Go Away (or Abroad): Start Your Own Adventure!

Here is a list of programs that take Youths around the world for one reason or another. Language immersion, community service, study abroad etc. – I try to add a variety of interests to this growing database. Remember everyone has a preference and their own reasons for travel. Now, go away!

These two are some of my favorite National Geographic’s travel blog articles.
They are good reads for anyone that is beginning a journey.

Learn about Traveling & Home and Doing Real Good Abroad

(+) – indicates it’s one of The Big Three – Largely considered the best abroad organizations.

§ – indicates it’s a semester school for high schoolers

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ARCC – Adventures (Rolling) Cross Country

– In its past, ARCC specialized in bikes trips, hence the “Rolling” in its name. However now, the “R” has been omitted, and the entity has become a much more international company. ARCC has three options for summer travel: Multisport, Language, and Community Service. Additionally, it offers Gap years and custom programs that you can design to your liking. This company boasts great staff and even better experiences for emerging travellers. Take your pick from ARCC’s great trips! (Destinations Include: Morocco, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Uganda, Greece …) *Smaller location list for Gap programs (Destinations vary)

Link: http://www.adventurescrosscountry.com/

For some more information and my opinion, read this post: Expat-terns’ ARCC Blog Post

*Some may consider these trips in essence “voluntourism” – be advised; exercise judgement!

(+) AFS – American Field Service/ or Another Fat Student (During an AFS trip, you usually gain a few pounds!)

– Originally an ambulance service after WWII, AFS has become an international volunteer network that works to bring the world together in cross-cultural understanding. With the AFS internal support system and alumni community, you will never be alone before, during, and after your experience. The institution thrives off volunteer support. AFS specializes in semester and year abroad programs across the globe, but has summer intensive studies as well. (Destinations Include: Too Many to List!) *Smaller location list for Summer Programs (Destinations Include: Ghana, Chile, Japan, Ireland, Thailand …)

Link: http://www.afsusa.org/

*This link is specifically for the USA AFS chapter

§ Alzar School – We Build Leaders

– A lesser known semester school for sophomores and juniors, the Alzar School is located in remote Idaho and specializes in teaching students unique pillars regarding leadership, autonomy, and rugged transcendentalism. Semesters are small, which allow individualized attention and guidance in a variety of classes offered by reputable and experienced faculty. One of its most appealing features is its cultural exchange initiative that takes its participants to the southern Chilean lake district to experience the outdoors and further develop their guiding principles. Homestays are the typical accommodation down south, but fluency in Spanish is not a requirement. Interested in self-empowerment, adventure sports in South America, and taking control of your education? Why not look into the Alzar school! (Destinations Include: the American West and Chile)

Link: http://alzarschool.org (other programs are offered as well)

*Alzar means ‘to rise’ in Spanish.

If you are interested in other semester schools, follow this link to a previous blog post: Desperately Seeking Semester School

§ Chewonki Semester School – Do Something Different

– What can I say about Chewonki? Located on the idiosyncratic, mysterious Maine coast, Chewonki is an organization that hopes to foster lasting experience and strengthen one’s connection to the natural world. During the fall and spring, it functions as a semester school for juniors with a focus on environmentalism, field research, and sustainable living. Classes are a holistic and experiential experience led by an eclectic team of educators from diverse backgrounds bringing a variety of skills to the campus. Students stay in cabins during their time on the neck when not camping during week long wilderness trips or on solo expeditions into the woods. Chewonki’s most intriguing feature is its organic, horse powered farm. Students and faculty alike work together to produce what arrives at the tables in the Wallace (mess hall) while simultaneously learning about the current agricultural conditions and practices in the US. Do something different your junior year – take the leap, return to nature. (Destinations Include: the Maine Coast)

Link: http://www.chewonki.org/mcs/ (other programs are offered as well)

If you are interested in other semester schools, follow this link to a previous blog post: Desperately Seeking Semester School

CIEE – Council on International Educational Exchange

– A very well known and reputable organization, CIEE has abroad on the mind. Established after World War II promoting peaceful foreign relations, this institution has grown into one powerhouse for work and study abroad. This council offers high school, college, and Gap years (as well as semesters) overseas, international development & career training, internships, summer exchange/custom programs, and volunteering. To top it all off, CIEE even has some scholarships and an English academy for non-American students. Personally, what I love about CIEE is how it is networked with foundations that support people from an array of backgrounds and its programs and training for young professionals in the international sector: Globalization in action. (Destinations Include: Germany, UAE, South Africa, Bonaire, Netherlands … A lot like The Big Three)

Link: http://www.ciee.org/

§ The Island School – Discover Our World. Change Yours.

– Who wants to live and learn in paradise? You maybe. And maybe, the Island School is the perfect place for you. Specializing in marine biology and aquatic sporting, high school sophomores and juniors get to exercise their minds and bodies on the island and off the waters of Eleuthera in the tropical Bahamas. Classes all have a marine motif and discuss topics about scientific research and ocean sustainability. Scuba diving and kayaking are frequent activities to help further students’ connection to the sea, which are coupled with the Island School’s famous intense physical and amphibian workouts. Students additionally experience the culture of the Bahamas through trips into the local island community and various service ventures. Enjoy the sun, surf, and a little (or a lot of) sweat? Next fall or spring, why not go to the Island School? (Destinations: the Bahamas)

Link: http://www.islandschool.org (other programs are offered as well)

If you are interested in other semester schools, follow this link to a previous blog post: Desperately Seeking Semester School

NSLI-Y – National Security Language Initiative for Youth (Application for 2020-2021 is currently unavailable)

– Want to be an ambassador? NSLI-Y may be your first big step to that goal. The US State Department offers these supreme, linguistic summer and year programs annually, which may have possibly become the most coveted full ride, language scholarships around. Although the acceptance rate is dropping, and their popularity is soaring: It’s still an amazing program and worth a peek! The goal is to create a generation of language enthusiasts and better the relationships between the US and other nations through critical language education. Are you up for the challenge? (Destinations Include: Jordan, India, Moldova, South Korea, Russia …) Language Options: Arabic, Korean, Turkish, Russian, Hindi, Chinese (Mandarin), and Persian (Tajiki)
*In order to apply, one must have at least a GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale, be a US citizen, have no immediate family essentially working for this program, have not gone abroad with any other State Department sponsored long-term (more than 8 weeks) exchange before that is not NSLI-Y, and be 15 – 18 years old.

Link: http://www.nsliforyouth.org/

Follow this link for detailed eligibility: http://www.nsliforyouth.org/eligibility

For more information and my opinion, read this post: Expat-terns’ NSLI-Y Blog Post

Projects Abroad

– Projects Abroad sends thousands of volunteers to all reaches of the globe every year. People learn, what they label as, Care, Building, Conservation & Environment, Agriculture & Farming etc. This organization is for almost all walks of life. People can volunteer in high school and even in families! Projects Abroad offers Alternative Spring Breaks, Language courses, Undergraduate Dissertations, Gap, and Professional programs as well. One of this organization’s special charms is its online networks for participants to keep in touch. You will meet volunteers from all over the world and really make connections. Volunteers don’t have to go in super structured, organized projects, so more independent experiences are available. If cultural emersion, education, community building, and volunteerism are what you’re looking for in an adventure, Projects Abroad may be the right choice for you. (Destinations Include: Mongolia, Togo, Bolivia, Moldova, Jamaica …) International/ Local Language Options: Arabic, French, Chinese (Mandarin), Russian …/ Cebuano, Sinhalese, Twi, Quechua …

Link (Home Site): http://www.projects-abroad.org/

Link (Language Courses): http://www.projects-abroad.org/volunteer-projects/language-courses/ 

SIT – School for International Training  

– I love how this organization calls almost everything they do an experiment. This may seem unsettling if you’re considering going abroad with them, but it shouldn’t. SIT is an operation with a lot of experience. Programs offered include The Experiment in International Living, which is their phrasing for high school summer trips, undergraduate study abroad, and graduate degree courses. SIT programs are broken down into themes including The Arts, Cultural Discovery, and even Sustainability and Food Systems. If this doesn’t sound enticing, scholarships and grants are offered too, which can be awarded as high as $5,000! Some programs require prerequisites, but they vary individually by course; this shouldn’t stop you from exploring. Really want to learn about the world? Sit down and really consider SIT. (Destinations Include: Botswana, Czech Republic, Libya, Peru, Yemen …)

Link: http://www.sit.edu

§ Swiss Semester

– Want to study abroad in Switzerland next fall? Are you a high school sophomore? The illustrious Swiss Semester may be right up your alley! Located in scenic Zermatt, Swiss Semester students undertake rigorous academics while mountaineering and ice climbing through the Alps, fostering self discovery and personal growth in one of Europe’s most beautiful geologic formations. Classes are representative of the alpine region; the curriculum features art history, geology, and literature courses as well as typical high school mathematics and foreign language classes. Students live closely together and experience European culture through extensive trips into neighboring countries as well, taking advantage of Switzerland’s central location in the continent. By the end of their time abroad, students will have trekked through mountainous terrain, wandered through foreign cities, and been introduced to deep, lasting introspection. Does that sound appealing? (Destinations: Switzerland, Italy, France)

Link: http://www.swisssemester.org

If you are interested in other semester schools, follow this link to a previous blog post: Desperately Seeking Semester School

SYA – School Year Abroad (For high schoolers)  

– A staple of high school abroad experiences, SYA is the organization for juniors and seniors with an interest in a second language and cultural emersion. Starting in Spain in the 1960s, SYA has expanded to France, Italy, and China as well. This institution is unique as it owns and operates its schools. The curriculum itself is that of schools in the United States. SYA offers AP courses, college counseling, standardized testing, and most importantly, they can meet graduation requirements abroad, which often prevents people from taking the leap. Aside from full year programs, they have SYA Summer too. With scholarships available and of course, home stays as housing, who would pass up this amazing opportunity? (Destinations Include: Spain, France, Italy, and China) 

*The majority of classes are taught in their respective languages! 
Link: http://www.sya.org/s/833/start.aspx

Where There Be Dragons 

– In ancient times, map makers would draw dragons to represent unknown, foreign lands. Today, this program takes people abroad to these “unexplored places” (Where There Be Dragons, get it?), and conducts a plethora of programs involving religion, agriculture, and much more. Enjoy a summer, Gap year, higher education (college) semester, or custom trip off the beaten path! (Destinations Include: Cambodia, Nepal, Senegal, Laos, Rwanda …)

Link: http://wheretherebedragons.com/

*Some may consider these trips in essence “voluntourism” – be advised; exercise judgement!

WWOOF – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms

– Do you love gardening, farming, helping others, and living abroad? WWOOFing may be the perfect experience for you. WWOOF allows people in groups or individually to learn about sustainable lifestyles and agriculture by working on farms around the world. Each host farm is part of a network that one must pay to join in order to get the contacts of a respective country. The host and WWOOFer together have to arrange the amount of time of the stay, so the experience is forged through mutual understanding. The host farms take care of room and board, but the visiting worker must take care of transportation to and from the location. All things considered, this is not so bad especially seeing that you get free time off too. Usually you have to be over 18 to legally apply, but certain countries permit minors with some parental consent. Any WWOOFing experience requires research, but the reward is worth it. (Destinations Include: Iceland, Togo, Ireland, Belize, Moldova …)

Link: http://www.wwoof.net/

* Some farms are located in nations without official organizations and are classified as WWOOF Independents. WWOOF Independents function the same way as other WWOOF sites, but the membership for this loosely strung group of farms is international for the countries included – it is not country specific.

Link: http://www.wwoofindependents.org

YES – The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program (Application for 2018-2019 is currently available) Application Due: December 4, 2018 at 11:59 PM PST

– Have an interest in traveling to countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East? YES may be the perfect experience for you! YES is a program specifically dedicated to exchange between the U.S. and countries with large Muslim populations. This program is for a high school year abroad and those with an interest in foreign relations. Eligibility, and the program itself, is similar to that of NSLI-Y, which is not surprising because they are both sponsored by the US State Department. This can cause some complications for “study abroaders”: One cannot participate in NSLI-Y and YES (or any other State Department administered program) in the same year. Other restrictions apply. However on the bright side, scholarships are offered! YES also accepts applications for non-Americans to come study in the United States (unlike NSLI-Y), which means if you yourself cannot study abroad, you can host and still experience some cross-cultural exchange. YES can whisk you off to some of the most interesting and far away places from your home, US or otherwise. For anyone interested in promoting intercultural awareness, international relations, and becoming an ambassador, there is only one answer: YES! (Destinations: Macedonia, Indonesia, Oman, Turkey, Malaysia …)
*Previous French skills are necessary for placement in Morocco & Senegal  

Link: http://yes-abroad.org/

Follow this link for detailed eligibility: http://yes-abroad.org/pages/eligibility
Follow this link to a larger organization site: http://yesprograms.org/

(+) YFU – Youth for Understanding

– Though its acronym may seem slightly offensive, YFU is an organization much in the way of AFS. YFU takes students abroad to all reaches of the earth on Gap, high school year, semester, and summer programs. One of YFU’s charms is the amount of partial and full scholarships it offers annually. That is not to say that other programs don’t have such discounts, but YFU’s sheer amount is quite impressive. (Destinations Include: Brazil, South Korea, Poland, Kazakhstan, Uruguay … A lot like AFS!)

Link: http://www.yfu-usa.org/

*This link is specifically for the USA YFU chapter

If you personally want to endorse any travel organization, please feel free to leave a comment or email me at expatterns@gmail.com – We can make a quick snippet like above and share your experience or opinion ASAP!