Curious about what classes abroad are like? While academics may not get the most hype out of the study abroad experience, most students are surprised to find how much they learn from the courses they take on their program. Although the classes you can take abroad vary depending on your program, they do share some general similarities.
Here are some of the things you can expect from your classes abroad:
When you take classes abroad, your professors will likely be passionate about their subject area and enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge with students from different backgrounds. They may have different teaching and grading styles than what you’re used to, which can challenge you in new ways and help you grow academically.
Your professors abroad can also offer you a fresh take on what’s happening around the world and give you a unique glimpse into the local culture. They’re there to help you out and guide you through your studies, so take advantage of their support to expand your skill set and broaden your perspective!
Do you have to know a language other than English to take classes abroad? Nope! AIFS Abroad has programs designed for all levels of language learners – from the beginner to fluent and native speakers.
“My classes are taught in English except for my Spanish class, of course.” – Chase, AIFS Abroad in Barcelona, Spain
Your class schedule abroad
Due to visa regulations, students on our semester-long programs take a full course load (typically four to five 3-credit classes). On our summer programs, the course load is usually one or two 3-credit classes, but it can be more depending on your program’s length. January Term programs typically consist of one, 3-credit class. Many programs hold classes 4 days per week to allow more time for weekend exploring and traveling!
Here’s one more thing to keep in mind when you’re choosing your classes abroad: you don’t need to take courses related to your major (though you can, of course). Many students use their time abroad as a fun way to complete their general education requirements.
“I am an education and history major so I took an education class (working in a school), two history classes, and a photography class. There is a lot of grace with studying abroad because they also know that you are learning from the culture. So I would say that they are not too difficult but still a good amount of work and you learn so much!” – Isabelle, AIFS Abroad in Stellenbosch, South Africa
Learning beyond the classroom
Field trips and other experiential learning opportunities are a major highlight of taking classes abroad. This can be a great way to get out and explore your host country while also learning something new. You might visit museums, historical sites, or even local businesses to get a hands-on learning experience. Instead of just reading about significant places, you can see them for yourself — it’s like watching your textbooks come to life!
“Since I’m doing the internship here, I’m only taking two classes and those are Photojournalism and Travel Writing. I don’t know if I have a favorite because I really like both of them honestly. For my Travel Writing class we usually go on excursions to see parts of Rome, art exhibitions each class. […]Both are very fun. You get to see a lot more of Rome with those classes!” – Kaitlyn, AIFS Abroad in Rome, Italy
Classes abroad + accommodations
Here’s a myth we need to bust – if you have a learning disability or need academic accommodations, it’s NOT impossible to study abroad. AIFS makes it easy to request accommodations abroad. Students should share any relevant documentation with their Program Advisor or Program Manager upon application to the program so accommodations can be reviewed and, as possible, provided. Although AIFS Abroad is committed to supporting all students in their study abroad journey, we cannot guarantee that it will be possible to honor all accommodation requests. AIFS staff will review all requests, consult with onsite staff and host institutions and communicate with you throughout this process. For more info, visit our student resources page.
Study abroad programs typically offer academic credit — talk about a great way to get one step closer to your degree! AIFS Abroad is no exception. Whether you’re taking one 3-credit course or a full course load abroad, you should be issued a transcript. Your home university or college determines how the credits you earn abroad will transfer. Most colleges throughout the United States accept the credits earned on AIFS Abroad programs. Another bonus? AIFS Abroad has affiliation agreements with more than 400 colleges and universities across the United States to make the process of transferring your credits even easier.
During the AIFS application process, you’ll complete a Course Approval Form. This form needs to be signed off by your study abroad office staff and/or faculty at your university. We recommend getting additional courses approved in case you decide to change courses while abroad. An official transcript will be issued by your university abroad and sent to your home university at the end of the semester.
A few extra tips for your classes abroad:
“The biggest thing that I can recommend is not planning travel until you know your class schedule if you can. Class excursions, tests, and projects can throw off previously scheduled trips so save your planning until you get to your destination and know what your daily routine may be like, so you aren’t stressed trying to re-plan trips.” – Brooke, AIFS Abroad in Salzburg, Austria alum
Managing your time well is super important during your program. If you know you’ll be going on a weekend trip and you have schoolwork due Monday, try to finish it ahead of time. We also recommend finding a favorite study spot where you can focus.
Finally, keep in mind that every study abroad program is unique. Be sure to check the Academics section of your program page to learn more about courses offered, grading systems and your host university.