IES Abroad

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
Chicago, IL 60603-5405
United States


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Yes, I recommend this program

I attended the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin through IES. Best semester I have had yet! I learned so much in such a short amount of time. Studying abroad was such a great experience. IES was so helpful and supportive throughout the entire ordeal. Staff members of IES and GSA were fantastic. IES was fantastic in encouraging us to experience the beauty of Ireland and experiencing the culture with field trips and such. I recommend taking the field trips, even if they are out of your comfort zone.
Dublin has such a rich history that is evident throughout the entire city. Highly recommend traveling to, especially for the theatre! I saw some of the best shows I have had the privilege of seeing in Dublin. IES is there to help you explore the beautiful world around you, with their financial aid, contests and tips and tricks, they make it as affordable as they can, it may not be as out of budget as you may think. Give them a chance, check it out and if you can, go explore this beautiful world!

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Yes, I recommend this program

Shanghai Jiao Tong University is located outside the downtown area of Shanghai but is still accessible within an hour on the train. There is a very extensive transportation system all throughout the Shanghai city and surrounding area, and they have over 20 metro lines. Shanghai is often called a city of cities, so take time to explore the many areas.

The school is very known for its alum and technical achievements and there are many tech talks that go on throughout the term that international students are more than welcome to attend. Setting up classes was very similar to the process at universities in America, it's done online using your student ID number and you pick the courses you want to register for and you can add or drop online before the deadline.

The staff and support are phenomenal! Upon arrival, there is an orientation with everything you need to know to get around in China. Coming from someone who just started Chinese when I arrived in Shanghai I was more than prepared for the basic things like paying and eating.

What would you improve about this program?
I would encourage students to participate in a homestay.
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Yes, I recommend this program

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

Being a smaller, lesser known city than a lot of other study abroad options, I thought Freiburg facilitated a more authentic cultural experience. I didn’t know any German before I went on the program (which is not a problem because mostly everyone speaks english) but by the end of the trip I was able to ask basic questions and read a whole menu/order at cafes just by being surrounded by it. IES is great at giving you all the information you need to get around and familiarize yourself and you also make friends extremely fast!
Freiburg is in a great location for traveling around Europe, it is the sunniest spot in Germany and there is so so much to do outside (go swimming, hikes, bike rides, concerts in nearby towns, biergartens), the public transportation is amazing and affordable, and you are always surrounded by the Black Forest and expansive fields/orchards to have a picnic in. Freiburg is a perfect size to be able to get to know in a semester and by the end it really felt like a second home to me because there is a strong community feeling there. There's local student spots that hold a lot of events and do a great job including international students. It is so easy and fun to meet people from all over the world! Live music is plenty downtown. Really cool opportunities to get involved in local volunteering, sustainability, or artistic initiatives. Classes were super informative and applicable to real-world sustainability work, not to mention interesting. All the IES instructors were really knowledgable, kind, and approachable.
Fun things to do are cooking big dinners in someones flat, going to a german Bathhouse, or taking weekend trips to other european cities, but the best thing about this specific program which I think a lot of people who go abroad to other places do not experience is the incredible beauty that we got to see. From the Swiss Alps to the Vosges Mountains in France to the surrounding Black Forest towns, you are seeing beautiful landscapes continuously throughout this program and hiking a lot. I learned so much about sustainability and practicing a green lifestyle which I could have only adopted by being in a green-focused environment. Freiburg is a really special place.

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Yes, I recommend this program

I cannot say enough good things about my experience studying abroad in Sydney, Australia last semester. From the amazing people I met to the incredible places I explored and unbelievable experiences I had, my time down under was everything I hoped it would be and so much more, and my decision to study abroad was one of the best I have ever made. Before embarking last July, I had never even stepped foot in the southern hemisphere, so Australia was a giant leap beyond any adventure I had ever lived before. I knew little about the culture, the geography, or really anything about the country for that matter beyond what I had heard about kangaroos, koalas, and surfing paradises. So when I hopped off the plane in Sydney, I was ready for anything. Meeting my program mates at the airport, driving through the center of Sydney on the way to University of Sydney's campus, and an amazing harbor cruise later, within just a few short hours I felt like I had already gotten to know Sydney, and it already felt like home. The first few weeks were spent exploring everything Sydney has to offer, and it didn't disappoint. From lazy beach days at Bondi and Manly to thrift shopping in Chinatown and experiencing Sydney's incredible nightlife, it didn't take long for me to fall in love with a city I had only dreamt of a month earlier. IES organized hikes for us in the Blue Mountains and Royal National Park, allowing us to get a glimpse of the stunning scenery and landscapes set just miles outside of the contrasting concrete jungle of Sydney's downtown. Once we had settled in to our new home and gotten in to a rhythm with our classes, it was time to venture beyond and explore what the rest of Australia had to offer! Our first big weekend trip of the semester was to Hamilton Island in the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, a true tropical paradise that makes for a relaxing weekend of pristine beaches and unwinding. Not to mention we got to hold a Koala, something you can't do in most parts of Australia! This first trip started a run of weekends on the go, from the amazing landscapes and hiking in Tasmania to learning (somewhat) how to surf in Woolongong and ending up in Fiji for mid-semester break. Fiji was the kind of place I had always heard about and I thought it would be super cool to go there, but the thought never even crossed my mind that I would actually go there. So to be jumping off the rooftop of Cloud 9 into the crystal clear Pacific Ocean only 2 months after arriving down under was one of the most surreal experiences I have been lucky enough to ever have. After returning back from Fiji, it was really nice to be able to have a few weeks back in Sydney. I found that no matter where we traveled, I always looked forward to being back in Sydney and being able to make the most of my time there. Walking around Circular Quay, taking the ferry to Watson's Bay, stopping through the Botanical gardens: there really is anything available to you that you could want. Next up was a trip to Melbourne for the weekend, an equally unreal city, and a viewing of the Melbourne soccer derby between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory. We unknowingly purchased tickets for the Melbourne City away section, but ended up making the right decision as City came out with a hard fought victory (no pun intended). With the weeks flying by, and our trip to Melbourne complete, before we knew it classes were over and Study Vacation rolled around, which we used, instead of gearing up with finals, to road trip around New Zealand's South Island for the week. And believe me when I tell you there is no more beautiful place in the world than New Zealand. We had planned out the destinations we wanted to hit, but just the driving there was in some ways more amazing. Rolling hills set against towering mountains in the distance turned into serene glacial lakes and dense forests. Hiking to the top of tall peaks in Wanaka and checking out the nightlife in Queenstown, we saw as much as we could in our short time there, and before long it was back to Sydney for exams. Studying hard for the next few days, I didn't really have time to reflect much on my semester, but once I walked out of my last exam, it hit me that my time abroad was coming to an end. I had seen so much, yet it felt like it had gone by in the blink of an eye. In my last few days, as I started saying goodbye to the people I had grown so close to over the past few months, I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of sadness that I would have to leave my favorite place. But as I prepared to depart back to the US, I left a piece of myself on campus, in the sands of Bondi, and everywhere that I was lucky enough to call home for those few months. As sad as I was to leave, and as much as I miss Australia every single day, I know someday I'll be back, and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to Study Abroad. I would encourage absolutely anyone to make the same choice I did, as there really is no other experience like it. It was the adventure of my lifetime, and it could be for you, too.

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing that I think could be improved about the experience was the class registration process, which was a little bit confusing for incoming study abroad students.


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Alumni Interviews

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

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because it works well with my majors and IES works with my university, which means grade transfers is automatic and takes shorter time in process. When I searched for different programs and class offerings, I thought that IES had a pretty good options and the classes are interesting. Those classes gave me new perspective and greater understanding about the history and culture of Germany especially Berlin.

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

IES has this pre-departure information that covers basic information and expectations for academics and daily life. They pretty much organize everything including accommodations. IES sent a survey for students related to housing as we will be paired with a host family. Students must organize their flight to and from the city on their own, as we have different schedules.

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

Going abroad is a time where you can learn more about yourself, what you like and what you don't like. Studying abroad is all about exploring and trying new things, go beyond your comfort zone. I think keeping an open mind is really important. If I can do it again, I will have a list of places I want to go, before arriving in Berlin, and try to check it off while abroad. I thought I have a lot of time to search and explore, but time passes so quickly when we enjoy.

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

I take classes four out of the five working days, which means I have a three-day weekend. I managed to have morning classes, so I can spend the rest of the day exploring the city and doing homework. I would do independent travels on some weekends or go places with my host family like picnic or going to the zoo.

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

The program I took was a language program which makes it my biggest fear. My goal was to be able to apply the language and speak better, but at the same time I am also scared to speak with other native speakers. But I just try to speak German as much as I can and I also practice with my host family. Practice really makes it perfect.

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Staff Interviews

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

Anna McCloskey

Job Title
Digital Marketing Coordinator
Anna McCloskey is a graduate of Lake Forest College and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, as well as an IES Abroad alumna. From digital marketing to thrift shopping, Anna loves discovering new treasures and sharing the unexpected.
Anna in Morocco

What is your favorite travel memory?

When I studied abroad in Spain, I intentionally limited my personal travel to stay in Granada and practice my Spanish as much as possible. I did, however, make two major week-long trips outside of Andalucía that semester: Morocco and Vienna—both of which include some of my favorite travel memories!

If I had to pick only one favorite travel memory, it would be a seemingly mundane day toward the end of my stay in Vienna. My then boyfriend and I had traveled to Vienna on a slim budget with minimal German and no plans. We spent an entire day just wandering the city making our way from one restaurant recommendation to the next. I remember that it was particularly cold, I didn’t have a warm enough coat, and both of us were under the weather—yet somehow it became one of my favorite days of my entire study abroad experience. We stumbled upon amazing architecture, found photo booths, stopped in chocolate shops, talked to strangers, and simply enjoyed getting lost with nowhere to be other than where we already were.

I think that opportunity to lose yourself in the moment is one of the best aspects of study abroad.

Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

As an IES Abroad alumna I’m biased, and will always recommend Granada for study abroad! That said, I work closely with our Italy programs, and have to admit that I’ve developed a major crush on Siena. As a smaller, less-known city in Tuscany, we affectionately refer to Siena as Italy’s best kept secret. I’m attracted to the charm and beauty of the region, the deep-rooted and ever-present history of Siena, as well as our programming—who wouldn’t want to study the Business & Economics of Italian Food & Wine!

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

With the marketing team at IES Abroad, I’ve developed a wide range of technical digital marketing skills—from e-mail marketing and search engine optimization to photo editing and social media—not to mention that I’ve also grown quite a bit personally and professionally.

Being a marketer requires an empathetic mindset, which is all the more relevant to those of us who have experienced an IES Abroad program first-hand. Since working at IES Abroad, I’ve developed a different understanding of and respect for my time in Granada, and how it continues to affect my life years after I’ve returned.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

I’m driven by IES Abroad’s dedication to our students. We work here because we believe in what we do, and we’re here with one goal: to ensure that each of our students has the highest quality study and intern abroad experience possible. That seemingly simple sentiment resonates through everything we do—marketing, advising, teaching, mentoring—and it’s both humbling and inspiring to work at a study abroad company that prioritizes the students over anything else.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

In part of my role as the Digital Marketing Coordinator, I manage our student blogging program. Each day I get to read personal accounts of what our students are experiencing across the world right now. They’re insightful, they’re heartwarming, they remind me of what it is we are doing for these students, and they often they make me laugh! Our student bloggers are incredibly talented, and they’re having these life-changing experiences that I feel so lucky to be a part of.

One of my favorite posts from this semester was from a Dublin blogger, Kaylie (Knox College), titled On the Shoe. Kaylie has a way with words that makes her posts both deeply profound and easy to read. In this particular post, she talked about the level of self-awareness you develop when you’re in a new place and feeling as though you stand out. I remember her comparing it to the middle-school-desire-to-be-cool that never really goes away. It’s a must-read!

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