The Inside Scoop: CIEE’s Open Campus vs. traditional study abroad

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College Study Abroad

Study abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and you want to pick the program that is perfect for you. But which is right for you? CIEE’s Open Campus Block program or one of our traditional semester-long study abroad programs? Let’s break these two down to help you make your decision. 

Mobility vs. One Home

With CIEE’s Open Campus Block program, you design your own study abroad experience to include up to three countries in 18 weeks. You can spend six weeks studying in Paris, fly to Rome for six weeks, then finish your study abroad in Cape Town. You can stay in one location the entire time, or switch locations after a block. Open Campus is THAT flexible. With traditional semester study abroad programs, you have the same home for the entire term and get to truly immerse yourself in that country’s culture. It comes down to this … do you prefer to dig in and get settled, or are you more of a jet-setter?

Big global cities vs. Cities in all sizes

Traditional CIEE semester study abroad programs are offered in more than 40 locations — some in big cities, some in small towns. Small towns are perfect for those that want to get immersed into local culture in a more manageable way. Don’t fret – small towns don’t mean small possibilities. There are still plenty of cities to travel to on the weekends and ways to develop meaningful relationships with locals. If city life is for you, try Open Campus! The program offers 14 locations in some big, dynamic international cities. You’ll get to hop around multicultural cities, meet a variety of people, and frequently experience new restaurants, cafes, museums, and entertainment.

6-week blocks vs. Semester

Open Campus is built on 6-week blocks so students on all budgets and academic calendars can take part. Whether you’re a quarter student looking for a spring/summer abroad, or someone who can only spare six weeks away from campus, Open Campus Block program has the flexibility you need. Want to study abroad for a full semester in one location and direct enroll in a local university? There are more than 100 traditional semester programs to choose from.

Six-week courses vs. Semester-long courses

Open Campus lets students choose coursework across disciplines. Students take two courses per block, and because each block is a semester’s worth of content, the schedule and amount of content is intensive. Attendance is mandatory and to avoid falling behind, students shouldn’t plan extensive travel until the block ends. Traditional semester study abroad is a semester’s worth of content just like at your home university, although students will discover different teaching styles that require more self-discipline and initiative than they may be used to. Professors expect students to study outside of classes, and attendance is also mandatory. Traditional semester study abroad does give you the ability to travel on weekends though.

Lots of co-curricular activities

No matter which program you choose, both Open Campus and traditional semester programs offer frequent co-curricular activities, day trips, overnight excursions, and comparative learning opportunities. These are all designed to complement your academics and bring your coursework to life. You’ll find yourself strolling through art museums, watching sporting events with locals, traveling to scenic and historical regions outside the host city, cooking traditional foods, and much more. There are numerous new and fun immersive activities each week to give you to the chance to learn and have the most memorable experience in your host country.

Now that you’ve gotten an in-depth look at what both programs have to offer, which will you choose? CIEE’s Open Campus program or traditional study abroad?