IES Abroad European Union

Video and Photos

Freiburg Clock Tower
Freiburg Clock Tower
Our Northern European trip to Stockholm
Our Northern European trip to Stockholm
Some of my programmates and I attended a German soccer match
Some of my programmates and I attended a German soccer match
Prague was one of my favorite places on the entire program. It was the perfect blend of beautiful scenery and still was a large city. Also, the shopping was amazing because of the currency difference!
Studying at Seepark
Preparing to hike the tallest waterfall in Germany!


Taught in English, the IES Abroad European Union Program gives you the chance to study Politics, Economics, Business, and International Relations like you never have before.

The program features an integrative seminar that incorporates approximately 21 days of field study to travel to numerous countries inside and outside of the EU. As you visit each new country, you develop your understanding of the European Union, its history, and its institutions.

Europe will be your classroom. Imagine visiting the European Parliament and discussing current social and political issues with EU officials, or meeting with leaders of multinational corporations to learn about international trade. Welcome to study abroad!


IES Abroad Scholarships
IES Abroad Scholarships and Financial Aid

As far as we're concerned, financial limitations shouldn't prevent you from studying abroad with us. That's why we offer more than $5 million in scholarships and aid.

$500 - $5,000

Questions & Answers


based on 58 reviews
  • Academics 8.2
  • Support 8.9
  • Fun 8.6
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 1 - 15 of 58
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Yes, I recommend this program

22 Cities & 12 Countries!

As I boarded the plane for Munich, I was anxious to discover what awaited me. I had quite a few concerns and reservations, but upon arrival I realized all of my concerns were anticipated by the program administration. I lived in an apartment complex with five German students, who became some of my closest friends in Freiburg. The program gave us many opportunities to befriend fellow IES students and German students, alike. We spent the semester eating $1 gelato, traveling between EU countries, and exploring all Freiburg has to offer. I overcame my fear of public speaking and formed really strong connections with many of my professors over the course of the semester. I had a wonderful experience, one filled with both personal and academic accomplishments. I highly recommend studying in Freiburg!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Budget wisely! You'll blow through your money quickly unless you take the time to sort out your finances at the start of the program.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Learning through travel and new experiences!

I was searching for a study abroad experience that would allow me to study what I am interested in, travel to multiple places, and have experiences that I could not plan/afford as a college student. The IES European Union program offered me all of these opportunities. We traveled to seven countries during 22 days of the program, where we attended talks specialized to our academic interests. The program also organized city tours for us, and we stayed in hotels close to the middle of the cities.

In Freiburg, I lived in a seven person suite, and the rest of my suitemates were German. This offered me opportunities to immerse myself in German culture, and also allowed me more exposure to the language.

The additional IES EU field trips allowed me to visit countries and environments I would not have had access to otherwise. The two most popular field trips they offered my semester were a tour of castles in Germany, and a beautiful hike in Switzerland. They always arranged a tour and transportation, and so it was a stress-free and highly enjoyable experience each time.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and matched all the aspects I was looking for in a study abroad program!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
They tell you the countries and cities you will visit ahead of time, so do your research before and figure out all the places you want to see there! Makes it a lot more fun and a lot less stressful than doing it close to the travel dates.
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Yes, I recommend this program

New type of learning

I am truly grateful for my experience with IES European Union. After years of lecture-based learning, I was thrilled to finally experience something new. My program incorporated travel to several European Union countries, which exposed the students to a wide array of languages and cultures. I was able to live with German roommates, which provided me with such an immersive experience to the German lifestyle. The program taught me, and other students alike, to be independent, adaptable, knowledgable and culturally aware both through travel, and living independently in a new city. Learning occurred outside the classroom in the most spectacular ways, and I am so happy I was able to receive this experience.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Fun Experience!

The EU program is an amazing experience for those interested in politics, international relations, econ, and business. All the classes I took were engaging and the professors truly cared about the students. Traveling to so many EU member states really enhances the classroom learning experience because we are able to have meetings with government officials and other key players that have built their careers on European politics. It is also such a great cost for the amount of travel included in the program. However, it is important to note that while those trips are really great, they are academic in nature, so there is not a whole lot of free time to do touristy things. Additionally, Freiburg is a beautiful small city that is great to come back home to after the week-long trips. Due to the traveling, I did not get as immersed in the Freiburg culture as I would've liked, but I lived with local university students which was a good experience

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Yes, I recommend this program

Great program for a lot of travel and those interested in politics !

The EU program was excellent !

I learned so much about International and specifically European Politics and Government structures, that I had no idea about before. We also got an in depth understanding of the European Union and how it relates to the United States as well. '

I loved living in Freiburg. I am so happy with my decision to study abroad there. The people, the nature and landscapes, the opportunities to have fun, and places to eat were more then I could have ever asked for.

I also loved all the traveling that we did in our program. I got to see so many different countries and learn about each country from actual locals and politicians and professors. You can't beat getting that knowledge, it is something I would never be able to learn had I visited these countries without the IES EU program. I love traveling , but learning in depth about what actually is happening in that particular country makes it much more memorable. IES EU was a great balance of engaging academics, and still gave us enough freedom to travel and have fun.

I made videos/vlogs throughout my entire study abroad experience. Check them out at the IES EU youtube channel or on the student blog pages on their website. I talk about my first week, traveling to germany, orientation, and a lot of info on our excursions.

What would you improve about this program?
I think this program was excellent for myself, but I think a lot of students were disappointed with the immersion aspect. I think more students would like to for IES to help students get more engaged with the local culture and offer more advanced German classes for some students. However, I think that our housing and our free time should enough time for students to build relationships with local students and venture out on their own.
Yes, I recommend this program

Excellent travel intensive program!

I would highly recommend the IES Abroad European Union program, especially for students interested in politics and travel. Although this program is based in Freiburg, Germany, it is unique from other programs because it includes three separate excursions incorporated into the class throughout the term. These excursions consist of trips to many important European Union institutions, and include a rigorous schedule of academic meetings, balanced with time to explore. Locations for my semester included Berlin, Prague, Brussels, Luxembourg, Sofia, Budapest and Athens. For the third excursion, you are allowed to choose between 3 offered locations for you trip, so you can customize the program to fit your interests.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this program was the wide selection of course options. There were courses from topics ranging from politics to law to economics, and all the classes tended to be grounded current events.

Freiburg is also a perfect town in which to study. It has a vibrant student life, due to a local university, in addition to proximity to Switzerland and France, which provide great weekend trips. It has a bit of a city feel, but is quite small and has a lot of charm. It also has lots of local hiking and winter sport opportunities!

However, I would say that this program is geared more toward politics (and economics) majors, rather than toward people trying to gain an advanced handle on German. Although German classes are offered at several different levels, most people from my semester came to the program with little to no German experience and were less focused on the language learning aspect. I came into the program with 3 semesters of German and was very serious about building my proficiency while there, although did not feel ready to sign up for the IES Freiburg language program, which offers classes in German and involves enrolling in the local university. While I found many opportunities to practice German with locals, it was easy for other people in my program to insulate themselves from the German locals and students, and just interact with other people in the program.

Participating in this program really helped build my independence and my confidence in being able to travel alone! I felt confident navigating European trains and public transportation in many different cities.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have enjoyed feeling more a part of the German community in Freiburg and the local university, because I didn't feel like I had enough interaction with non-Americans.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Outstanding Academics

This program is really unique and truly inspiring. It offered amazing academics that really reinforced why I love what I am studying and what I am doing while matched it very well with course-related excursions that took us to new countries to explore and learn about the EU and domestic politics. The time spent abroad both in Germany and traveling was incredible and really felt balanced thanks to the planning of the administration. It also really helps that you are traveling with professors as academic advisors so they can really help you reflect on everything you have learned.

What would you improve about this program?
Help students immerse more with locals, it really only happens when students go out and do it unlike with other programs where you are taking courses with locals and so on with this program, you are a bit more excluded.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Learning while traveling

If you are looking to study internationally while also fulfilling your major requirements for International Politics, Business, or Econ; or just looking to travel a lot while learning, this is the program for you! I cannot say enough positive things about my experience with this program. For starters I was able to learn so much about the European Union not only in the classroom, but by traveling to different countries and hearing how the EU affects them as a country or even individually. That was probably the most important part of the program, because I don't think it would have been enough to just have sat in a classroom to learn about this material. It was also a great way to experience the different cultures and not just that of your host country. I would like to also say that the staff is absolutely phenomenal. They really care about your experience and do everything they can to make sure you are getting the most out of the program. The teachers are also there for the students! All of the classes I took were really interesting subjects and the professors really brought them to life. Plus the classroom setting is incredibly small so it leaves time for one-on-one help if you need it. This program really helped me to step out of my comfort zone and become more independent! The only issue I had during my entire experience was the fact that the program was a little isolated from Freiburg University. If you were looking to make friends with the locals it was difficult to do, unless you lived in a flat (which I didn't). So for the most part we hung out with each other. This also made it difficult to really submerge yourself in the culture and learn the language. Most Germans in this area were incredibly excited to have the ability to practice their English with someone, so sometimes you didn't get the chance to improve your German. Anyways, I would 100% recommend this program and would do it again if given the chance.

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Yes, I recommend this program

My time abroad in Freiburg

In particular, Freiburg is a beautiful place; in the winter there is snow, then comes rain, and in spring time the hills are green and the sun breaks through with warmth. Freiburg is a student town, the German culture is different; it's welcoming, a breath of fresh air, and eye opening. My time abroad, I always felt safe. I also had the opportunity to learn German, which is a goal that I have always wanted to fulfill. I got to participate in the Freiburg Marathon during April with a few of my friends as well as a few faculty members from the program. It was a lot of fun being able to run a 14km through Freiburg. This experience was great; having the people cheer me on as I ran through the city was welcoming, being a part of a team with my friends and professors, and challenging myself by running 14km without stopping and finally crossing that finish line was exhilarating. Furthermore, I got to participate in another run; Run For Europe. This was my favorite run because I got to run a 5K while running between the borders of Briesach Am Rhein, Baden- Wurttemberg, Germany and Ile de Rhin, France with my friends was amazing! I got to run with others who support a united Europe.
After having visited: Amsterdam, Madrid, Barcelona, Greece, Vatican City, Rome, Nice, Paris, Brussels, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Frankfurt, Basel, Grindelwald, Feldberg, and Freiburg. You learn that there is so much to see, to experience, and that life is a constant journey in which one expands their perspective of the world. I learned that there is so much more to learn, to experience, to do, and to witness. You only get one life and it's your job to live it to the fullest. Since having studied abroad I now have a greater appreciation for the world , cultures, the people that make up each country, and the country's history.
My study abroad experience has helped me grow personally, academically, and as well as professionally. Personally, I have grown to be more confident, independent, assertive, and ambitious through the IES European Union Abroad Program. I am from Oceanside, California and my university is about forty-five minutes from my hometown. I am use to having my family close by and having studied abroad in Freiburg, Germany was a learning process for me. I remember when I first arrived in Germany; at first I was nervous having to say goodbye to my mom because I have always had my support system close by. It was through this marvelous program that I was able to grow to be more confident and ambitious. In my leadership course: Leading Across Political Cultures, I learned to be ambitious and assertive through taking on leadership roles in my course; in our third leadership workshop I volunteered to be a leader in which I was required to lead a group of my fellow students to the destination of our workshop all on my own. In addition for a water conference that we had for this course, I volunteered to be one of the three moderators that had the task of coordinating, organizing, and running the water conference.
Furthermore, this Spring semester I challenged myself to try new things and to push myself to do better in my courses. This particular semester abroad was at times demanding at first but as time went on I got use to the work load. The first week of classes was the intensive phase; in which we had one week to learn the basic history of the European Union as well as an intro to German before we had a trip to Berlin and Prague. The education system for studying abroad was a bit different, in my opinion there is more independence to work on your own, in addition spending time and taking classes with the same seventy students was a nice change. I enjoyed connecting and getting to know these people My home university has five thousand seven hundred and eleven undergraduate students; it was also convenient to have all of my courses in one building, as well as a library, a lounge room, and study rooms within the same building.
In addition to having grown personally and academically, I was able to grow professionally as well. Being a Political Science major and having taken courses that focus on the American government system, I wanted to learn more about the politics of the European Union. I enjoyed getting the chance to learn about European Integration and European Foreign Security and Policy Analysis. It is one aspect to learn about the countries that are in the European Union yet it is another aspect to be able to visit these countries, to apply the knowledge that you learn and to see firsthand the important issues and their impacts that they have on these countries. I loved learning about the Copenhagen criteria, integration, enlargement, the migration crisis, the high youth unemployment in some countries, and as well as other topics about the European Union and the member states.
After having visited the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the European Council. I had the goal of learning more about European politics and expanding my mind on international issues and U.S. relations with Europe. I accomplished this goal this spring semester. I want to attend law school after I complete my bachelors in Political Science and become a civil rights attorney. Having acquired more knowledge about the European Union I have become more aware of the importance to stay on top of current international issues. As a political science it is vital to be versatile and aware of domestic and international politics and the impact that issues and events have on a global scale.
I am thankful and fortunate that I was able to learn about the European Union, to have visited: Czech Republic, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Nederland's, Switzerland, Belgium, and Germany and during my stay in these countries see firsthand the issues that these countries face. Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime experience and it should be encouraged for all students to do. I am forever grateful for studying abroad and I have grown immensely because of it. It is due to studying abroad in Germany that I have a greater appreciation for the world, for politics, issues that affect the U.S. don't just affect us but they have global effects as well. Moreover, the most important aspect that I took with me from studying abroad is that we are just one speck on this earth; for there is so much more out in the world than we think there is. There is so much to learn and to share with others. Freiburg will always be a place I call home and if I didn't study abroad I would not have learned more, grown more, visited countries, cities, and met wonderful people. If you would like to learn more about the politics of the European Union, visit the institutions of the European Union, then I highly recommend studying abroad with IES through their European Union Program in Freiburg, Germany.

What would you improve about this program?
I think the program can be improved by maybe adding a few new countries or one new country to the program based on current events in European Politics. Overall, the program is wonderful and I learned a lot from studying abroad through the IES Abroad European Union Freiburg Program!
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Yes, I recommend this program

An Unforgettable Semester in Freiburg

I had an amazing experience with the IES Abroad EU program, and there honestly isn't much I can say that was bad about my semester. Not only did I love living in the beautiful, sunny, and student-filled city of Freiburg, but I also learned so much about the EU that I never would have back home at my own university. The course excursions and extensive program travel were a highlight of my semester, and the trips were well-planned, offering us the invaluable opportunity to travel across Europe and visit many cities, while getting a unique political, historical, and cultural perspective on them that I likely wouldn't have gotten by visiting on my own. Both IES Abroad in general and the IES staff at our center in Freiburg were so helpful and organized and really made an effort to make all students feel comfortable and engaged while abroad.

Freiburg is an absolutely wonderful place to study abroad; it is a charming university city bustling with bikers (Freiburg is very eco-friendly!) and there are tons of things to do in one’s free time. Not only are there tons of restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bakeries to enjoy if you want to enjoy the wonders of German food, but there are also opportunities for shopping, enjoying local parks and the river Dreisdam, or venturing off on a short train ride into the neighboring Black Forest, where you can bike, hike, or ski! The EU program has so much travel incorporated into the semester, often to large European capitals, so having a home base in Freiburg, where it’s not overrun with tourists, was really great.

I lived in a student apartment complex with five German students and one international student. We each had our own rooms and shared two bathrooms, a kitchen, and living area. This living situation was nice because I had a lot of independence and my own space, but I still was able to engage with German students, practice my speaking, and learn about their lifestyles, studies, and interests.

On the topic of costs, which is often an important factor to studying abroad for many people, I would say that doing this program was really affordable, largely because the cost of living in Freiburg is fairly low. There are many options of where to buy food (stores and the local Münstermarkt), and groceries, toiletries and other living necessities were very inexpensive and much less than what you would pay for the same thing in the US (for instance, I could find a jar of jam for 1 Euro or a loaf of good German bread for 2 Euros). Although I’m vegetarian, I found that there were still many options for food, both eating out and buying food at the store. Freiburg also has tons of restaurants, pubs, cafes, and even a pretty good (and very inexpensive) student cafeteria, so there are lots of options for students at very reasonable prices. I won’t lie, the abundance of bakeries and cafes in Freiburg made me quickly addicted to the large array of delicious fresh German bread, pretzels, and pastries.

Although the course workload was definitely vigorous (probably more than other average abroad programs), I learned so much and gained a greater perspective on the EU, world events, and various European cultures. I might also briefly note is that this program is definitely focused on politics, international relations, and economics, and less so on intensive German-language development, understandably. However, being someone who really wanted to practice my German a lot, as I’ve been studying it for many years, I will say that I was a bit disappointed that most students on the program had little to no German language background, so I could not have those types of language engagements with them. Nonetheless, I still had many opportunities to practice German out in public and at home with my flatmates. I would recommend, however, for anyone thinking about studying abroad - to take a semester of German beforehand or have learned a little bit. It makes getting around and having simple interactions with locals much easier!

Overall, my experience in Freiburg and with the EU program was one that I truly will not forget. From visiting many beautiful and historic cities across the EU, to enjoying the Biergartens in Freiburg, to spontaneously deciding with two other students to venture on a 60km bike trip from Freiburg to France and back, the experiences I had were really irreplaceable. Without any hesitation, I would recommend this program to any student interested in the subject matter or who wants to experience life in an active, but charming German university city!

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Yes, I recommend this program


I really enjoyed this program due to the classes that was offered, the travel opportunities, and the city of Freiburg itself. The classes are taught by qualified and interesting professors and I learned a lot about the inner workings and relationships of the European Union. The best part of the program is all the travel that is included. We went to Paris, Luxembourg, Brussels, Prague, Berlin, Strasbourg, and three further countries (I went to Madrid, Barcelona, and Rome) with the program, and got to speak with interesting politicians, academics, and NGO workers such as the Czech Foreign Minister and an MEP from Poland. Freiburg itself is a beautiful city with amazing people, located in the Black Forest and only a 30 minute train or bus ride to France and Switzerland. Overall, I learned a lot and got to see a lot of Europe.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Experiencing Europe with IES

During the Spring 2017 semester, I participated in the IES Abroad European Union program based in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany! I really loved my experience, it was invaluable to say the least. I will look back fondly on my time in Europe and the lessons I learned for the rest of my life. I would recommend the program to any student, especially those with an interest in Political Science, International Relations, or Economics.

My living situation was very pleasant. I lived in a modern, student apartment building called Berliner Allee in a flat with 5 flatmates. There was one other IES student living there; otherwise, all of the other flatmates are German students between ages 24-27. Some IES students use this as an opportunity to practice their German, even though I didn't personally! My flat was remarkably clean because of our "putzplan," or cleaning schedule, which is quite common for German living situations. I wasn't too far away from the IES center where we took our classes; it was about a 15 minute commute if that. Though depending on which neighborhood in Freiburg you end up in, the cleanliness of your flat, the number of flatmates, and the distance from the IES center can vary quite a bit.

As far as academics are concerned, if you are looking for an easy-breezy semester abroad, I would not recommend this program. We took all of our classes at the IES EU center. Obviously like any institution, there are easier and harder teachers and professors, but the required 5-class course load means you will definitely be working throughout the week. I wouldn't say it's as hard as a lot of American colleges and universities, but it is certainly no walk in the park. Finally, since the program includes quite a bit of travel, I definitely did my fair share of work on planes and trains. As we are currently in a period where the European Union is in flux, the topic courses I took, EU and the Muslim World, EU-US Relations, and Migration, were very current and interesting.

For me, travel was far-and-away (pun intended) the best aspect of the program. I can guarantee by the end of the program, you will feel like you did not spend enough time in Freiburg. First, there are 21 days of built in travel included in the program. If you plan no additional trips, you will still get to visit 7-9 countries with your classmates. Second, the program schedule includes two "Wanderlust Weekends." These are weeks with no Friday classes to allow you to get an early start on a fun travel weekend. With mine, I went to London, England and Nice, France; both were lovely. Finally, there is a healthy-sized Spring Break to allow for further travel. In total, I visited 14 countries in Europe and North Africa throughout the semester.

One of the most important things I learned on the program is that the more you travel, the more you realize how much more there is to see. Even though I was lucky enough to see some amazing cities, there were many that I wish I had WAY more time in, and even more that I wanted to see but didn't have the time. You really get an idea of how enormous the world is on this program, which is a lesson worth learning.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Fantastic semester!

I had an incredible experience with the IES EU Program. My professors were engaging and personable. They encouraged us to have thoughtful discussions and tailored lessons based on our interests. Classes rarely seemed boring or dull. By far the best part of the program was being able to attend meetings on the various trips that we took. This program is so unique in that it takes students to so many countries with no additional cost. My favorite meetings were visiting the Russian embassy in Berlin and meeting with the MEP of the political party Jobbik in Budapest. Our trips were structured well so that we had lots of free time to explore on our own, as well. Freiburg is picturesque and fun in itself. On the weekends we would take quick train into the black forest and go hiking or skiing. There is so much to do, see, and explore. I had a phenomenal time abroad!

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Yes, I recommend this program

My EU Experience

This program is an extremely unique opportunity for two reasons. The first is that it is so focused on a single topic: the European Union's history and structure. The second is that the cross-continent field trips such as to the European Parliament in Strasbourg or to the rest of the EU government in Brussels are built into your classes. For an Economics and Political Science double major, this was a great opportunity that I am confident will reflect well on me in my professional life. IES is very well organized and will really take good care of you. I never felt like I was "stuck" or mixed up in a situation that couldn't be solved, which is a reasonable worry for someone going on study abroad. Being based in Germany, some people might have worries if they don't speak German. I will say as someone who speaks German that I had an advantage, but the overwhelming majority of people in my program had zero German experience and did just fine. All in all, this is a great program that you won't find a duplicate for and is very well-run.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Best Experience!

Choosing the IES European Union Program was the best decision that I have ever made. Because the program included travel, I was able to visit 9 different countries across Europe at no extra cost, including places like Bucharest and Budapest. Cities that I would never really think of visiting on my own. More than that, studying abroad gave me a sense of independence and confidence that I would never have been able to achieve otherwise. Having to figure out how to navigate so new places forced me to rely more on myself and pushed me out of my comfort zone. However, I still had support and help from the IES center staff when I needed it. They did a perfect job of making us feel at home and cared for, while also giving us space to challenge ourselves. While there was not as much cultural immersion as I expected (it was difficult given all the travel and being a program full of Americans), I would not change anything because I had so many great experiences and met so many great people in my program that I still talk to today.


52 F / 9 F
73 F / 14 F
79 F / 28 F
59 F / 10 F
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( DUS )

Germany has attracted travelers for many years, with their abundance of festivals. Everywhere you go in Germany, you will see the confluence of nature and cityscapes; as well as, modern and traditional architecture. To get a true taste of Germany, you will need to experience all of these, from the bustling cities to the black forest, there is a lot to explore.


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IES Abroad offers 140 programs worldwide for college students. We are a highly charged force of study abroad enthusiasts. Every day we have the privilege of witnessing how study abroad changes our students’ lives. We also believe that every student...