IES Abroad Sees Increase in Applications for South American Summer Programs

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U.S. college and university students are heading south to South America that is where unique programs, adventurous field trips and favorable exchange rates allow them to study abroad for less and do more than ever before. Applications to IES Abroad programs in South America, which are offered in Ecuador, Chile and Argentina, increased 18% for summer 2008 over last summer.

My favorite field trip was to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay, the oldest village in the country

U.S. college and university students are heading south − to South America that is − where unique programs, adventurous field trips and favorable exchange rates allow them to study abroad for less and do more than ever before. With historically high numbers of American college students studying abroad, program providers are seeing a shift in interest from typical Western European locations to more uncommon destinations. Among them, South America is enjoying surging popularity among U.S. university students. Applications to IES Abroad programs in South America, which are offered in Ecuador, Chile and Argentina, increased 18% for summer 2008 over last summer.

"Today's students are very savvy about the need for international experience, and they're seeking situations that challenge them to get out of their comfort zone," said Mary Dwyer, Ph.D., president and CEO of IES Abroad. "IES Abroad applications have increased worldwide in recent years, and we're seeing a definite trend toward non-traditional locations, especially those in South America, which provide a great academic and cultural experience at a lower cost."

The Hot Spots

Quito, Ecuador
Students who have an interest in environmental sciences, like Colgate University junior Megan Niziol, are heading to Quito, where they can spend a semester exploring Ecuador's four eco-regions - the Amazon basin, the high Andes, the coastal plain, and the Galápagos Islands. While participating in the IES Abroad Quito program, Niziol combined academic coursework with field visits to explore a range of issues related to environmental management and conservation, the
highlight of which was her trip to a biodiversity station in the Amazon. "I have always been interested in rainforest ecology," Niziol said. "Being right in the middle of a pristine rainforest, at a spot that took hours to reach by boat, was a life-changing experience for me."

On the currency front, Ecuador is one of nine countries that use the U.S. dollar, which shields students from volatile spikes or drops in exchange rates. "I definitely appreciated that things were not very expensive in Ecuador," Niziol said.

Santiago, Chile
Students can improve their Spanish skills in this metropolitan area of 5 million where they can travel to the mountains and the beach in the same day. The IES Abroad program in Santiago offers a Health Studies program, which incorporates an internship in clinical observation and the opportunity to gain hands-on practice with medical Spanish in the Chilean healthcare community. "During the Health Studies program, I was able to follow and observe doctors in a variety of medical fields in hospitals and clinics in Santiago," said Arielle LaVeaux, a University of Portland junior who participated in the IES Abroad Health Studies program in the summer of 2007. "One of the highlights of my study abroad experience was the chance to observe two births in one day. The experience has led me to believe that I want to become a labor and delivery nurse, preferably in a foreign country."

Although the dollar has seen some decline in purchasing power against the Chilean Peso, local prices continue to be significantly lower than prices for goods and services in Western Europe. "In my five months in Santiago I only spent about $1,600 out-of-pocket on recreation expenses, including trips and cultural events," said Paige Summers, a University of Santa Clara junior who participated in the IES Abroad Santiago program in fall 2007. "That was a far cry from my friends who spent three or four times as much in European countries."

Buenos Aires, Argentina
Students seeking a European study experience without the costly Euro exchange rate should consider Buenos Aires. The U.S. dollar has remained relatively strong against the Argentinean Peso, making it a great and affordable alternative to Europe. And with its wide avenues, sprawling parks, and elegant 19th century Parisian-style architecture, Buenos Aires is one of the most European cities outside of Europe.

Buenos Aires is also a great jumping off point for visiting some of the most stunning natural terrain in the world. IES Abroad students have the opportunity to visit a host of natural and historical wonders in the region including Tierra del Fuego, Los Glaciares National Park and sights in neighboring countries. "My favorite field trip was to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay, the oldest village in the country," said Taria Abram, a junior at Loyola University Chicago who participated in the IES Abroad Buenos Aires program in spring 2007. "It is one of the amazing experiences in South America I would have missed out on had I not pushed myself out of my comfort zone to try something completely different."

About IES Abroad (the Institute for the International Education of Students): One of the nation's most academically reputable organizations, IES Abroad provides study abroad programs to U.S. college and university students through more than 75 programs in Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, Australia and New Zealand. IES Abroad has educated over 65,000 students since its founding in 1950, serving students from more than 200 public and private colleges and universities, and committing $2 million in student scholarships and financial aid each year.

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