Everyone loves spring break – a warmly welcomed escape from reality (or from a stressful semester, a winter that just won't end, and that cold that just won't disappear).
If you've already watched all five seasons of your favorite show on Netflix and you're looking for a different way to maximize your spring break, we've got a solution: study abroad.
Didn't think it was possible to do it in 1–2 weeks? That's why we're here.
Spring break creates a great opportunity to squeeze an international experience into a 1–2 week period. This is particularly useful for students who are unable to commit to a longer period abroad for academic or financial reasons, or for those who are just unsure if they are ready for a full semester abroad.
Of course, a spring break trip will not offer the same fully immersive experience that you can expect from a semester or a year in a different country. It will, however, give you a chance to dip your toes into an international experience.
How do you find a program or opportunity?
Check with your campus study abroad office first. If they don't have available programs, check with your department office or academic advisor to see if they know of any outside opportunities specific to your studies. You can also try searching online directories and review websites like Noodle’s study abroad search engine or Abroad101. Use search queries like "spring break programs" or "Alternative Spring Break" to get a sense of what opportunities are available to you.
What kinds of options are out there?
Alternative Spring Break
Alternative Spring Break is a common term used for service-based programs. These programs offer opportunities to volunteer in a foreign country. Some schools or community organizations offer this as a group trip (with people you know); others will seek individuals looking to go abroad, and will form a group once you arrive at your destination. These programs are often in destinations like Latin America and the Caribbean due to their proximity. No matter which kind of Alternative Spring Break you choose, these programs are a great way to make a positive impact on a local community.
More schools and universities are offering the option to take a course abroad during spring break. These are sometimes offered as a travel component to an existing academic course. Other times, schools will offer a full course that you can complete in 1–2 weeks while abroad. Credit transfer depends on your university, so check with your advisor or study abroad office before you commit.
If your university doesn't offer courses or accept credits for a week abroad, you can still make the most of your spring break! Research immersive language courses in your destination country. In just about any city, you can find schools designed to help foreigners learn the local language. These schools will often help you create a custom program designed to fit your budget and time frame.
Even though you may not get academic credit for your experience, the language skills you develop while abroad will help you in future courses or opportunities. And don't forget that you're in a new city! Meet locals, go sightseeing, and find ways to make the most of your time abroad. We recommend you bring a friend!
No matter which option you choose, we advise you to make a plan in advance. Identify a point person to contact with any questions or problems while traveling, especially if you are traveling independently. Be responsible for yourself, and be prepared for the challenges (as well as the benefits!) of visiting a different country.
The best thing about spring break study abroad is that you can go any year! It's often recommended that students studying abroad for a full semester do so their junior year (after establishing a major and getting acclimated to campus lifestyle), but the short-term nature of spring break programs means you won’t be missing out on any campus opportunities! If you're planning your own trip, or volunteering abroad, go any year … or every year!
If you've studied abroad, tell the world about your experience by submitting your own review to Abroad101.
Happy hunting, happy travels, and happy spring break!