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IES Abroad


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 should have the opportunity to go abroad—especially in a fun, safe, and superior academic and cultural environment.

From our headquarters in Chicago to our 35 locations and the staff on-site, we all work toward the common goal of providing mind-bending, life-changing, opinion-altering study abroad opportunities.

We’re not ashamed to admit we’re a little bit obsessed with study abroad.


33 W. Monroe St.
Suite 2300
Chicage, IL 60603-5405
United States


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For some people, studying abroad means partying and drinking all the time. For me, it was all about the experience of living in a different culture and learning a different language! I got to meet the most welcoming and warm people, eat the most butter-y and "delicieuse" food I have ever had, and see some of the oldest artifacts in the world. I truly cherished my time abroad, including the challenging moments that only made me a more rounded person. Traveling in Europe is extremely easy compared to the United States, allowing for lots of travel if that's something you want to do during your time abroad. I enjoyed my times in other countries but also time in my own city! Also, living in a host family is a great way to meet and get to know a local family to immerse yourself in the local culture while making new relationships!

How can this program be improved?
Larger facility for students. Better communication about strikes.
Yes, I recommend this program
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The IES program in Vienna created the best semester abroad I could've ever asked for. I felt welcomed right away by the staff who were extremely attentive and very experienced in helping in various situations. They really created a home base for their students. One of my favorite parts were the incredible trips they organized, such as the ski trip on a glacier in the Austrian Alps (many people learned to ski for the first time on this trip), a journey through the beautiful mountain villages in the west up to Prague, and a weekend trip to the Wachau Valley for hiking and wine tasting. Pretty much all students lived in apartments. I lived in the 5th district of the city with an easy 20 minute commute to school (Vienna’s public transportation system is so easy to master). Classes take place in an old palace in the city center between the Opera house and St. Stephen’s cathedral. For many classes I got to tour museums during class period and really learn hands-on about art, history, architecture and psychology. The central location of the school enabled me to explore the ins-and-outs of Vienna on a daily basis after or between classes. The IES program helps make things happen for its students. They make known events from the film festival at the Rathaus to how to join a gym or sports club team. They help create incredible experiences, such as providing discounted tickets to attend an infamous Vienna ball and dancing lessons to prepare. I was able to see the dress rehearsal for a world premiere at the State opera house. We were able to have a big Thanksgiving dinner in a traditional countryside tavern. And they helped people get involved with locals through setting up local German language buddies and helping students get internships. The program at IES Vienna creates a community and enables its students to explore and soak up every possible second of the most incredible semester imaginable. I would give anything to be back in Vienna right now.

How can this program be improved?
This program could be improved by encouraging its students further to get involved with the locals in Vienna and around other parts of Austria. It does a great job helping students immerse into the culture, but not necessarily by interacting with locals. They help set up German language buddy pairs, but I wish I had realized the importance of putting myself out there with the people in Vienna while I was there.
Yes, I recommend this program

Through IES, I was able to get so much out of my abroad experience! The Center's incredibly dedicated staff helped me to partake in an internship with a local business for class credit, as well as take an outside course at l'Università Bocconi. This allowed me to really immerse myself in the Italian community, in addition to the courses I took at IES which brought us out on field studies around the area. Outside of school, I was placed in an apartment located directly in front of il Duomo, putting me at the very heart of the city with every mode of public transportation and shopping indulgence at my disposal! I would highly recommend this program, not only for all the city of Milan has to offer, but mainly for all the ways IES allows you to take advantage of it.

How can this program be improved?
This program is fantastic and has little to improve, if anything, I would have only preferred to have received the class time table before arrival to have been able to better organize my own schedule ahead of time.
Yes, I recommend this program
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I attended IES Rome’s Fall program and had a fantastic time. I had the opportunity to enrich myself with an engaging and relevant academic curriculum and also participate in numerous cultural experiences. These experiences include those orchestrated by the IES program as well as things I did independently with both the American and Italian friends I met through the program. Housing was provided in the cost, as well as spacious, regularly cleaned, and well located. The classes were admittedly less rigorous than those I was accustomed to at my US university, but were nevertheless enjoyable, interesting, and took advantage of the program’s location to incorporate excursions to relevant sites around Rome and Italy. For example, I studied Classical Roman architecture in the ruins of the Roman Forum and Renaissance art at Florence’s Uffizi, both with program classes. They were certainly a highlight of the academics. The professors and other staff were almost entirely Italians with very good English skills. Language was never a problem in class. Furthermore, they were universally approachable and friendly. Professors would recommend the best restaurants and bars to us. The language instruction was also of high quality. I went in knowing next to no Italian, but I left with a decent level of proficiency. The program housed many of its students, including those of us in my apartment, with local Italian students. This was probably the best part of the program. In making friends with my Italian roommate, I was exposed to a host of cultural events, attitudes, and quirks that would be otherwise inaccessible. Additionally, it really helped my Italian skills. Today, when I keep in touch with my old roommate, we can speak in Italian. This was radically different than being a tourist or a simple visitor. With this program, I was able to live in Italy like a true Italian!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Growing up in Northern Minnesota, I became accustomed to the dark and frigid winters. In the land of Ice hockey (sorry Canada), I instead picked up cross country skis and took to the trails hidden underneath the towering pines and oaks. This quiet winter wonderland of Scandinavian Americans is my home. So, when the option of studying abroad came to the table, naturally, I was interested in the Scandinavian destinations: Sweden, Norway, Denmark. Additionally, I had to study at a location where I would attend a university—one in which biology courses were offered. A list of viable programs was generated, and at the top of the list was a program in Sweden. Conveniently, it met all of my requirements; I could have stopped the search right there, but something drew me to scroll down the whole list. There were plenty of decent options, but nothing caught my attention or piqued my curiosity until I got to the very bottom of the list. It was a program in Christchurch, New Zealand of all places: Christchurch Direct Enrollment – University of Canterbury. As I sat there pondering the land of hobbitses (i.e. “Middle-earth”) this curiosity transformed into a deep desire to explore this isolated land. I dropped all commitments to study in Scandinavia and refocused my attention to this program. Now, after successfully taking part in this program, I can confidently say that was one of the best decisions I’ve made—here’s why.
First, this program centers around direct enrollment at the University of Canterbury (UC). This is great for a couple reasons; for one, it is easier for students to take classes that will count towards one’s major(s)—in my case, I needed to take a microbiology course and I had no problem “finding” one that was offered at UC. On that note, classes at UC are on par with the difficulty of academics I experienced in the United States—of course, someone might find the classes easier or harder than what one has experienced in the US, but on average I would say most students will feel adequately prepared. That being said, the academic format is slightly different than what one might be used to in the US. Primarily, in most classes, there are few assessments of your learning (i.e. “homework”) throughout the semester; in most classes your final grade will heavily depend on your grade on a Final paper or exam. That being said, the grading scale is different than what I was used to in the US. For example, the grade range of an “A-” corresponds to 80–84.9%. The second reason direct enrollment at UC is great is that it allows you to connect with other students that are not in your program—kiwi students, international students, fellow biology nerds. These connections can happen in class, and they can also happen through the myriad clubs and organizations offered at UC. For example, those who are keen on trekking through the beautiful landscapes New Zealand has to offer should join the Canterbury University Tramping Club (CUTC), as outdoor gear can be rented by members, and the club takes frequent trips together. In short, studying at a UC keeps students “on track” for their respective major(s), and it allows for optimal social opportunities.
Another reason this program is a good choice is that the IES program has great staff at all levels. Before I even left for New Zealand there was work to be done—paperwork, preregistering for classes, etc.—the IES staff who were responsible for answering my last-minute questions and concerns before I left for NZ were always timely and helpful (thank you Maria!) I felt confident that there were a group of people who wanted me to successfully study abroad. When I got to New Zealand, I was not surprised that the staff were equally as helpful and genuine. The program director, Candice—who was just starting as the new director—was very kind and easy to talk to. I never had the need to discuss anything serious with her, but if the need had come up, I would have felt completely comfortable discussing it with her. Moreover, she was a great person to chat with, and you could tell she actually cared and was interested in each student’s story. Upon talking with her and sharing my pre-dental plans, she was even able to set up a meet and greet with a local dentist! There was also a “right-hand man” of sorts, Fraser, who occasionally helped Candice. Fraser was a fun, witty, guy, who was quite adept at quick quips and sarcasm; but more than that he was also very helpful—and he took wonderful photos/videos of the group. I am not entirely sure he is a permanent staff member, but if he is around if you end up in this program, make sure to get to know him too.
In terms of the housing options offered, there were not a lot of options. In the semester I went, all of the students in my program were housed in the Ilam Apartments—a large block of apartments, or “flats”, that house most of the international students at UC. This was nice because it was easier to meet other international students, but conversely, not many kiwi students lived in these apartments—so the only avenues for meeting kiwi people were through your classes or the clubs/organizations. I think it would be interesting to live in a homestay housing situation, to really integrate into kiwi lifestyle via a willing family. That being said, I was happy with my flatting situation, as my flat mates and I got along nicely, and we often went into town together. However, even though I had a good flat, I know some other students in my program didn’t have the same situation. So, it can be a bit of gamble as to whether your flat situation is pleasant or not. Despite this uncertainty, even if your flat situation is not what you hoped for, this is hardly a dead end—as mentioned earlier, there are other venues for meeting people, and extreme flat annoyances can often be resolved with the help of IES or the University of Canterbury. I should also mention that these flats are arraigned with five single bedrooms, two bathrooms each with a shower, and one shared living room and kitchen. For a student such as myself, who was used to sharing a small room with several roommates, I found the accommodations relatively spacious.
Last—and arguably most Important—is what New Zealand had to offer. When I was considering New Zealand, I honestly didn’t really know too much about the country—I knew Lord of the Rings was filmed and produced there, I knew they were crazy about rugby, and I thought I heard there were a lot of sheep there. Well, I wasn’t wrong, but this initial assessment barely scraped the surface of what New Zealand is. First of all, New Zealand is chock-full of amazing scenery. From snow-capped mountains, to dense forests, to massive fjords, there is something spectacular everywhere you turn. For those who love the outdoors, look no further than New Zealand to satisfy your need for fresh air and natural beauty. Then there are the people of New Zealand—kiwis; they are generally very laidback and kind people. This laidback attitude and lifestyle was somewhat familiar to me, as there is a similar way of life in Minnesota. But more than that, it made it easier to be an international student learning about the country/culture, as the kiwis were never rude or confrontational in our interactions. I can recall one instance in which I was riding the bus into the city center with a couple other IES students; we were at the front of the bus and were chatting about our experience abroad—it was clear we were international students studying abroad—and when the bus stopped at its destination, the bus driver turned around and said, “I think it’s so great that you guys are here studying in New Zealand, good for you guys,” or something along those lines. We were all pleasantly surprised and began chatting with the driver. I think this interaction summarizes the people of New Zealand quite well. I should also note that English is one of the main languages in New Zealand—along with te reo Māori, and New Zealand Sign Language—so if English is your first language you will feel comfortable communicating with people and understanding most written instructions.
Overall, this program was a fantastic experience; the country is beautiful, people friendly, and the opportunities for amazing memories—practically endless; this Northern boy is certainly happy he went South.

How can this program be improved?
Overall this program is great. The one thing that could be improved however, is having more options for housing. For example, I think it would be great if homestays were offered.
Yes, I recommend this program


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