University Studies Abroad Consortium

USAC

About

USAC is a non-profit consortium of U.S. universities that collaborates to offer affordable, academic and authentic study abroad programs. There are abundant opportunities to immerse in the culture, history, and academics of other countries providing an unforgettable experience. Each program is designed to help you grow into an engaged citizen of the world—not only through academic experiences, but also through field trips, internships, volunteering, and service learning.

Students can choose from programs in over 50 cities across 28 countries, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and Oceania. Students can enroll to study abroad with USAC for summer, semester, an entire academic year, or winter session.

Website
Headquarters

University Studies Abroad Consortium
University of Nevada Mail Stop 0323
Reno, NV 89557-0323
United States

Application Deadline Approaching: Apply for Fall by June 1

Fall programs start as low as $4900. From STEM and health sciences to business, education, and International Studies, take courses in a range of fields in regions across the world. Apply for fall by June 1

Reviews

Default avatar
Anna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

In my opinion, Poland is one of the most underrated countries in Europe. Granted, I have Polish heritage, so I might be biased, but anyone who's visited knows how special this place is.

As a young woman, I truly felt safe in the city, though of course normal precautions should be taken.

The Cracow University of Economics is a great place to build your resume and learn more about international business. Honestly, I didn't have a great understanding of the European Union, but the combination of learning about and living in the EU gave deeper meaning to the international conversations that have been going on.

If you're into outdoor adventures, there are some great hikes and parks around the city - you could also hop on a short train ride and be in the Tatra Mountains. If you're more into quiet museums, art, and coffee shops, Krakow can oblige you, too. Krakow indisputably is the heart of Polish history and heritage, and you can see it in every corner of the city. There is no limit to your exploration; I spent four months there during this program, and I know I barely scratched the surface of the deep beauty ingrained in everything you see.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
- Take your time getting to know the area.
- Quality over quantity.
- Don't be afraid to have a life-changing experience, even though it just seems like a study abroad cliche (I was amazed at how many study abroad cliches were true!).
- Build genuine connections with the people around you (and that doesn't mean trying to be everyone's best friend). Just be yourself and accept people where they are, too.
- Keep in touch with people -- it'll lessen your culture shock/make you feel less alone. That goes for your journey abroad & your journey home.
Default avatar
Alexa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I studied in Santiago de Chile with USAC in spring 2019. My experience was incredible for a number of reasons.

First, the staff members were amazing; they had a connection with all of the students and went above and beyond to help us out with things like weekend travel, navigating the culture of Chile, and even job interviews and recommendations.

Second, the classes were great. I took a full-time course load all in Spanish as a Spanish language learner and I felt that I was challenged while still having the ability to enjoy my time abroad without stressing too much about my grades; I would definitely say that the courses were focused more on the learning process and content than on tests and assessments.

Finally, Chile is just an amazing place and USAC is an amazing program. I lived with a Chilean woman with whom I still keep in contact, and I am so grateful for that relationship that I wouldn't have gotten in other programs that don't have homestay options. I felt safe and comfortable while in Santiago, while still pushing the boundaries of my understanding of the world. It was an experience I will never forget and yeah, I love telling people I went to Chile because that's way cooler than the normal study abroad countries.

Here's what I think you should know if you're considering going to Santiago:
-the food can be bland and even when it's spiced, it's still never spicy... so bring your favorite hot sauce
-accept that public transportation is your best friend
-it literally has something for everybody: a recent military dictatorship for the politics and history buffs, incredible landscapes for those who love spending time in nature, lots of religious culture for those who like that, street food because nobody dislikes street food, etc.
-if you carry a purse, make sure it zips! pick-pockets are so talented
-a homestay is 100% a must, every student in the program who didn't do a homestay expressed regret at some point
-keep an open mind! Santiago was really similar to my home in some ways and worlds apart in others, but the most important thing for me was to keep an open mind and to love it as it was
-take a billion pictures, call your mom, and have tons of fun!!!

What was your funniest moment?
My funniest moment was when I sent my friend home to her apartment from a bar in an uber... and I accidentally chose the university address instead of her apartment address. Since she didn't have phone service at the time I felt horrible, but luckily the uber driver was really nice and when I changed the address and they realized what happened, he took her home. I could laugh about it because Santiago is a very safe city and I had no problems with uber drivers at all while I was there.
Default avatar
Araceli
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Studying abroad in Santiago, Chile really was a life-changing and eye-opening experience for me as well as many of my peers from the program. Studying in Santiago did more than expose us to a new culture. It changed us all for the better! During our time away from home, we all grew and become close to each other. We made new friends that over time become like family. We discovered sides of ourselves that we never knew and at times we also exposed ourselves to new adventures out of our comfort zone, that even in our wildest dreams seemed impossible.

Chile is not just a beautiful country because of its unique sceneries. Chile is a beautiful country because Chileans make it beautiful. All the people from the program welcomed us with a warmth that allowed us to feel comfortable in a country that was thousands of miles away from home. Leaving Chile at the end of the semester felt like the day I had left the states. It felt like I was leaving home.

Default avatar
Jessica
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

During the (awfully short) four months I spent in Santiago, I met people who became some of my best friends, learned a lot from my professors and the international students I met, and probably had the best time of my life. I don’t know what it was, but the culture USAC and the students created was very homey and everyone got along even if we wouldn’t have hung out normally.

Everyone was super friendly, welcoming, and always up to create new friends and explore new places in the city. The advisors were more like friends, and they made the students feel welcomed right away with their jokes. I never got homesick and I always felt like I was growing as a person. I grew a lot while being abroad and if I have any regrets, it’s that I didn’t study abroad for a year.

What would you improve about this program?
The courses offered were a little limited. Also, the website looks super unofficial and if USAC wasn’t working directly with my university, I wouldn’t have trusted it, so update your website.
Default avatar
Cori
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Through this program Santiago, Chile, I truly felt like I was home. The most scared I ever was about the trip was getting on the plane to first head over there. The idea of being away from home for a length of time that I never had spent before, to go to a country which spoke a language I barely managed, all while still going to school and trying to pass with decent grades seemed like an insurmountable challenge that I feared I lacked the capability to complete.
But then I landed. As soon as I got off of the plane with the group of 40-something other students, probably feeling the same way as I did, there was a smiling face who worked with USAC. Immediately I felt like I was in the company those who would not let me get too overwhelmed, and would do all they could to make sure I came out of the other side of the semester.
The city is marvelous, and the Santiaguinos are such a wonderful people. There was never a shortage of things to do on weekends, from hiking trails through the mountains, or taking an hour bus ride to the beach, or play a soccer match in a park with friends... But for me, the main reason I fell in love with Santiago and loved doing it through USAC was the Santiago USAC staff and my Chilean family I lived with who worked with them. They were guides who first showed me so many of the great things there were to do, they were support when I couldn't reach my bank or use my money so they let me use their phones to contact the States or made sure I had food and money for transportation, they let me cry on their shoulder when I felt overwhelmed and they would motivate me to see inner-strength I didn't even know I had. And if I cried to them, they would call me the next day to make sure I am getting by. The USAC staff in Santiago and my Chilean family made me feel welcome in Santiago, and thinking back I consider them family.
I left feeling not 100% of a United States citizen, but some percentage of Chilean too, which was my goal all along: to broaden my horizons and experience a great challenge. I can't say enough good about the city and the program, and as I finish writing this and reflecting over my time there my heart aches, missing those wonderful people, missing seeing mountains out of my window, missing taking the metro all over a city that has such a rich culture, missing my Santiaguino life. I will go back. 100%.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
One week we had a little bit extra time of for the weekend than usual, and some friends and I decided to just head down to Patagonia to do some camping, check out some glaciers, and hike some intense trails. No big deal, just one of the most beautiful places in the world which is the most south you can be without being in Antarctica. Yeah, sounds like a fun weekend!
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Programs

Alumni Interviews

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

Why did you choose this program?

I chose the program because it came highly recommended to me by my counselor and it was in a city that appeared interesting to me. It seemed to me that all of my contemporaries wanted to go to Europe, but the nature and people of South America seemed much more appealing. In addition, the program included me living with a Chilean family. Being that my main goal for going abroad was to sharpen my Spanish-speaking ability, that was something that caught my interest and seemed the best way to do that.

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

I was helped all along the process by my university and the program provider. The only item that stands out in my mind that demanded I be the one to fulfill was obtaining my Chilean Visa, which involved scheduling doctor appointments, getting fingerprinted for background checks, contacting the closest Chilean Consulate, establishing an appointment with them, and traveling to them. But even then I received a lot of helpful guidance.

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

My main piece of advice would be to befriend as many locals as you can. There are so many opportunities for Study Abroad students to get to know locals, like barbecues, etc., in which I made lasting friendships and those people opened my eyes to the things that went beyond a tourist guide. I know of several people who only spent time with other United States students, only spoke Spanish if they needed to (lamenting it the whole time) and never left Santiago.

Yes, they made it that far by coming to a foreign country and they probably still had a great time, but there are so many hidden treasures within that country that locals can guide you to. And on top of that, getting to know people from a different culture was the most exciting thing I did there. Santiaguinos are truly wonderful people.

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

An average day would consist of waking up and having breakfast with my Chilean family while watching the news. It took about an hour in total, walking to the metro station, making a transfer or two, and then walking to the university. Class would start at 9:30 and go until about 3, with a 30 minute pause in between to grab lunch (which always consisted of taking advantage of the plethora of affordable delicious street food). The classes only had other Study Abroad students, but the professors were all still Chilean and notably brilliant. What was covered in class, yes, was at times packed with grammar lessons and writing exercises. But many times teachers cultivated atmospheres of discussion and thought experiments which made class incredibly pleasant and afforded everyone an opportunity to stretch their minds and participate in conversations that shined light on cultural differences, et cetera.

Afterwards, I'd generally return home to peacefully do my homework, drink tea, and later have dinner with my family, chatting and laughing the whole time while watching corny game shows in Spanish. However, there was no shortage of things to do throughout the weeks, like social events, concerts, barbecues, or what have you. The program would have field trips every couple of weeks where they would take us zip-lining or white water rafting which were always incredible. And weekends would be completely up to the student. Want to spend a weekend in a small surfer town and enjoy the beach? Go ahead. Want to go camping in the mountains? Cowabunga! Want to see what Argentina is like? Just a couple of dollars and hours to catch a bus. Do you want to go and dance the night away with some new Chilean friends? Sure, just be safe and stick with your friends! Or do you want to make your own dinner for your family and just relax at home? It's all up to you.

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

My biggest fear going into the trip was that my language abilities were not good enough, that communicating would be near impossible for me, and that everyone else would be way better than me and I would "fail". As soon as I arrived and met my fellow Study Abroad students, though, I was comforted by the fact that they all had the same fear.

As far as overcoming it, it did take a little bit of time to gain confidence because your improvement happens without you noticing. My Chilean sisters recorded me talking to them when I first arrived and showed it to me about 2 months later. I was amazed at how much better I had magically become! When once I would just hear people speaking in tongues to me, all of a sudden I was hearing specific words and noticing distinct ways in which every person spoke. I was watching the news, and talking about how the stories there reminded me of stories in my country. I was laughing at cheesy Chilean jokes and suddenly was able to tell my own jokes from my childhood, but now just in Spanish.

As far as my method for changing this, I'd just recommend talking as much as you can. And if you make some mistakes, it is okay. Just do it everyday. Everyone arrives at different levels of ability, but no one is going to shun you or make fun of your lack of ability. In fact, everyone wants to help and there is no shortage of patience, especially on the part of the Chilean family or my professors. And in the end, everyone leaves better.

I would say to anyone who might have this fear, don't worry about it because that is one of the main reasons we want to go abroad, right? To improve our language abilities, and through interacting with a different culture in their country and in their language, we understand a little more about the world. It takes time, but if it really comes down to a moment where you cannot get a point across, there is always charades.

What was your favorite part?

My favorite part is that I will never be able to answer this question. Sure, I can say that I loved camping in Patagonia and seeing the sunrise at the bottom of the world while drinking glacial runoff out of the rivers a shade of blue I never thought could be so blue. Or I could say it was when my Chilean mother comforted me when I was crying homesick tears, and, in her hug that only a loving mother could give, I realized that I would always have a family and a home there on the other side of the world.

But there are so many of those moments, and in some ways even the bad moments, like me getting pick-pocketed in the metro, stand out as fond memories that I can tell while laughing to my friends and family in my country. How can I explain that I cherish even the scary situations or hard times? I might go my whole life and not fully realize just how deeply this experience has touched me, because it was just that profound...

Maybe think about how you would want to answer that question, and do those things. Do want to say your favorite part was learning to surf in an ocean you have never seen in real life before? Do you want to find your best friend who, even though you are from different countries and speak different languages, you will love for the rest of your life? As soon as your plane arrives, set out to create those stories. Just know that the trip can offer you those opportunities but it will do so so much more. It may sound strange, but I hope you won't be able that question as much as I can't.

More Interviews

Staff Interviews

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

Sarah Kapel

Job Title
Program Advisor

Sarah advises students who are planning to study abroad in USAC China, Prague, Haifa, and Bristol programs, and helps them with housing, flights, culture shock, and any other pre-departure questions they may have. She graduated with a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Nevada, Reno and studied Visual Design at the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts. When she's not at work, she loves to hike, ride her bike, and explore local coffee shops.

What is your favorite travel memory?

While in Costa Rica, I loved seeing the local flora and fauna every day. Every morning, I would have a cup of the best café in the world with my host family, and then I would walk to school. I loved how normal it was to see beautiful bromeliads growing on the side of the road and hearing howler monkeys.

On my walks to school in Puntarenas, there were two iguanas that would greet me in the morning. I named them Magenta and Ramses, and they made me smile every day.

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

I have learned to laugh at my mistakes. I started at USAC as a student worker and recently was promoted to a Program Advisor. I used to be very nervous to make a mistake, but working with USAC encouraged me to use those moments as opportunities to learn and grow personally and professionally.

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

I recently received an e-mail from a USAC student who just returned from studying for a semester in China. He thanked USAC for giving him the opportunity to see new parts of the world, meet interesting local people, and learn more about his own culture and heritage.

I love when students have personal connections to our programs because I believe that it enhances their experience, and they gain a greater appreciation for their own heritage.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Montevideo, Uruguay. Since this program opened, I have been dreaming of visiting this beautiful oceanside city. I love learning about Latin American culture, and I think that Uruguay would offer a unique experience separate from more traditional locations. The program also has super cool tours and fields trips offered – like visiting Buenos Aires!

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

USAC is unique because we have a lot of heart. All of us have studied abroad or lived abroad so we know how special it can be. I am proud of USAC every day, but we do have a pretty amazing Halloween party each year. I was so proud of my team for decking out in full Harry Potter themed attire this past year.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I think it’s really important to support your coworkers.

USAC is a successful company because we are one big family, and we help each other out.

Even though we have hundreds of staff members spread out all over the world, we're able to support each other near and far. Being supportive of one another sponsors a positive work environment.

More Interviews
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