USA

CSA - Center for Study Abroad

I recently used CSA services to study in Hamburg, Germany. My experience was very positive, and CSA provided me with my confirmation documents in a timely manner, as well as confirmed my housing. I even received a 10% discount on the tuition, which saved me a bit. CSA program fee includes administrative costs, but it is still much less than many other program providers. Nothing is for free ! And I found their prompt services to be very useful and convenient. CSA services made it "easy" to study abroad to Hamburg !

Also, I have noticed that this website - Abroad Reviews - provides a platform for people to post complaints. Keep in mind that some of these whiners may not have a just cause...and simply want to vent about something they are mostly responsible for...not necessarily the program provider's fault. In general, American's are still the worst "travelers" worldwide....the most complainers....and most spoiled....of all tourists worldwide !

Program: Study Abroad
Location: USA
Posted: Apr 26, 2013
Overall:
9
Support:
8
Value:
10

Comments

you sound like you work for the company. No one would think to even write what you did at the end if they didn't have a stake in your business. Also, you said Americans are the worst, but it says you are from the USA...what? I never received a 10% discount on my tuition... more like 200% overcharge....Sorry to bother you, but if you didn't take so much of people's money, and actually did something they couldn't do themselves, your customers would be happier. Pretty simple-- actually help your clients! Don't use them!

AFS

We are right now experiencing the same kind of situation that others have talked about, where a student was abruptly pulled from the home over a fairly minor issue, that could have easily been resolved with some guidance from AFS. The student made the unlucky choice of calling his liaison for help one day, and the next day found himself being picked up from school with his belongings and whisked off to a new family in another town. My children were heartbroken and filled with self-blame for what they could have done to cause this situation. Although we were advised by AFS to break all contact with the student, so he could start his "new life" elsewhere, we have followed his saga on Facebook, where he has poured out his frustration, anger and despair over being uprooted from his family and friends here, and his continued attempts, over the past 3 months, to return to our town. He has even rallied the support of his friends at his high school here, having them sign petitions supporting his attempts to return here. AFS seems to have turned a deaf, bureaucratic ear to his pleas. I think AFS simply does not have the staff to deal with situations of any kind of complexity. It is so sad for the student, who will remember for the rest of his life that his experience in America was marred like this. And sad for my children, who feel that the wonderful experience of having an AFS student somehow failed, for reasons they do not quite understand.

Program:
Location: USA
Posted: Apr 17, 2013
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

Global Crossroad

A great experience. I enjoyed the mixture of volunteering in clinics, villages, and orphanages. I would have enjoyed going back to the villages and orphanages more than once to have follow up with patients and make sure they were getting the care that they needed. I recommend that the living situation improve for volunteers- such as clean outhouses or improved access to water to flush toilets. A backup generator and increase in backup water supply would help improve the sanitary conditions at the hostel. Our hosts did a great job at coordinating our volunteering experience.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: USA
Posted: Feb 27, 2013
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
8

AFS

I have experienced AFS both as a parent of a student sent to a year long program in Germany as well as a liaison for students visiting the US. I have found the AFS teams in both countries to be responsive in supporting a variety of activities as well as providing guidance in times of need. In Germany, my son had several liaisons connect his transition to a new country and a new language. Someone was always available to him and he found friends in the AFS chapters as well as the people he met through school and community activities.
Personally, I have enjoyed the people and students of AFS and my family has been given the opportunity to connect with other cultures. I would recommend the AFS program without hesitation.

Program: Gap Year
Location: USA
Posted: Feb 21, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Visions Service Adventures

I spent this past summer in Montana, on the Blackfeet Native American Reservation right by Glacier National Park. To say it was beautiful, both physically and spiritually, would be misleading - there are no words for how absolutely stunning every moment was. It was eye-opening. It's an experience I'll always look back on with fondness. It definitely changed me inside and out.

I woke up every morning ready to go go go! Breakfast, always. Nothing like home-cooking. And perpetual oatmeal. And then we were gone - wind or rain, hot or cold, we were out doing our stuff.

I loved working on the construction site (clambering on roof rafters!) and getting involved in the culture (playing with all the little kids! I forget how many piggyback rides I gave) all around me. I've never before felt such a strong, deep, outstanding connection to anyone or anything. Taking 11 mile hikes, swimming in icy cold lakes, rock climbing, and camping only added to the fun.

It was almost surreal - for one month, I was free to be whoever I wanted to be and do whatever I wanted to do (within reason...). I was free to just explore. It was a safe place where you could be unsafe, if that makes sense. I can't thank everyone I was in Montana with me for that opportunity. And I still keep in touch with the kids I met!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: USA
Posted: Feb 9, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

CSA - Center for Study Abroad

DO NOT USE THEM!!! They don't do anything that you can't do on your own. The "deposit" they request is actually just a payment to them and not a "deposit" at all. I am studying in Paris and I found out I could've done everything they did for free through the Sorbonne website. Avoid this company at all costs and just go through the steps on your own. Complete waste of money and the wording is very deceptive. When I confronted them about it they were completely unhelpful. Also after I was accepted and paid my "deposit" I noticed that the majority of the good reviews from CSA are written in the same style as the emails that I received from the company (I don't think that it's a coincidence).

Program: Study Abroad
Location: USA
Posted: Jan 22, 2013
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

Comments

CSA is legit ! They provide a good service. I used them twice to go to France and Spain, and CSA saved me much time and was also very flexible to pay my balance. Confirmation docs were sent very quickly. While at the Sorbonne in Paris....staff there told me they have worked with CSA for over 20 years. This person - Sarah - seems to be a big whiner......and makes us fellow-American's look bad and spoiled !
CSA provided everything I needed in a timely manner at low cost. I would use them again, and recommend them to anyone wanting to save time and money in arranging a study abroad program. Much better to use CSA services....than sign up with an expensive, packaged program !
I am not at all happy with this company!!!! UNHELPFUL is the word. This is exactly what I am going through right now and it is frustrating!!! Alima, in the comments below is defending the company as a customer but is actually the person who refuses to reply to questions outside of payment direction - "Sincerley, Alima K. Virtue Program Director (EZ Direct) Center For Study Abroad studycsa@aol.com" I tried to get some answers last month and it tooks weeks to get a reply beyond payment direction. When I asked the person I actually talked to on the phone (after weeks of leaving voice mails) what they have to offer if I can't get a hold of anyone - Why go through you? I asked and she said, "I should ask you that question." Now I ask, "What is going on here?" Thumbs down to CSA!!
Heather sounds like a real whiner. I have traveled abroad many times since my first time with CSA. I have to say, that American's are still the worst travelers....always complaining. Used CSA to study in Germany. They are a good discount program provider. You get what you pay for......and too many of my fellow young American's expect "free services". CSA is a much better option (less expensive) than many other providers. Thank you CSA.....I enjoyed the program in Hamburg ! Keep providing "Budget Study Abroad - EZ Direct" services. Also....I have noticed that this website - Abroad Reviews - is not to be taken seriously. Some of the postings you see are not really verified. Not really a useful website....more of a place where students vent (whine) about their own mistakes......again, just another complaining American !

Visions Service Adventures

I've worked 8 sessions for Visions and there's a reason I keep coming back. The goals of the program really reasonate with me. We get to live in one community all summer and get to know people, the area, and become truly integrated in the short time we have. We do service projects that are chosen by the community and often get to work side by side with people who live there. The kids that choose a Visions program are people that really appreciate getting to know others and spend their summer doing service work, and those are kids I like spending my time with! Visions is a WONDERFUL program. I love it. :)

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa, Asia, Central America, USA
Posted: Jan 15, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

AFS

We hosted a student. Initially the experience was exciting. The volunteers were responsive. But early on there was tension in the family. We were encouraged to work it out - a good suggestion. But then the student said she did not think it would get better. Without helping her figure out how she could tell us the problem they moved her. They -the liaison and her supervisor never helped us talk about the problems. She never talked to me about what the problems were. They just remove red her from the house without regards to anyone's feelings. This student could have learned so much about negotiating relationships but did not. I then spoke with the liason's supervisor. She was no help. She just dismissed the issue. I realize that some kids who were in the exchange program experienced something awful. But even with this small problem I think they did a dis-service to us as a host family and the student. I will not recommend AFS to anyone.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: USA
Posted: Oct 25, 2012
Overall:
2
Support:
1
Value:
1

Comments

We had a very similar problem with AFS not working effectively to support families and resolve differences. AFS says that switching families is a last resort but what we saw was it is almost a first resort to just make any problem disappear for a time. AFS host families are not involved in the discussion to move, they just swoop in and out of your family with little notice in their comings and goings. It is not very good for a family, but we figured the boy's happiness is more important than ours so we didn't say much (although AFS doesn't ask either). Once we got wind that our student was not happy from AFS and he was proposing a move, we finally just left our student do pretty much whatever he wanted. Had we done that from the start, we probably would have kept our student, but then I don't think we would have been very good parents. At least not what I would have wanted for my child if he was overseas. In our situation, within a month of arriving, our student made a buddy from a much wealthier household that was more in keeping with his high lifestyle. Our student complained to them about our rules and our cooking (which was less rich than he was used too). They in turn complained to AFS and even called the host parents to see if they couldn't take him. The problem seemed to start with my wife requiring from the beginning that he needed to let us know of his comings and goings and he needed to introduce us to his friends so we could look out for him. We didn't have to restrict any though but we did know where he was at. He didn't like this, but we persisted because we had an exchange student the previous year that was very deceptive. After he spent a whole year with us we found out he did alot of drinking and sex with his school friends. Some Europeans, especially among the rich, don't have many morals this way and sadly some of our American school children don't either. We were determined not to let this happen again under our watch. Both boys fit in well while at home with our other children, but were difficult as teens are with maintaining rules at times outside the home. Our first exchange student dealt with our rules with apparent compliance and a generally pleasant demeanor. We thought we had a pretty good year until we learned more about his activities after he left. Our second student dealt with it through endless and often exaggerated complaining from the start to anyone who would listen. We believed the complaints to be pretty unjustified but would have been willing to try to work at it if we would have been informed of it in a straight-forward, truthful way either by the student or AFS. AFS did eventually tell us what they thought was going on but by that time the decision was made by "someone" in AFS that our families just didn't match and that they planned on moving the student to his buddy's family with the complaining mom to try to make him happy. It took them about a month to get their paperwork processed for the new family and he stayed with us for that time so we figured AFS wasn't too concerned. AFS supposedly lists us as a good family yet, but still we felt robbed of an opportunity to help this student with his life. But maybe that is the problem, we were trying to help a student that just wanted his own way. In the end, this exchange program isn't about being a parent for an exchange student as much as AFS is about trying to show even a spoiled teen a good time in the states. We actually really liked having both students in our home, it was just some of what they did outside our home that was troubling to us and the way AFS handles complaints from these teens. This last student was supposedly from a "good" family. I was surprised when the student told me in the end that his parents fought constantly, were very profain, the father was seeing a phsycholgist for depression and had used alcohol and drugs, but they were all very wealthy. None of that was in the application. In those last days it also surprised me what our student told me he had learned from our family in the couple months he was with us. It was very good, as our family does not have problems in some of the areas that challenge his family. We do have some rules though and we are middle-class. I don't think he was yet making the connection between some rules and the things he did like most about our family. I think AFS just allowed too easy a way out for this student and didn't involve us in trying to resolve anything. AFS says they support host families but this was just about non-existant. We won't do AFS again and I don't know if we would do an exchange program again without knowing much more information about the family the student is coming from and what their real motives are for sending their son or daughter to the U.S. My oldest two children have studied abroad while in college and it was valuable, but after a couple high school exchange students, I think they are too young to be without their parents guidance. I think as long as you let the AFS-student do whatever they really want you won't have many problems, the problem is that many teens are not able to handle this well until later in life. In the end, I was left feeling very disappointed in AFS too as you are.
I read your reply and found we had a similar experience. It is a shame because the student could learn SO much. I did go to the liason's supervisor. It was clear the liason spoke with this woman. She was dismissive for she did not even take my name and get details of the problem. So she had no intention of using this situation to improve the skills of the liason. I will go to this woman's supervisor but will be surprised if anything happens. I guess you live and learn.

Amistad Institute

With the program offer by Amity Institue you can spend one year teaching your language in USA.

For me was a great experience not only becouse I could meet so many people and learn about the american culture also becouse I learn so many English.

The host family was just amazing and the experience was totally advisable.

You just need to pay for your flight and thats it, you can live one year in the US

Program: Study Abroad
Location: USA
Posted: Oct 2, 2012
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
9

Mente Argentina

Mente Argentina helped me to have a great experience in Buenos Aires. They found me a cute apartment in the most popular neighborhood in Buenos Aires. The location was great since it was close to all the coolest, funkiest restaurants, bars, and shopping. My intensive Spanish classes were very helpful. I learned so many things each day I went to class. My internship taught me a lot about the way the Argentine people do business. I learned about import/export regulations in Argentina, which is very important at this time. I met a ton of like-minded people who were travelling to Buenos Aires to gain a new perspective of South America. I met many people, in the activities organized by Mente, that I'm sure will be life-long friends. All in all, my experience in Buenos Aires was not only fun but educational and character building as well. I couldn't have done it without Mente!

Program: Study Abroad
Location: USA
Posted: Aug 28, 2012
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
8

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