Image from Pexels

Image from Pexels

As an avid reader of articles titled something along the lines of “What I would tell my college self”, I can tell you what 99.9% of them agree on, and that’s travel while you can. It will never be as easy for you to travel the world as it is right now, so you might as well take advantage of that! Here’s a list of five amazing study abroad organizations that offer super cool programs for college students. Check them out!

For the unconventional: The School for Field Studies

From Caribbean coral reefs and tropical rainforests, to African savannas and Himalayan mountains, the School for Field Studies offers study abroad opportunities in virtually all ecosystems. If you are interested in environmental conservation, this program is right for you. SFS has 8 amazing programs all around the world where students learn about environmental conservation through field-based learning and research. SFS works in different communities where they identify environmental issues and develop sustainable solutions and long-term research plans to solve these issues. Students gain “hands-on field experience, practical and transferable research skills, and cross-cultural awareness”.

Open to all majors, SFS offers both semester and summer programs in 11 different countries. SFS has stations in Peru, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bhutan, Kenya, Tanzania, Australia, New Zealand, Turks and Caicos Islands, Costa Rica, and my beautiful country Panama. Students learn about ecological problems and work on solutions in both aquatic and terrestrial environments while gaining school credit. Depending on your school, you can gain up to 18 credits. SFS reviews applications in a rolling basis, and while most semester programs are around the $20,000 mark, financial aid is available for qualifying students. In my opinion, this is definitely the coolest and most unconventional study abroad experience on the list.

Semester at Sea

Semester at Sea, managed by the University of Virginia, is a multiple country study abroad program for students of all majors that emphasizes engagement with the global community and hands-on experience. Students from up to 300 different colleges in the United States and around the world participate each term. School credit is available. Living in a ship for a semester definitely sounds like a remarkable experience, especially when considering the different regions each voyage explores.

Upcoming voyages include Europe and Scandinavia (Summer 2014), Atlantic Exploration (England, Poland, Ghana, Senegal, Brazil, and Cuba, to mention a few countries, during Fall 2014), Around the World (from the United States to Asia, Africa and Europe during Spring 2015), and Northern Europe and Africa (Summer 2015). Since hands-on experience is emphasized, in each country you will be able to participate in field labs, field programs, and other activities. In-country excursions are also organized where students visit historical and cultural sites, and natural and manmade wonders, and participate in service visits, community explorations, and exchanges with students in local universities. The program fee is about $30,000, and financial aid and scholarships are available.

For the budget-friendly: USAC (University Studies Abroad Consortium)

With programs in 26 countries and over 40 cities, USAC definitely offers something for everybody. USAC offers classes in English, as well as language immersion opportunities. Programs vary in length from a couple weeks to a full academic year, and these are all offered at competitive prices. Field trips, volunteer opportunities, and internships are also organized by USAC in different countries. According to their website, USAC has only changed program fees a couple times in their 30 year history, since they are committed to offering a high quality experience at an affordable price.

USAC also values visiting non-traditional locations, and this is why they offer programs, for example, in Bilbao and not Madrid (Spain) and in Torino and not Florence (Italy). For example, the program in Prague, Czech Republic will cost you only a little over $8000 for a full semester (including housing). A summer in Santiago, Chile has a price of a little less than $5000. A full academic year in Lüneburg, Germany is almost $14,000.


AMIDEAST is an American non-profit organization that specializes in international education and training in the Middle East and North Africa. Besides promoting U.S Study to local students, they also offer study abroad opportunities for American students. AMIDEAST offers summer, semester, and academic year courses in Egypt, Morocco, Oman, Tunisia, and Jordan. The programs in Egypt have been suspended for the 2014-2015 academic year, but wouldn’t it be cool to study Civil Engineering or Egyptology in Cairo?

Besides being located in exotic places, these programs are very affordable. If you are interested in community service, the program in Tunisia has a service component as well. A course in Peace and Conflict Resolution in London and Amman is also offered. Intensive Arabic courses are offered in Jordan, Morocco, and Oman. French courses are offered in Morocco.

For student travel: EF College Break:

EF College Break runs trips for college student travelers to Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and The Americas. Summer trips, spring break trips, New Year’s trips, as well as fall and winter trips, are all organized by EF College Break. Trips last from 8 to 35 days. The price includes round trip flights, travel between cities, hotels and hostels, sightseeing tours, tour director, (some) meals, entrance to special attractions, and 24-hour emergency phone service.

Trips are affordable, and there’s a monthly payment plan. Each trip has several departure rates, and they vary in price from $2,300 to $5,600, according to the length of the trip. According to their website, half of the student travelers sign up alone, so you don’t have to worry about joining by yourself.

EF (Education First) also has an Explore America program for tours inside of the United States, varying in length from a weekend to 10 days.

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the author

Clarissa Gallardo is a sophomore at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Originally from Panama City, Panama (only place in the world where you can see the sun rise in the Pacific and set on the Atlantic!), she is majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Mathematics and Ballet. A member of the Honors Program and dancer at heart, you can find her studying at the library, scrolling through her Tumblr feed , dancing, or reading. Clarissa has a really bad case of wanderlust and is obsessed with white chocolate mochas, The Big Bang Theory, and Doctor Reid from Criminal Minds. You can follow her on Twitter and on Tumblr.

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