What Is First Year Abroad?

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First Year Abroad

If you’ve never heard the phrase “first year abroad” before, it might seem confusing. If you’re thinking it sounds like “study abroad” but slightly different, you’re on the right path!  

Let’s dive into all things first year abroad to help you better understand the concept and why we’re so excited for you to learn more.  

Defining First Year Abroad 

A study abroad program simply refers to an experience students can live, where they travel for a given number of weeks or months and take classes in a foreign country. At CIEE, it also includes experiences that will help bridge the gap between cultures and inspire international collaboration. That’s pretty big stuff. 

As the newest program in CIEE’s robust portfolio of global experiential learning options, first year abroad is a way for high school grads to start their college careers abroad. Essentially, a freshman study abroad program (or for a semester of freshman year). 

Instead of spending your first semester, or first year, taking courses on a U.S. college campus, you’ll get to spend it in a different country, taking in everything that a new environment has to offer. Just like how a college study abroad program works in your later college years, during your first year abroad, you’ll earn credits toward your degree and experience the world. Think of it as a freshman study abroad program. Talk about a win-win.  

First year abroad programs are the perfect opportunity for students looking for something different and valuable after high school; they are passionate about an international experience and education, new cultures, and adventure – and they don’t want to wait until later in college to get started. You can do it all with CIEE’s First Year Abroad.  

How Does First Year Abroad Work? 

Although, at the basic level, first year abroad programs are similar to other CIEE high school programs or college study abroad programs, there are some differences.  

When you go on a CIEE college study abroad program, you leave from your home university campus, typically as a sophomore or junior. But, when you go on CIEE First Year Abroad, you'll head straight to your international location the first day of school. While on program, you’ll be enrolled as a student at our academic partner and school of record, Dean College, a respected liberal arts college in Massachusetts. You’ll earn 12-13 credits per semester. 

Once you complete your program, you have options when you return from your travels: 

  • Go on to earn your degree at Dean College 
  • Apply to a CIEE partner college or university to ease the transfer credit process 
  • Use your international experience to impress the admission team at your dream school of choice  

First Year Abroad Programs

You’ll get to choose your first year abroad destination from 14 amazing destinations that span the world:  

Students can choose a 12-week semester in one location or 6-week blocks in two locations. You can also choose a fall semester, spring semester, or even combine both to make up a full year.  

We’re sure you also have some questions about your exciting first year abroad academics. We are enthusiastic about combining rigorous courses with unforgettable experiences outside the classroom. It’s the whole point of studying abroad – a way to deepen your understanding of the world and the subject matter you’re passionate about!  

A comprehensive academic support system also backs our first year abroad programs to help students develop the tools and skills needed for undergraduate studies.  

Students can choose from a variety of intro-level college courses, each worth 3-4 credits. Check out a few of your options:  

  • Languages: French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish 
  • Arts: Intro to Studio Art, Music Appreciation, and Art History  
  • Social Sciences: World History, Cultural Geography, and Intro to Psychology 
  • Business: Principles of Management, Microeconomics, and Macroeconomics  
  • Math: Intro to Statistics, College Algebra, and Calculus 
  • Science: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Environmental Science 
  • Others: English Composition, Computer Science, Digital Photography, and many more!  

Take your first year abroad as an opportunity to really nail down what you’re passionate about – it will be an exciting way for you to continue your studies back in the States!  

Why CIEE for First Year Abroad?  

Our Center Directors, located around the world, are seasoned international education professionals. CIEE’s Health, Safety, and Security team is an industry leader in risk assessment, mitigation, and staff training.  

In short, you’re safe with CIEE. And with decades of experience, our programs are pretty excellent if we say so ourselves.  

Don’t delay an incredible first year of college any longer – start your search today!