouds. I definitely recommend studying abroad here!

What was your funniest moment?
When my friends and I were traveling through a fish market in Busan, an eel jumped out of its tank and landed on the floor right in front of my friend which caused us to scream and the local fishermen to laugh!
Photo of Caitlin Boylan
Caitlin
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Limerick Is A Wonderful Place

I absolutely adored my time in Limerick. The university is a wonderful, fun, gorgeous place. The accommodation is clean and very comfortable and integrates you with Irish students - which is such a huge positive! IFSA-Butler provides great support before, during, and even after the program. I actually went back to Ireland a few years later and needed to leave my luggage in Dublin for a day and they let me use their office! The trips they took us on were fun and educational and a great opportunity to meet others.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would figure out how to transfer to UL and finish my college degree there!
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Kaitlin
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Take fabulous classes, buy a bicycle, live in a homestay, eat till you drop:

Studying abroad with a provider like ISA is great for students who need that little extra boost of support to get abroad. Their staff is lovely and kind and want to make you feel like you're at home and comfortable.

COURSES: Take classes that are fun and exciting that you wouldn't be able to get at your home campus. I studied Cultural Psychology, Gardens of Love, Italian Language, and Wine Appreciation. Yes, all of them transferred back to my home campus at BHSU with a little creativity!

EXPLORE: Purchasing a bicycle was the best way for me to experience as much of Florence as I could. I was able to seek out the roads less traveled on the outskirts of the city center. This is also an important hobby to me back home, so it was an important way for me to feel like I could enjoy my hobbies, get outside of the city center, and work off all that food I was eating.

HOMESTAYS: Although you will make life-long friends with the other American students, try to avoid spending all your time with other study abroad students in your program. It is important to step outside your comfort zone and meet local friends. They will be the ones to help you grow in your language abilities, experience true cultural activities, and enjoy some of the best local eats. Homestays are the perfect way to set yourself up for success. Some of my best memories were at my home with my Italian family.

SAFETY: Florence is a superb city for safety and wellness as a first-time independent traveler. Just be sure to watch your alcohol intake and be responsible. Many of the new students want to enjoy drinking legally for the first time, and it was a little scary to see some of the situations intoxicated students put themselves in. It's always important to be alert and cognizant. Also, remember that as visitors, we are ambassadors of our home countries. Represent yourself and your country well.

FOOD: The food scene is absolutely incredible. I ate and learned to cook some of the best food of my life in Florence. Regional ingredients based on history and geography of the people is such an important aspect to understanding culture. Parmesan, pesto, chianti, fresh olive oil, prosciutto, truffles, balsamic... are you kidding me?!?!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
This was my first chance to eat organ meats like tongue, livers, hearts, etc.. Although I was eager to try it, at first it made my stomach a little queasy, but I kept trying it again and again until I developed a comfort to it. Now, I find that organ meat can be some of the most flavorful and delicious parts of an animal. Don't be afraid to dive in headfirst to something that might make you feel a little squeamish, and then don't be afraid to try and try again if at first you don't think you like it. Food is such an important way of connecting with people and willingness to try cultural dishes is an important gesture to your hosts.
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Erica
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Living Among the Gods and Goddesses

My semester in Athens, Greece was the best time of my life. It is a beautiful country that has everything you could imagine, from the snow covered mountains, to the sandy beaches, to the bustling city, and ancient ruins around every corner. My favorite thing to learn about in history class was always the Greek gods and goddesses, so visiting their ancient temples was like an out of world experience for me. My ISA advisors were some of the kindest people I know and made a real effort to expose the students to their culture. The food was incredible and I could probably eat gyros for the rest of my life. My classes was a great mix of American and Greek students, where we could often debate about our ways of life. The thing I will value the most is the lifelong friendships that I have made. I still talk to my friends often and meeting them gives me a new excuse to travel more often to see them.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
A huge part of Athens is its ancient history and a large part of the ISA/ACG cultural activities is visiting the ancient ruins of the gods and goddesses. Therefore, I would recommend reading up on some of the gods and goddesses as well as some ancient mythology before leaving. Although I remembered some of the stories growing up, I think it would have been even more meaningful to visit these beautiful sites if I had reviewed their stories ahead of the semester.
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Madison
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Sevilla, the Sweet Spot of Spain!

Studying abroad ignited my hunger and passion for traveling, and it is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life! While studying in Seville, Spain for a semester with ISA I made new friends that I connected with, traveled with, and am still in contact with. Studying abroad for a semester allowed me to travel around Europe and to Africa for a total of 9 countries! The classes that I took at the University of Seville, a historic and enchanting building, were fun and challenging. I had the opportunity to practice my Spanish in my classes, with my host mom, with ISA staff, at the store, at restaurants, and with local friends I made. My host mom was amazing and a fantastic cook! My roommate was very friendly, and we each had our own room. I always felt safe, comfortable, and welcome in my house though at times the temperature was a bit different than I would have preferred (air/heating is not used as frequently to save energy). I was very happy with my choice to study in Seville because it was big enough to have lots of options for restaurants, activities, and modes of transportation, but I did not feel that it was unsafe or I was overwhelmed by the size at all. It was also very sunny in Seville, something I couldn't get enough of! I was also very satisfied with my choice to study abroad with ISA! They were very helpful and offered insightful information throughout all stages of the program. The staff on site were incredibly personable and made the excursions a lot of fun! I would definitely consider traveling with them again!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If I did studied abroad again, I would choose another program that was 90 days so that I could obtain a VISA and have more travel flexibility. I think it would be beneficial to have a VISA so that friends and family can visit before or after the program so that it is less stressful to coordinate and you don't have to miss out on opportunities within the program. Also, I wish that I would have saved more money before I went.
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Elisabeth
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

The Best Experience Possible

I would not change anything about my abroad experience. ISA was such an all inclusive program in which I felt fully immersed and had plenty of freedom while also having continuous support and guidance. I learned so much through the included excursions and cultural experiences offered frequently and when deciding to travel and explore on my own, was given plenty of recommendations and advice upon asking. Not to mention, Madrid is the most beautiful, incredible city ever full of so much diversity.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't waste time doing things you could do at home ie. napping or eating fast food. Explore everywhere possible, try new food, talk to strangers etc!