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So...What is an affiliate program anyways?

As a CEA Alumni Ambassador, most people ask me what my experience is, where I traveled and so on, but also, what the heck is an affiliate study abroad company and how is it different than studying abroad with your university. As an alum of two different CEA programs (Summer 2013 in Seville, Spain and Fall 2014 Semester in Costa Rica) and one directly through my university (Summer 2015 in France), I can sort out some of the basic questions.

What is an affiliate program?

Rather than going directly through your university study abroad office, you could choose a study abroad company that your university has an agreement with, like CEA. This means that most of your pre-departure help and your entire program abroad will be with CEA. They have onsite staff at each program site that is there to help you with anything. All of the CEA summer and semester programs have a few included trips with your study abroad experience to help introduce to the country while you are there, and also have many cultural events and activities that you can go to. You won’t necessarily have other students from your home university on your program, but will be with students from all over the States. It also gives you a lot more options on study abroad locations, times, and academics.

 My roommates and I at the farewell dinner with CEA in Seville (left) & Some friends and I on a CEA excursion in Costa Rica (right)!

If I go with my university, I’ll know people on my trip.

When you study abroad, you already have something in common with all the people you are with: you all wanted to travel and experience a culture different from your own. You may not know people on your trip if you go with CEA, but the upside is that you will have friends all across the United States to visit when you get back.

 Going with your university means you go with other students from your university – here we’re taking over Brussels, Belgium! (left) & the view on my walk to school everyday in Seville (right).

Isn’t it going to be more expensive with an affiliate than my home university?

It depends on the program you choose and your home university. For me, it was actually the same price to study abroad in Costa Rica for a semester (including all costs) as it would have been to stay at my home university. This includes housing, food, travel and airfare costs. Pretty good deal huh?

One thing that really helped me decide on a program was cost, and CEA provides a really clear layout of the full potential cost of the program. The budget that they lay out helps you think about and predict how much you could spend on airfare, class supplies, food, outside travel expenses, personal expenses, and even visa requirements.

 Kayaking on el Río Guadalquivir was one
of the activities with CEA in Seville!

But what about financial aid?

CEA has plenty of scholarships and grants that you can apply for in addition to any that your study abroad office may have. At my university (Iowa State University), all of my other financial aid (including university scholarships) also apply.

 My university in France – most of
the classes were focused on cooking
and health.

The bottom line?

It’s going to depend on you to decide what is best for you. I choose CEA for my study abroad programs because it fit what I was looking for both times I went with them. All of the staff are great, it’s nice having excursions planned for when you first arrive, and they are really clear about what you can expect before and during the program. If I had time to study abroad again, there is no doubt that I would go with them again.

Kathryn Moorhead is a Summer 2013 Seville, Spain & Fall 2014 San Jose, Costa Rica alumna and a CEA Alumni Ambassador at Iowa State University.


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