What are you looking for in a study abroad experience? I had no idea going through the process but I can tell you for sure what IES offered that I did not expect.
1. For one, the academics. IES classes were incredibly small and intimate, my Spanish class was only 6 people! In the past this would have freaked me out but our teacher made us beyond comfortable and we all knew each other so well that we all weren't afraid or embarrassed to try even if we failed! The other classes were equally engaging - I actually loved going to class everyday and the teachers were so conscious to not give us busy work because they knew we were there to learn about the culture! I came out of the program feeling like I learned so much and yet had time to enjoy as well!!
2. The people! I was expecting IES Abroad staff and professors to be like all professors, they are "there for you" but they also have their own lives. THIS WAS NOT THE CASE AT ALL! IES professors AND staff would give us hugs, give us emotional support, and ultimately just root for our success. They would give us treats on American holidays they knew we might miss and teach us about their holidays! They would hug us in the morning and ask about our weekends! They would help us find a doctor or a cell phone or just give us advice about what to do in the city! This staff was the most incredible group of people they could have compiled, they 100% exceeded expectations!
3. The host families! I guess these count as people too but they deserve their own category! There were only 3 people coming into our program that were not staying with a host and by the end there was only 1! The families that IES found were long standing, had been with the program for longer than they could remember, were incredibly sweet and even more knowledgable about the city we were all so excited to explore! My family gave me love, advice, a hard time (as all good families do), and just made me feel so at home coming in!
I could not recommend this program more! I really did not know what to expect coming into study abroad - I was mostly basing my ideas off of my sister's experience - but I could not have been more impressed with the organization and care that IES committed to their students! These are people and this was a time I will never forget!!