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Study Abroad Program Locations that Offer Service Learning & Community Service Classes

by AIFS Abroad
People putting hands in during a huddle. community service concept.

Whether you’re majoring in a field related to Community Service or Service Learning, just need to fulfill a class requirement, or are simply passionate about giving back, why not take those types of classes as you study abroad?

Participating in social impact initiatives while studying abroad is very common and popular amongst college students. While there are endless opportunities to volunteer abroad no matter your location, select study abroad programs offer more formal academic coursework or programs specifically geared toward Service Learning and Community Service.

Here are a few of our fantastic study abroad locations that offer classes or programs in Community Service and Service Learning.

Stellenbosch, South Africa
Stellenbosch, South Africa

1. Stellenbosch, South Africa

Just a stone’s throw from Cape Town, Stellenbosch is nestled in the picturesque winelands of the Western Cape and is surrounded by stunning mountain ranges. The town has a rich and complex history that’s reflected in its Cape Dutch, Georgian, and Victorian architecture. As a lively university city, visitors can explore fascinating museums, quaint coffee shops, lively bars, and thriving arts venues. Nature lovers will love it here, too — venture beyond the town to hike through vineyards, orchards, and scenic mountain trails.

In addition to its charm and overall appeal as a travel destination, students interested in pursuing community service or Service Learning opportunities will love making Stellenbosch their study abroad program destination. The city plays a crucial role in community service through its dedication to addressing local social challenges and promoting community development. With collaborative efforts between local government, NGOs, and educational institutions, Stellenbosch strives to uplift marginalized groups and foster sustainable solutions for a more inclusive society.

AIFS alum, Jordan, gives us a look into the lecture and practical components of the Service Learning course in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

While there are a variety of program options available in Stellenbosch, the Global Service Learning program is especially exciting for students interested in community service. By participating, students will develop an understanding of the historical background and current issues impacting community life and problems in South Africa and will experience it first hand through service to a South African community while earning academic credits. This program is situated at the intersection between (international) education, community engagement, and sustainable development and aims to harness students’ self-reflection to engage with contemporary global issues in a local context and use the community engagement elements critically as a tool for social impact. 

“This class has introduced me to the art of community development and that coming in and ‘making a difference’ is a very naive way to think. Real change begins from focusing on the strengths of a community and doing things that involve educating them as well as educating ourselves on how to better our interactions in future projects.”

Katie H., AIFS Abroad in Stellenbosch, South Africa alum from Appalachian State University
Limerick, Ireland
Limerick, Ireland

2. Limerick, Ireland

As one of Ireland’s largest cities, Limerick offers unique opportunities to college students interested in studying abroad and pursuing Service Learning or Community Service classes while there.

In addition to stellar academic institutions like the University of Limerick, the city itself is a hub of Irish culture and tradition, with a unique history of Viking influence. The architecture is marvelous, and being nestled along the River Shannon makes for a quaint setting. Plus, if you’re interested in studying abroad in a smaller, English-speaking city, don’t sleep on Limerick.

Limerick stands out in community service with its proactive efforts in addressing social challenges and promoting community engagement. Through collaborative partnerships between local government, nonprofits, and grassroots organizations, the city is committed to fostering inclusivity and enhancing the well-being of its residents.

With classes at the University of Limerick such as “Social and Civic Engagement,” college students who study abroad in Limerick through AIFS Abroad will have the opportunity to explore new, innovative and unique modules of approaching student engagement at a local, regional and national level.

View of the Duomo in Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy

3. Florence, Italy

The Italian city of Florence is a timeless blend of art, culture, and history. With iconic landmarks like the Ponte Vecchio, Pitti Palace, Piazza della Signoria, and Accademia (home to the Statue of David), the city is a picturesque backdrop that inspires artists along the Arno River. You’ll love exploring Florence’s many museums, galleries, churches, and theaters. Plus, if you’re a food enthusiast, you’ll be in your glory — Tuscan cuisine is some of the world’s most renowned! Whatever your preferences, Florence provides the perfect setting to immerse yourself in the authentic essence of Italian life and culture.

For college students who are majoring in community service related fields or are interested in it, Florence is a great place to live and learn. The city is dedicated to service efforts through collaborative initiatives involving government agencies, nonprofits, and cultural institutions.

Students interested in taking Service Learning or community service classes abroad in Florence can study at the AIFS Abroad Global Education Center and participate in our Global Service Learning program. Academic credit for our program in Florence is awarded by Fairfield University, our School of Record. This option is open to students from all disciplines and majors who wish to participate in a community-based learning experience, combining service in the local community with structured preparation and reflection opportunities. As students engage in service learning, they learn about the context in which service is provided, understand the connection between their service and their coursework, and their role as community members. Community work placement provides students with the opportunity to grow academically, professionally, personally and civically through participation in a service learning experience.

Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy
Rome, Italy

4. Rome, Italy

You know what they say — there’s no place like Rome. With its sunny climate and literal ancient history around every doorstep, the Eternal City offers an enriching international educational experience. As a student abroad in Rome, you’ll be immersed in over 3,000 years of Western culture. From the iconic Colosseum to the majestic Vatican Museums, visitors stroll along the streets of Italy’s capital city where former emperors, popes, and celebrated figures once walked. Mind blown!

For college students who are interested in social impact fields, Rome is a great place to be. The city prioritizes preserving history, helping out those in need, and making sure the environment stays healthy. Plus, everyone works together—government, charities, and local groups—to make sure everyone no one is left behind.

Students interested in taking Service Learning or community service classes abroad in Rome can study at the AIFS Abroad Global Education Center and participate in our Global Service Learning program. Academic credit for our program in Florence is awarded by Fairfield University, our School of Record. This course is open to students from all disciplines and majors who wish to participate in a community-based learning experience. Guided by a faculty supervisor, students are given the opportunity to self-reflect in a cross-cultural context and grow academically, professionally, personally and civically. Concepts learned in the classroom are critically applied to ongoing service with local associations. Along the duration of the program, students are required to attend introductory classes, complete 100 hours of service, return weekly journals and regularly attend group meetings.

“This week was my first official week in the classroom at the Guido Alessi School. I walked to school and observed/worked in the classroom from 9:15-12:15. When I first arrived, the language barrier was immediately known because I had to communicate with the secretary who did not speak English. Once I got to the room, the students were all ecstatic. They were told that Stephanie and I would be coming and they all had a lot of questions.

Last week I started to realize that I wanted to become more of a teacher than an observer in the class. I was able to help with a lesson in class that put me in that position. I had the students fill in sentences about themselves. It started with their name, nationality, favorite animal, and where they go to school. Then, I went around with Stephanie and we interviewed each student and helped them with their pronunciation. I want to continue to try to take small lessons!”

– Grace M., AIFS Abroad in Rome, Italy alum from Manhattan College
Valencia, Spain
Valencia, Spain

5. Valencia, Spain

Spain’s coastal city of Valencia is a great place to study abroad! The city has embraced innovation, epitomized by the futuristic architecture of La Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias, Europe’s largest cultural complex and park, built on the former riverbed. You’ll find Valencia’s rich heritage around every corner, but it’s especially evident in the historic Carmen neighborhood, the art nouveau Central Market, and La Lonja, a 15th-century silk exchange, showcasing the seamless blend of old and new. Indulge in authentic paella, invented in Valencia, and experience the lively spectacle of Las Fallas, one of Spain’s grandest festivals, during spring semester.

The city stands as a beacon in community service, with consistent dedicated efforts towards social welfare and cultural enrichment. Through collaborative initiatives involving local government, nonprofits, and civic organizations, Valencia actively fosters inclusivity and enhances the quality of life for its residents.

Students interested in taking Service Learning or Community Service classes abroad in Valencia can study at Universidad Católica de Valencia (UCV) through AIFS Abroad. The university has quickly become an incomparable center of creativity, providing its students with a university experience of the highest quality. It seeks to facilitate a strong college community while also providing a highly personalized experience for each student. There are exciting academic and professional opportunities at UCV and learning extends far beyond the classroom. Students have access to a rich variety of community service opportunities, professional internships, clubs, associations and intercollegiate sports. Previously offered Service Learning courses have included, “Service Learning: Social Justice,” where students were introduced to the study of social justice and linked theory with practical action by participating in service placements.

Bonus: Make an Impact with an Internship Abroad

Interning abroad is your chance to do something different, learn outside of the classroom, gain work experience, earn academic credit, make lifelong friendships, and explore the world. AIFS Abroad internship programs are offered in 15 exciting international cities and in over 40 career fields overall, with internship placements available at Non-Profit Organizations and NGOs. You’ll build your resume while having the experience of a lifetime!

Social Impact Internships Abroad

These aren’t the only study abroad locations that offer opportunities for Community Service and Service Learning majors or enthusiasts.

AIFS Abroad offers study abroad and international internship programs around the world. Maybe you’ve completed your major’s requirements and are looking to explore other topics through electives, or maybe you want to go to a place where community service is built into the locals’ day-to-day life and the fabric of the city’s society. No matter your goals, we have a program to suit your needs. Volunteer and community service opportunities are available at virtually all AIFS Abroad program locations. Contact our team to learn more.

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