The benefits of studying abroad with an all-inclusive program

Jasmine Zahedi | Daily Trojan

Jasmine Zahedi | Daily Trojan

Studying with Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) in Shanghai, I’ve learned the benefits of all-inclusive study abroad programs. CIEE offers many study abroad locations around the world, so even if USC doesn’t list a certain city as an option, you can probably apply through CIEE and request approval from USC. Here’s why I’m such a fan of CIEE, or at least CIEE Shanghai.

1. Tuition is significantly lower than USC’s tuition
Tuition costs certainly vary by city, but studying abroad in Shanghai only costs $14,774 for the semester. My parents were actually excited about me going abroad because it’s saving them so much money. In addition, the tuition fee covers way more than just tuition; it’s actually called a program fee because it covers tuition, housing, field trips, a visa and books. The only additional costs I incurred were airfare, insurance, food and local transportation.

2. Organized trips
So far I’ve only been on a weekend trip to Huangshan, a beautiful mountain range about seven hours outside of Shanghai. However, based on that trip, I can’t wait to spend a week in Sichuan hanging out with pandas as part of another CIEE trip. During my trip to Huangshan, I didn’t have to worry about a single thing. CIEE covered our transportation, housing, meals and activities for the entire weekend. For the program’s weeklong trips, which range from Taiwan to Hong Kong to the Silk Road to Sichuan, CIEE again takes care of everything. In addition, throughout the semester CIEE offers various all-inclusive field trips, including a Huangpu river cruise and a trip to the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum.

3. Full-time support
Whenever I have a question or need something, there is always someone from CIEE to help. Some staff members even double as RAs in the dorms. My residence permit actually arrived in the mail only two days before a Chinese national holiday, and CIEE made sure that I received it by personally delivering it to my dorm room.

4. Airport pick-up and drop-off
One of the best parts of this program, though seemingly insignificant, was the fact that there were buses waiting to take us to the dorms from the airport when we arrived, and they will have buses taking us to the airport when December rolls around. Nothing’s better than not having to worry about how to get a location in an unfamiliar city with all your luggage.

5. Small classes
Class size obviously depends on program enrollment, but CIEE Shanghai makes a concerted effort to keep classes small. My language class previously had 14 students, but CIEE deemed this unacceptable and split it into two sections. Additionally, area studies courses have a maximum of 25 students. Having small classes has been really beneficial in learning the language as well as getting to know professors and students in my classes.