Study Abroad

Forum Nexus

I thoroughly enjoyed the program and would definitely participate again. I made a lot of new friends and loved all the cities especially Paris and Riva del Garda.

As for academics, International IQ was fun and engaging and my knowledge definitely improved. The Art History class was interesting and truly helped me to gain a greater appreciation for art and its history in Europe. ICVs are also a great way of experiencing Europe.

It's a wonderful experience that really changes your life and that's why I would recommend it to everyone!

Program: Study Abroad
Location:
Posted: Jan 30, 2024
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Forum Nexus

Forum-Nexus has been one of the best experiences in my life. I took one regular class and Ed is a great professor and he cared about everyone in class. I also took a marketing internship and I loved everyone I worked with. Through the internship I got to speak with marketing personnel across all different cities as well as handle the company's social media accounts during the program. I also helped with marketing research.
I enjoyed all the cities of the program. This was a great opportunity to experience all of Europe!

Program: Study Abroad
Location:
Posted: Jan 8, 2024
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Forum Nexus

I am so happy I came on this trip as I have gone to so many cool places, made great friends, and had so much fun! I loved every city we went to and I feel like I learned so much in class while still having the time to explore the cities.
I think this was a great program. While the constant moving was a bit hard, we made it fun!
The professors and staff made everything so great. Hugo is so much fun and really cares about the students. Nadine is so nice, chill and so organized, she's amazing! Ed was so kind, fun and knowledgeable!

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Worldwide
Posted: Dec 17, 2023
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Forum Nexus

I'm very happy I chose to participate as I got to see so many countries and made friends with a bunch of new people. I had a great time exploring Europe and learning about its culture. Amsterdam was my favourite!
Professor Ed clearly loves what he teaches and and has a deep passion for history. I learned a lot about the EU which also helped me explore the countries better. The Independent Cultural Visits were the best part about classes as it made me do more exploration in my free time.
The program director is very fun, energetic and lively.

Program: Study Abroad
Location:
Posted: Nov 28, 2023
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Forum Nexus

Forum-Nexus is a very interesting program with amazing professors. The program blends in academics and fun in the most perfect way. I got to visit more than 7 European cities in 1 month so that's unbeatable. And the accommodation was perfectly chosen so we're always at easy access to everything in the cities.
I took one class on cultural intelligence and the professor was very knowledgeable and full of energy. Professional visits were also great!
I met so many great students, learned so much and experienced so much!

Program: Study Abroad
Location:
Posted: Nov 1, 2023
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Forum Nexus

Forum-Nexus was so fun and the best way to go abroad!! Because of covid spiking early in the year, FN decided to stay in 1 country for the summer, but we traveled to multiple cities and it was amazing! I love that the program is (usually) multi-country and multi-city, because you can see so much of the world and experience different cultures. This summer we went to Rome, Florence, Milan, Lake Garda, and Venice. It was so fun and each city was so different. We also were able to go on weekend trips if we wanted and I went to Croatia which was so cool. The professors are so nice and accommodating. Yes, you have school work but it is manageable and they understand that traveling the world and new experiences outside of the classroom are important too. You have the freedom to do what you want in your free-time. The professional visits were also really cool! They are to interesting places like the Gucci Museum in Florence and a gelato factory in Bergamo. The hotels were also super nice and the breakfast was so good too. I traveled with some high school friends and FN accommodated us so we were in a room for 3 every time and we all had a bed, not a cot or anything. Thank you Forum-Nexus for the best summer ever!

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Italy
Posted: Aug 4, 2022
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

AFS

Full disclosure, I have been a volunteer for AFS on and off for over 30 years. I was an exchange student myself with the program in the 1980's and I had a wonderful experience. I was in contact with my host family until they passed a few years ago. Until this year, I would have highly recommended the program. I can't any longer.

Three years ago, I hosted a wonderful German girl when I lived in Florida. We are still in touch today. I consider her my bonus "daughter." The next year, I was a liaison for another German student and her host family. That also went well.

However, I moved out of Florida to a different state and have had the worst experience with this AFS chapter in my new location. I've never seen so much incompetence and inability to help myself, or the student.

My student's liaison is a wonderful man, but his hands have been tied by others in the chapter. Many volunteers are elderly and have been involved with AFS for 40+ years, which on paper should be good, but their inability to move with the times has hurt the organization.

I was very excited to host again and picked a student from a Scandinavian country. She and I spoke frequently via social media prior to her coming. I set down expectations and rules and she agreed to them. I remodeled her room, bought new furniture all with her approval as I wanted her to feel welcome. There was a snafu with her visa, so she arrived a little late. After arriving, we went on a family vacation, which had been pre-planned. She was ungrateful the entire time, speaking to her boyfriend on social media nearly 24/7 and refusing to engage with anyone. I contacted her liaison and we spoke to her. I figured getting him involved early on would help with the adjustment. It did not. She made the minimum effort to follow his advice, and my house rules.

While she did well at school, made some friends, her attitude in the home was not good. She was put on a behavioral contract a MONTH after her arrival. I had hoped this would help. For like a month it seemed to work and she broke up with the boyfriend, then the non-compliance began again. (Eating in her room, staying out after curfew, bad attitude, not helping with chores, etc.) Typical teenage stuff. Her liaison and I seemingly spoke on a weekly basis. He had hosted a student from that country and it had not gone well either. So, I felt he was on my side and listening to me. However, AFS support staff were not.

Unknown to me, my student had asked to be moved after she manipulated a field trip to another city with other AFSers. Her main complaint was my town was "too small" and everyone in it was a basically a "hick." She wanted to be in a bigger city around other exchange students. (Even though there was a German girl in her high school from another exchange program). She knew she was coming to a small Mid-Western town, but she couldn't adjust. Her constant usage of social media did not help as she felt jealous of other students in bigger cities who got to hang out with each other. She was obsessed with being online, even during eating dinner, she'd be on her phone.

During this trip, she spoke to the president and vice-president of the chapter, but I was never given an update on the situation and how they were dealing with her obvious unhappiness. I felt left out of the loop. This had NEVER happened to me in Florida as that state's president is very transparent.

Then, my student got Covid and refused to comply with standard quarantine stuff in the home, exposing us to catching it. (We didn't, but that's because we were vigilant, not her). Despite multiple talks about why this was important, she did not listen. After much consideration, we decided she was not a good fit for our family and also asked she be moved. Perhaps another family would be better? Normally in those situations, the student is moved to a temporary family while a new family is found.

After she was moved out, we found out she had been lying about us on social media for months. Stating that we never fed her, complaining about us not leaving the house to go anywhere. I guess those trips out-of-state slipped her mind? And generally being an ungrateful "drama queen" about everything.

Normally, I would have chalked this up to a privileged, spoiled child and moved on. However, it was AFS's response that has now put us off ever hosting again. They thought it was no big deal if she said we "starved" her. Or if we got investigated by CPS. Finally, support staff was able to get her to admit she had lied about that and she wrote an apology letter. But this was only after we threatened legal action.

Later, we found out our student had an eating disorder. It was in her medical file but not shown to us until AFTER she arrived. There were also mental health issues but again, we were never told. I had never seen such a lack of vetting by AFS in all my years of volunteering. This was a student who never should have been approved to come in the first place.

My family and I are deeply saddened that we will probably never host again. We love our German girl, I loved my host family and because of my years of volunteering I could have said this was just a bad fit. But now knowing that this student had serious mental health issues and AFS allowed her to come anyway...I cannot recommend them any longer.

Be very careful using this organization. Ask for all pertinent information regarding your student is you decide to host. If I as a LONG-TERM volunteer wasn't told everything, expect you will not be either.

Program: Study Abroad
Location: USA
Posted: Jan 2, 2022
Overall:
3
Support:
2
Value:
3

AFS

Where do I begin?

As so many have written, I believe that the structure that AFS is currently running on is the core issue of the whole entire program.

Firstly, come two weeks before the students were to arrive we got a frantic email asking for host families for 4 students who didn't have families and also didn't have visa. (That should have been my first clue). We signed up, due to a family member of ours going on exchange when they were in high school, and went through the process.

There was delay after delay with our host student, mostly due to AFS's inadequate planning and back-boning their whole entire operation on volunteers. Three weeks delayed our host student arrived.

We had no support with how to navigate putting our students into classes, we had no support with how book lists and school supplies worked. I ended up having to shell out the over 800.00 to buy everything -- luckily we got that paid back. I also had to question and demand that AFS pay for school fees as they started to 'pick and choose' which required fees they were going to pay.

Beyond that, the year was a complete joke. They had absolutely no travel policy that was clear, transparent and in my opinion safe for the students. They want to know everywhere that the students are going to be staying 4 weeks in advance, but have no online system for booking travel and no outline chain of command. In our intake packet, which again needs to be greatly overhauled, I had absolutely, no idea to contact for what. In fact, when I spoke to someone at the corporate office, they said that the volunteers were the ones to approve travel first. So, parents are paying upwards of 20k aud to send their kids overseas and volunteers are approving of and managing the travel of minors under AFS care. Does not seem safe. I voiced my concerns, and honestly nothing changed.

This was on top of students then having to pay an additional 2250.00 for a 10 day Aussie outback trip which was planned during the last 4 weeks of term before exams. Now most students don't need marks for their schooling, but some do. They almost couldn't run it this year, because they couldn't get the numbers.

The two camps that were provided by AFS were so lack-luster. They actually did nothing, have no cultural excursions (beyond going to the zoo), did not incorporate anything Indigenous in their camps and left our student in such a filthy camp in November that none of the students showered for two days. I again fed back places that AFS could spend money on to take students on Australian and/or cultural exchanges. Again, these camps are run by volunteers and not overseen by corporate for the most part.

At the end of the program, I asked about 'returning home' support that they give to students, as nothing had been sent to me and/or my student and/or her natural family. I actually got something from corporate -- but I wouldn't have had I not asked. I was told that they covered stuff at the November camp (2 months before my student left) but it wasn't true. In the email, the volunteer leader admitted that although they had a PowerPoint created they didn't actually follow it on the weekend. The information they did follow had nothing to do with 're-entry'.

As a provider of educational study abroad programs, I would NOT recommend them at all. Luckily we did not have any issues with our student -- but I know so many students who had ongoing issues with their host families. There was no ongoing support for the students except random phone calls from AFS volunteers that the students didn't really know. I also got 1 phone call from someone who I had never met before. It's so horribly ran.

Beyond all of this, it cost us a fortune. We knew that this was the case, but had we not done the things that we did with our student she would have had a long and boring 10 months as AFS pretty much does nothing with the students excpet two camps in 10 months.

My biggest concern for AFS is the legal loopholes and gaps that they are opening themselves up to. It won't be long until something tragic happens and/or they can't find host families anymore.

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Australia
Posted: Feb 3, 2020
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

University Studies Abroad Consortium

First off, I 110% recommend attending a study abroad program in Italy, especially in Turin. It is the ideal immersive mix between academics and travel, has many renowned universities, a strong culture and is practically located in the center of Europe. HOWEVER, I STRONGLY caution against attending any USAC study abroad program, and I will outline why below.

Firstly, the program is rather costly, and costs more than a typical semester at any regular university, with very little opportunity for study or financial aid, especially if you go on a program outside your main university.

Secondly, you never know which staff members you will receive based on a certain location, but typically, the highest-ranking of the staff and of the entire consortium tend to be dry, unhelpful, and needlessly and excessively punitive. Your entire academic performance and transcripts for the semesters attended are essentially in the hands of a very strict, indignant, and ultimately unreasonable group of people. For example, if you happen to get sick (as I did, after coming down with a terrible illness) and miss more than one day in any given class, you can expect to get -2% OFF YOUR ENTIRE GRADE! That's right - 2% off the ENTIRE grade, not simply for "attendance" or any other percentage of the grade - this is even including a doctor's note. That's right, you could practically get hit by a bus, not be able to walk, and if you were in the hospital abroad and didn't happen to waddle your way over to class on crutches for an elective course, you can kiss any chance of getting a good grade in that class goodbye.

This example might seem excessive, however, they firmly ensure that there are no exceptions. Beyond that, I personally was denied any recommendation of a grade appeal, actually, the staff told me that there is nothing I can do, and the decision was final. This was ultimately a lie - there was a grade appeal process, and the window for it can close rather quickly, depending on what semester you are attending. USAC wants to put your academic career at risk and are the opposite of advocates for students, simply so they won't have to deal with your complaints. These transcripts go through American universities, so if you were hypothetically a diligent student otherwise, you can expect USAC to absolutely ruin/tarnish your transcript with their draconian policies. Do you really want to pay over $8000 to be treated like this by a place that isn't even a real university?

My main contention is that this type of punishment is practically unheard of in real, reputed universities. I have attended a few universities by way of transfer, and some community colleges. Typically, if ever there is a punishment for attendance, typically it only factors into a portion of the grade (let's say a weight of 10-20% at most). Beyond that, real, reputable universities accept medical forms and other official documents for excused absences. USAC is a consortium, meaning they are their own separate subgroup with their own strange academic system, however, they override any administrative decision made in the universities they contract, so they are the ones who determine the outcome of your grades.

As a caveat, the vast majority of professors I had in this program were amazing and knowledgable. Most of them were highly cultured and educated locals, and I am excluding them from this review. Some staff members are also local, and many are increasingly kind and helpful. This is primarily to warn you about how you will be treated institutionally by USAC.

I went on this program primarily because it was the only one available in this location that was relevant to my line of study. Hopefully, more competition will be created to allow foreigners to travel and study in main hubs in Italy like Turin and Milan, but for now, I would really recommend a program that at least has accountability with a university. That way, if you run into any issues abroad, you are not at the mercy of a consortium with increasingly uncommon academic procedures and a lack of common sense.

I encourage you to deeply research the policies of any study abroad program before attending, and if you really want to be taken care of and represented in a foreign country, choose another program.

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Italy
Posted: Dec 20, 2019
Overall:
4
Support:
2
Value:
4

AFS

We are currently hosting for our third year. The first year we used different agency but found that it did not meet our needs. For example we traveled 2 hours to go to an orientation only to get there and find that the date changed and no one told us.

So after much research we choose to try AFS - WOW! We love it.

Each year we attend a mandatory Host Family Orientation. I would say that yes we feel that we went once - why do we have to do it each year. Then we think it is a great way for AFS to get to know us better and we can help those who are hosting for the first time and you never know you might hear something that will benefit you and your family.

AFS does require the students to attend a few mandatory meetings. No it is not always convenient, but we feel it is in the best interest of the students. It gives them time to talk with fellow students are experiencing the same things that they are.

There are certain Federal Regulations that agencies are suppose to adhere to, here is a link: http://www.csfes.org/NPR_Story.html

I admired AFS and their vast number of volunteers for helping students have the best experience possible. Is it perfect? Of course not, but it does seem that they have the best interest of the student in mind.

Some agencies get paid for each student they place and bonuses for the amount of time the student stays, etc. That was our last agency.

Our belief is that if they people our volunteers then they are doing it because they are wanting to help others and there is no financial motivation involved.

We have had 6 wonderful students from Scandinavian and European countries and consider all of them to be our children. We will go to visit all of them next year and look forward to being a part of their lives always.

It is my belief that all agencies have their flaws. AFS does have flaws, but I would and do recommend it to anyone who is interested in hosting.

There is a Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students. This is one of the resources I used to choose the agency that was a good fit for my family.
http://www.csfes.org/home.html

Program: Study Abroad
Location: USA
Posted: Dec 13, 2019
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
10

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