AIFS: Study Abroad

AIFS Study Abroad


AIFS is a leading provider of study abroad programs. Since 1964, more than 1.5 million students have traveled abroad with AIFS. Comprehensive program fees make it convenient for students to study abroad and experience all that the world has to offer.

With over half a century in the industry, AIFS has the resources and experience to provide what students want and need in a study abroad program combined with the institutional strength to safeguard their welfare around the globe. Unlike many other study abroad programs or independent study options, AIFS program fees are guaranteed in U.S. dollars.

AIFS offers a wide range of unique programs in Asia, Australia, Europe, South Africa and the Americas. AIFS campuses typically offer courses in English and/or in foreign languages from beginner to advanced levels, so you don’t even need to know a foreign language to have the opportunity to study abroad.


College Division
1 High Ridge Park
Stamford, CT 06905
United States


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Yes, I recommend this program

I always knew that I wanted to study abroad and after much research and comparisons I came to the conclusion that the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) is who I wanted to study abroad with in Budapest, Hungary. This was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Everything went very smoothly when applying and getting accepted into the program. Pre-departure instructions were clear and someone was always readily available to answer questions that I had about the Visa process. Once I arrived to Hungary, the onsite AIFS staff member (Deniz) was so incredibly helpful to acclimating us to our new apartment and culture and provided us with her email and phone number so that we knew she was always readily available should we need her. The apartment provided through the AIFS program was so nice, comfortable and centrally located. When speaking with students from other programs, there were many complaints about how they had to stay in dorms or far from campus. I'm very grateful that with AIFS we had a spacious and perfectly located apartment. The classes offered by AIFS through Corvinus University were very educational and all in English. AIFS also requires that you take a Hungarian Language class which helps tremendously when getting accustomed to Hungary and communicating with locals. AIFS coordinated multiple excursions (to places like the countryside of Hungary and Vienna, Austria) these were included in the cost of the program and were so fun and interesting! Across all areas of my experience studying abroad, AIFS made sure that I always had the information I needed and that my experiences would be memorable.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Since Budapest is so centrally located, take advantage of the ability to travel to other countries as much as possible. Plane tickets from Budapest to other places are generally pretty affordable if you plan ahead!
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Yes, I recommend this program

My semester in Prague provided me with so many unforgettable experiences and has inspired more travel to even further places. The staff at AIFS Prague helped make my transition to living in a foreign country easy by setting up local excursions and activities to expand my comfort in my new home. During this program, I was able to complete 20 credit hours towards my graduation and I had the opportunity to travel to 8 countries throughout Europe at an affordable price due to the central location. The dorms were comfortable, in a great location and I loved spending my nights studying in the basement pub. I wish I could go back to my days walking the cobblestone streets of Old Town and enjoying a Trdelník after class. With the fairytale location, affordable pubs, endless travel opportunities and friendships that will last a lifetime, you can't go wrong with choosing this program.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have enjoyed more opportunities meet locals and students through the program.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I spent four months in Costa Rica. It was AMAZING, as everyone days about their study abroad experience. I am so glad that I went for an entire semester because I got to know the country so much more than if I had stayed for less time. And there were still more places that I want to visit one day. Costa Rica is the most biodiverse countries in the world, so if you appreciate plant life and the outdoors, Costa Rica would be a great place for you to go. It also has so many different biomes: beach, forest, and mountains. They are all so gorgeous! Costa Rica has beaches on two sides. One is the facing the Pacific Ocean and one is facing the Atlantic. THe two coasts have two different vibes, which is cool It is fairly easy and cheap to get around the country by bus. I stayed in San Jose, which is the capital and is a city. There is sooo much to do in San Jose. We would leave to visit other places in Costa Rica most weekends, but if we did stay in San Jose, we could always find something entertaining to do. Ticos and Ticas (people who are from Costa Rica) are super kind and caring people. The food is buenisimo. Gallo pinto is their signature dish, which is beans and rice. We literally had gallo pinto practically every morning for breakfast. I loved it, so did my roommates. I miss it so much now. But if you hate beans, that might be a bit of a struggle for you. I was there during the dry season, which was perfect. So you should definitely take that into consideration when you're thinking about what time of the year you will be there. Because apparently it rains kind of non-stop during the wet season. Ideally, you would know some amount of spanish, but I wouldn't say it's required in order to study abroad there. A lot of people know english.
I chose to go through AIFS because they offered everything I wanted during my study abroad experience: the classes I needed (spanish, biology, and sociology), immersion (going to a local university and living in a homestay), and volunteer opportunities. AIFS also had excursions that were included that were a lot of fun, and took a trip to Nicaragua (at an additional cost). The final cost to study abroad through AIFS included tuition, housing, and 2 meals every day, and a support staff in the country. I really think that with all those things included, I probably paid less studying abroad in Costa Rica for the semester than I would've spent staying home (when I consider tuition, rent, groceries, gas money, all that). I REALLY appreicated the AIFS staff that was there in the country with us. They are native Costa Ricans, so they were completely knowledgeable about the country and any questions we had from what are the areas that are safe for us to go to where can I get my eyebrows done. Insurance was also included, Luckily I never had to take advantage of that, but I know that other students did. And the AIFS staff was there with them, in the hospital, being a mom away from home. It was very comforting to have them there. We had the freedom to be independent when we wanted and the opportunity to reach out for support when we needed. It's the best of both worlds. I'm extremely glad I chose AIFS. They really care about their students and providing the best and safest study abroad experience that they can.

What would you improve about this program?
Cheaper flight tickets and that make sense. I paid double what someone else leaving from Houston would have paid, and the flight went to Dallas, then Costa Rica even though there were flights with AIFS students that left from Houston and went straight to Costa Rica.
Yes, I recommend this program

I went to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador during the 2018 JanTerm. We had field trips to various sites including kicker rock where we swam with sharks and sea turtles. The class was excellent because we learned about the history, biodiversity, and issues of the Galapagos islands. My favorite part was housing because my host mom was very welcoming. The meals were amazing and getting to know her family was heartwarming. This program allowed to be open-minded and get to know other cultures without being afraid. I learned to be independent and comfortable while traveling to another country. The most exciting part of this program was snorkeling for the first time in the Galapagos and swimming with sea lions, sea turtles, sharks, and other diversity in the ocean.
If you are planning on participating on this JanTerm go with all your positivity and be open to try new things. Do not be afraid to talk to your host family because your host family is there to help you.

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Yes, I recommend this program

While living in Budapest, I met some of the most genuine people. This experience has taught me more about life and the value of personal connections than anything I have experienced before. Everyone should go visit Budapest if you do not have the opportunity to live there, because it's one of the most down to earth big cities you can imagine. The culture and history is too important to pass up. It's a great city for young adults because the cost of living is very affordable and the young adult demographic in the city makes for a homey feeling. The living accommodations through AIFS were superb. It was very comforting to live with three American female students attending Corvinus University as well. Also, cooking and making food wasn't an issue for us roommates because the food in Hungary is to die for! We ate out all the time because it was also so cheap and affordable!


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Alumni Interviews

Alumni interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Tessa Kirk

I am a junior at California Lutheran University! I am studying both psychology and Spanish at my university and studied abroad the spring semester of my sophomore year!

Tessa Kirk

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program for the language acquisition aspect. I was advised that Granada would be one of the better locations to learn the Spanish language. I honestly didn’t know much about the location before I left and I wish I would have cause I would have wanted to go there even more so. I always knew i wanted to go to Spain, but didn’t know where, but I am completely happy with my decision to go to Granada because I have a piece of my heart forever over there!

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My school and program were both extremely helpful! My school’s study abroad office helps you with all the steps along the way and handle your financial aid for you so you don’t have to be the middle man. My program was very available before I left and also on location. Our resident directors on site were super helpful and answered and questions we had! They even took us to the doctor if we got sick! All I did on my own was plan my trips when I was in Granada the rest was planned by AIFS!

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I wish I would have known more about the culture and history in Granada and Spain in general. I knew nothing about Spain or the different places and I wish I would have done more research about the country before I left. I would recommend for people going overseas to be open minded about different cultures and try different foods!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average week in this program is class Monday through Thursday and Friday classes once a month. Living in a homestay, you will enjoy every meal with your josh family, so you will go back for each meal!

Breakfast is usually before you head to school, then you’ll come home around 2:30-3:00pm for lunch, then dinner can be anywhere from 8-10pm! There is siesta from 3-5pm, so during that time stores are closed, so it is best to nap, go out for tapas, go for a hike or do homework during that time!

After dinner, is a good time or tapas as well and hangout with friends! You will have quite a bit of free time so make the best of it and see what the city has to offer!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

A few of my fears were traveling outside of the country and being so far away from my family. I had never left the country before heading to Spain so that was something unknown and unfamiliar to me. As i traveled more and more, I became less and less nervous about traveling and I felt more comfortable traveling.

I am also extremely close with my family, so I was nervous about being away from them for so long. I realized as time went on that being away from my family was a good thing. I appreciated them a lot more when I got back and didn’t feel as dependent on them anymore.

What happens if i miss home?

Do not stay home and wallow! It will not make you miss home less; in fact, it’ll do the opposite. I recommend going out with your friends, talk out your homesickness with them and enjoy some time doing something you won’t be able to do when you go home, because you are going to miss this new place even more when you get home.

Is reverse culture shock really a thing? Yes, yes and yes! I suffered from reverse culture shock when I got back and it helped to have my friends from abroad to talk to and reminisce with them.

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Staff Interviews

Staff interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

What position do you hold at AIFS and what has been your career path?

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Hestea: I am the AIFS RD at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. I studied at Stellenbosch University and received both a BA (Hons) degree in Psychology and a Post Graduate diploma in Education. I taught English at an all-girls school in Stellenbosch for five years.

In addition, I had my own bookshop called Anchorage Book Gallery in Stellenbosch. I then turned my attention toward sports traveling to Europe from 1992 – 1995 every few months playing field hockey. In January of 2003 I started my position at AIFS.

Do you think study abroad will change?

Hestea: I think that there will be a fundamental shift in thinking how study abroad realizes its educational potential. It may to find other ways of internationalizing the way Americans think which does not necessary means the mobilization of them across the waters. There has been huge growth in Service Providers, but it would be interesting to see where the participation lies.

To me, the student who currently studies abroad is the same student who studied abroad 20 years ago. We just have more of “’them”’ in the States! The fundamental shift will have to be to go back to the basics of what it means to interact across difference and how this achieves learning outcome.

Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?

Hestea: I am passionate about the complexity of our cultures. Living in my country the last 40 years with 11 official languages, where at any given time, almost everybody can speak 2 or 3 languages fluently makes me passionate about the possibility in successful interactions across huge dimensions and differences. I want my students to experience this…but they must be willing to work hard and bring themselves to the table.

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of the AIFS team.

Hestea: A proud moment was when Alumni from years 2003 – 2011 organized an event in New York where we could all celebrate the amazing shared experiences they were all part of during their times with AIFS in South Africa. This initiative showed me how they really felt about being here.

What does your home-country's culture value that is taught in your program?

Hestea: Because of our complex political history and all the mistakes we have made through generations and generations, the people of our country have a unique way of dealing with our past. Setting up a Truth and Reconciliation committee is one such example where a value of “’take responsibility for your actions”; has been engrained in our nation. American Study abroad students are often silent when they are challenged to always take responsibility for their actions, to always own their actions and to move forward and grow. They are challenged until they actually own it, even if it takes months.

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