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ACA Why Study Abroad

Here are some (but not all) reasons to study abroad:

  • Get university credits for many courses, including some general
    education courses (check our course catalog online)
  • Become more valuable to an employer by mastering fluency in
    another language.
  • Immerse yourself in a foreign country and learn a new language
  • Think outside the box and diversify your educational experience
  • Dream bigger and expand your career opportunities
  • Amplify visibility when applying for graduate programs
  • Discover new skills and passions
  • Enjoy awesome adventures and collect incredible
    personal stories
  • Find the love of your life
  • Study and travel for a very affordable price
  • Become a world traveler
  • Get in touch with your family’s ancestral roots
  • Deepen your spiritual life
  • Expand your horizons and become a world changer

Academic Planning & Credit Hours

As soon as students arrive to the home campus, they will all take a Language Placement Examination to access the appropriate course level for them to enroll in. Subsequently, they will learn the listing of courses corresponding to the level they qualified for. However, prospective ACA students should consider different ways in which the year abroad can coordinate with the current year and the year(s) upon return. The following questions should serve as a guide in this planning:

  • Which courses will duplicate credit already earned?
  • Which courses will or will not meet the general studies requirements at the home campus?
  • Which of the courses that will meet specific home campus requirements do so with qualifications?
  • Which general studies requirements can be taken abroad?
  • Which courses will be applicable to students’ majors or minors?
  • What is the maximum number of credit hours students may earn each term?

It is compulsory for all ACA students to enroll in a minimum of 12 quarter/semester credits; maximum load is 18 hours (or 20 hours with the written authorization of the home campus Registrar). The ACA Consortium policy does not allow the students to take more than 20 credit hours per quarter.

All guided field trips, including tours, are a required part of the instructional program. Students must participate in these field trips and tours. They are not optional.  No refunds will be given if students for any reason are not able to participate.

The home campus registrar’s office and ACA campus coordinator will be the best sources in answering most of these questions. Neither ACA nor the overseas schools can act as academic advisors for home campus majors and minors.

The college from which ACA students will ultimately receive their degree has the right to determine how a given course satisfies a specific degree requirement. Neither the ACA office nor any individual in the international school can indicate with certainty how a given course will apply. ACA students should obtain answers about their academic planning at their home university.

Additional Costs Abroad

The personal account deposit is a part of the ACA charges paid through the home campus. It serves two purposes: a reserve fund for emergencies and as a contingency deposit for books, supplies, etc. ‘Emergencies’ are determined by international campus administrators. Personal spending money or money to go on trips is not considered an emergency. This safety money does not allow students to willfully excuse themselves from their work requirements. Any unused portion will be refunded directly to students before they leave the international campus at the end of the school year. Neither this money nor the regular ACA charges will cover:

  • Airfare to and from program
  • Room and board charges for early arrival or late departure. (2 days early is normally acceptable without extra fees)
  • Private music lessons and rental of practice rooms.
  • Food during vacation time
  • Courses beyond the normal load (16-18 credit hours/term).
  • Per diem charges during Christmas or other vacation periods not included in the room and board charges if students stay on campus (for more details, contact us).
  • Personal trips and other expenses incurred.
  • Dental work, eye examinations, glasses unless they are due to an accident or hospitalization (for more details, contact us).
  • Health Club memberships, Aerobics/Workout Room fees, Swimming Pool fees or memberships, etc.

Because of these extra costs, students will have to provide for additional funds, but they may not wish to keep large sums of cash. Here are two methods students can explore and perhaps use:

  1. Obtain a debit card with the Visa or MasterCard logo. This functions like an ATM card, but can also be used as a credit card when needed. Students can withdraw funds from ATM machines across Europe and South America and these machines generally provide very good exchange rates. Withdrawals and purchases will be deducted from the account of the card issuing bank in the U.S. and funds can be deposited into the account by parents or other authorized persons as needed.
  2. Money can also be transferred safely through Western Union, often arriving the same day. There is typically a fee of around $30 U.S. for this service. The international schools can help students locate the nearest Western Union office to the campus.

Ordinarily the total cost of the year abroad will be less than that of a year at a consortium college in North America, unless students elect to do extensive traveling on their own. In planning their budgets for the year, students should consider all costs outlined above plus some contingency for the unexpected and, if possible, for limited additional travel. Although students are expected to attend strictly to their studies and school activities, carrying a full academic load of 12-18 hours per term, there are opportunities for occasional trips–especially during vacations–which can enrich the experience abroad.

Conditions for Remaining in ACA

Once ACA students arrive at the international school, they assume a multiple allegiance. As individual students from a college or university in Canada or the United States, they are representatives of their home country. At the same time they are residents in another country and students in one of its schools.

By the very nature of ACA, individuals in the program are first of all students of the college or university in the ACA consortium through which they applied. As such, they are subject to the academic, financial and citizenship requirements of the home campus. At the same time, ACA students are part of the affiliated international college/university and as such are subject to all its requirements. Failure to meet requirements in any of these areas at both the home and international  campus may be cause for removal from the program. In fact, any unacceptable behavior/immoral activities, breaking campus rules, will result in immediate expulsion from the program.

Students whose financial accounts are not kept current will not be allowed to attend classes or write examinations and will have to un-enroll from the program until such time proper financial arrangements have been made.

The administrators, teachers, and students in the international schools do everything possible to make ACA students welcome and their year among them a truly delightful experience. Living and blending with the group within its society and its culture can contribute tremendously toward the quality of students’ subsequent lives than even the learning of the language. ACA programs offer a learning opportunity which cannot be obtained any other way!

Internships

Students who have completed ACA internships have seen their language skills improve exponentially as well as their understanding of the local culture. Furthermore, ACA internships allow students to be immersed in a real life work environment of the country where they are studying.

Summer programs do NOT offer internships. ACA Internships are an additional complement of the ACA academic year programs. Only full-time ACA students, fluent in the target language, qualify for internships.

Since ACA students come from many different majors, our internships are tailored to a variety of areas. Depending on agreements with local businesses and/or availability on campus, these are some areas frequently covered by internships:

  • Social work
  • Early and secondary education
  • Communications & Media
  • Business & Marketing
  • Medicine
  • Translation
  • Art
  • Chaplaincy
  • IT

Internship guidelines:

  • 1 internship credit = 75 hours per quarter or 7.5 hours per week. (1.5 sh = 112.5 hours per semester)
  • Internships are listed with course number 397 and prefaced with the code of the language studied (ex: ITLN for Italy)
  • Students need intermediate level in the target language in order to be eligible for an internship
  • ACA internships are unpaid

The benefits of completing an internship well surpass the investment made by the students. It will make your resume stand out of the crowd. 🙂

Language Placement Exams

Students are placed in language and other courses on the basis of language placement examinations that are given at the overseas campus the day before classes begin in the Fall term. It is imperative that students arrive on their host campus in time to take the placement examinations and that they perform as well as possible on these exams in order to get the most out of their year abroad.

This is a serious examination, the results of which point to the level in which the students should be placed. However, if the student has already completed the same level in their home college or university they can advance to the next level by taking total responsibility for achieving passing grades in the higher level and by not holding back the entire class.

Spanish students need to have completed at least one year of college level or two years of high school level language study in order to be accepted into the academic year Spanish programs. Total beginners are welcome at all other academic year and summer programs.

Married Students & Families

ACA couples planning to attend as married students, or accompanied by children, need to contact the ACA office to confirm that the host campus can accommodate them. Married ACA students will pay the standard ACA tuition and fees. Any other financial arrangements must be made directly with the international school via the ACA office. Do not hesitate to discuss your plans with us.

Packing List

PLEASE READ ALL THE WAY THROUGH:

In planning what to take, remember that closet and other storage space at international schools is often limited so pack only essentials. Check with your airline as to what limits apply to both checked baggage and carry-ons.

Other items, such as bulky clothing for winter, may be sent by mail . Please email ACA for recommendations on mailing. Regular mail can take up to 6-8 weeks for delivery (three months in Spain), but it can also take as little as 1-2 weeks depending on the mail service purchased (air/air freight). All packages will be charged customs fees when they arrive at international countries. For customs information be sure that USED CLOTHING is clearly indicated, and even then, there may still be a customs charge. It may be worth paying airline surcharges to take these items as extra baggage.

Have a copy of any prescribed medications you may be currently taking (signed by your doctor). If border control officials find you in possession of certain prescribed medications, it can lead to serious problems. Outside of the US, there is a list of controlled substances that are considered illegal in other countries (you may want to research this list). To prevent complications, carry required medication in clearly labeled containers and copies of any applicable prescriptions.  Students taking regular prescription medications are advised to take at least a three month supply. Such students typically must purchase additional medication in their host country- which is not a problem as long as they are able to supply a pharmacist with the generic name of the medication, as well as the ingredients. But be aware that the medication may not contain the exact ingredients as the original prescription (due to certain ingredients being considered illegal).

In packing your carry-on bag, be sure to include personal toiletry items, a change of clothing, and any prescribed medication. Students have been occasionally separated from their luggage. However, be sure to stay within size and weight limits for carry-on bags to avoid paying an extra fee. It is wise to take an inventory of what you packed in your luggage for insurance purposes- in case your bags are lost or stolen.

Sometimes, you may unknowingly make evident that you are a stranger in a foreign land, making yourself a target for con artists or thieves. DO NOT TRUST YOUR BAGGAGE OR PERSONAL ITEMS WITH ANYONE other than an agent authorized to do so. Guard your carry-on baggage and other luggage whenever you travel, especially on trains, buses, and airports.

Important Suggestions:

  • Do not leave home without your passport!
  • Take $100 worth of local currency before entering the country, including coins or bills of small denominations for renting luggage carts.
  • Credit/debit card (American Express not recommended)
  • Phone charger while traveling
  • Take additional scans of the first page of your passport and visa in case your physical passport is lost or stolen .
  • Take an International Driver’s License and state or provincial driver’s license, if you are planning any international driving.  Contact American or Canadian Automobile Association offices for details.
  • Take adapter plugs for any electrical appliances being transported.  Include a converter if the appliance is not for 220 volts (average American voltage is 110).  Be sure voltage and wattage ratings of the converter are adequate for the appliances taken.  Adapter plugs and converters are not the same; bring both.
  • Bring warm clothes and comfortable close-toed shoes for school days as well as travel.  School buildings are not heated as much as North Americans may be accustomed to – usually not above 65 degrees F.  Think in terms of clothes that can be layered.  It can be chilly in the morning, warm by midday and cold again at night. This is true at all campuses.
  • Take a back pack. It will be handy for independent traveling.
  • Keep in contact with your parents, regarding any changes in your itinerary while traveling, and once you have arrived safely to your destination. Tell your parents – “no new is good news”. If they do not hear anything from you or the ACA Director, it means you have arrived safely.

General Packing Suggestions:

  • Warm winter jacket (waterproof)
  • Lightweight jackets or windbreakers
  • Sweaters for winter
  • Hats, gloves, and scarves
  • Umbrella
  • Comfortable shoes (for plenty of walking or hiking)
  • Sandals
  • Waterproof boots (for snow in Austria, Germany, and France)
  • Activewear (for exercise, sports, traveling, etc.)
  • Bathrobe and slippers
  • A set of towels
  • Some everyday toiletries (shampoo/conditioner, body wash, face wash, shavers, etc.)
  • Both warm and lightweight pajamas
  • Clothes hangers
  • Hairdryer, straightener, etc.
  • Church clothes (easy to care for/do not get terribly wrinkly)
  • Couple of clothes items for banquets or parties
  • Prescription glasses/contacts
  • Both regular and thick socks
  • Dual-language dictionary
  • Travel guide(s)
  • Luggage locks and tags
  • Camera
  • Laptop
  • Headphones
  • Chargers for electronics
  • Mosquito repellent (for Brazil and Italy)
  • Modest swimwear
  • Water bottle
  • Small backpack, purse, fanny pack, cross body (to carry personal items closely while traveling)
  • Photos of friends and family, and other personal items to decorate your room
  • Some of your favorite snacks

Please note that very revealing or immodest clothing, and piercings, are discouraged.

Because needs and priorities differ so markedly among individuals, it is impossible to produce a list of “must take” items  for a year abroad. It is only possible to indicate some of the items that previous students have indicated as having a high priority.

Passports

ACA students must have valid passports and visas to study in any academic year program. Passport applications are available in federal post offices and in many local government record offices. Depending on a student’s circumstances, it may take up to two months for students to receive a passport and another two to four months to receive a student visa from the international country. If students do not possess a passport yet, they must apply early for one to ensure documents are ready when needed. This is particularly true of students with other than Canadian or U. S. citizenship. The ACA office will notify students if they need a visa. Student visas are stamped on existing passports, so it is necessary to have a passport before applying for the visa. Protect your legal documents.  Do not lose them.

IMPORTANT: Your passport should be valid up to 6 months longer than your stay abroad.

Personal Travel

Safety & Belongings

ACA students are strongly advised not to travel alone. This is particularly important for students who have not had previous international solo travel experience. It is wise to keep a quiet, low profile and blend with area travelers as much as possible. Problems in traveling in an unfamiliar city increase markedly after dark. Because of this, plan on arriving during daylight hours if at all possible. Traveling light (with just a carry-on) makes the experience easier and safer. Backpacks are the best carry-on luggage for short trips. Luggage and travel items should be carefully guarded at all times. Do not rely on strangers to watch your belongings.

Students must leave contact and itinerary information with their dorm deans. Before departing, students should be equipped with the ISOS app and contact numbers of their program director and dorm deans. In the case of an emergency, students should notify their program director immediately and contact ISOS. For more information on ISOS, click here.

IMPORTANT: While on host campus, traveling abroad, taking private or ACA tours, please protect your personal belongings like luggage, electronic devices, passport, cash or any valuables.  If these are lost or stolen, ACA will not be responsible and such loss is not covered under insurance.

Planning Your Travel Schedule

International campus learning experiences are very carefully planned. Early departures and early examinations are very difficult if not impossible to arrange. Please look carefully at the calendars for each campus. Do not plan to arrive after the beginning dates or leave before the ending dates of terms and before the date of the year closing service, or to leave before or return after printed vacation dates. Students who have excessive unexcused absence days will have their grades penalized. Personal travel is not considered a legitimate excuse for a class absence. Teachers’ heavier teaching loads do not make it easy for them to make special examinations and make special arrangements for their students. Please don’t plan on asking for such privileges.

Shipping Packages Abroad

Should a parent need to ship a package to their student abroad, it is necessary to comply with any instructions given by postal authorities. Nevertheless, despite parents’ efforts to pay all fees when shipping a package to their student abroad, sometimes students have been charged extra fees when receiving their packages.

Here are some suggestions on how to mail packages from home to your student abroad:

Private/used items such as clothing

Declare only a minimal amount of value and list such contents as used, private clothes, etc. on the shipping documents. Make sure that any original packaging materials are taken off the items in order to demonstrate that the package contains used items and not new ones that could be used for resale abroad (as the customs officers will assume).

Medications and pharmaceutical items

Most governments require an import license for all medication and this requirement may even concern non-prescription medications that can be purchased over the counter at US pharmacies. The typical procedure to obtain this license usually takes some weeks and is very complicated. If possible, do NOT ship medicine to your student abroad. The best option is for your student to travel with medicine on him/her. For more information on how to travel with prescription medicine, visit What to Pack in FAQs. If medicine is shipped, it is important not to package it with the above mentioned items of personal clothing as this may cause the entire package to be delayed. In past cases, such packages have not been allowed to proceed to the students until the medicines have been removed and destroyed.

Transcripts

The class work taken during the ACA summer term or year is treated as credit from the home campus in North America. The affiliated school will send official records of the class work (provided the personal account with the school is not overdrawn) to the ACA office in Maryland. The ACA office in turn will pass the records on immediately to the Registrar of the member college or university through which students enrolled. All official transcripts to other schools or entities must originate from the home campus, not from international campuses.

All ACA programs are a complement of a higher education degree pursued at the home university in the United States. Therefore, if the student is transferring to a new institution of higher education, outside of the SDA system, it is advisable to not list the international institutions as schools or colleges attended. The ACA credits will be included in the home university transcript. ACA programs should be listed only as study abroad experiences facilitated and endorsed by the home university. For any questions or assistance with ACA transcripts, contact the ACA office.

Visas

The current pandemic has unfortunately changed some of the usual visa procedures. Therefore, some information listed below does not reflect the current consulate requirements. The ACA Visa Specialist keeps monitoring all updates posted by consulates in an effort to provide students with the latest information on this matter. More than ever, please direct any questions to the ACA office.

The ACA office is NOT an immigration office and does not have direct connections/access to foreign consulates. If a visa is needed to attend an ACA program, the ACA office will notify you with instructions and the necessary documents for obtaining a student visa in the United States. Before the end of July you need to be actively working on your student visa. Some visas can take as long as 2 months (e.g. France). Apply for your visa as early as possible (and no earlier than 90 days before the start date of your program)!

Attention I-20 students – If you are studying in the United States with a student visa (I-20), all related documentation to your status in America needs to be provided by your American university. We strongly advise you to plan on obtaining your student visa for the ACA program in the United States, and to start the process at least two months prior to departure for the ACA program.

Any questions regarding student visas for ACA programs need to be emailed to ACA.


  • All VISA questions MUST be directed to the ACA Headquarters in Maryland (NOT your home school). See country-specific information below, or on your school’s page.
  • Remember, the visa process takes time, so it is important that you apply for the ACA program early enough. Click here for how to apply.
  • Carefully read the instructions in your ACA acceptance package regarding the visa process and procedure.     
  • Official Translators:  For the purpose of getting documents translated, official/authorized translators are available in a Court House or in a Law Office. (must use only authorized translators). Also the information is available online if you Google.
  • Fingerprinting:  Your local police station will be able to direct you to the nearest fingerprinting facility.  Most states have their own fingerprint process on their website.
  • Please remember to travel to your program abroad with all the documents that the consulate provides you.

Please read carefully the following important information:

  1. STUDENTS STAYING ABROAD OVER 90 DAYS, MUST HAVE A VISA. NO ONE MUST TRAVEL OR STAY IN EUROPE WITHOUT A LONG-TERM STUDENT VISA IF STAYING MORE THAN 90 DAYS.  If you are a non-US or non-Canadian citizen, you must have a visa even for a shorter stay. ACA will not be responsible for any inconvenience you may face travelling in and around Europe without valid visa documents. The foreign government can fine and/or deport you if this law is broken.
  2. A VISA IS A STAMP IN YOUR PASSPORT.  Therefore, a valid passport is required before applying for a visa. Your passport must be valid for at least six months longer than your anticipated stay abroad.
  3. IF YOU HAVE DUAL CITIZENSHIP, DO NOT SWITCH PASSPORTS.  If you use an American passport, then you must only use that one, no matter where you travel.
  4. DO NOT BUY AIRLINE TICKETS BEFORE GETTING YOUR VISA.  You must have the entry and exit dates. More detailed information and important documents will be provided in your acceptance package.  The visa office requires only a round-trip travel itinerary–not an actual ticket. However, some consulates insist upon an actual round-trip ticket.  Please check with your host country’s consulate.
  5. ACA WILL PROVIDE SOME IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS THAT ARE REQUIRED TO APPLY FOR A STUDENT VISA.  A list of requirements will be enclosed in your acceptance package. Obtaining a student visa is entirely your responsibility as a student.
  6. CHECK YOUR HOST COUNTRY CONSULATE’S WEBSITE FOR ANY CHANGE IN REGULATIONS OR REQUIREMENTS.  These things change often.  However, please contact the ACA office before you take any action.
  7. ACA WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY CHANGES IN YOUR CONSULATE’S REGULATIONS OR FOR THE OUTCOME OF YOUR VISA REQUEST.  However, please contact the ACA office for assistance with ANY visa situation.  Your home school CANNOT help you with your visa issues.
  8. YOUR VISA MUST BE OBTAINED IN THE COUNTRY OF YOUR RESIDENCE BEFORE LEAVING.  Students cannot apply for any visa while in a foreign country (except for Argentina, Austria, and Germany).  Most consulates require the applicant/student to appear in person at least once.   Appointments are made on the consulate’s website.
  9. KEEP SECURE ALL THE DOCUMENTS ACA SENDS.  Make and keep copies of all documents before you submit them to the consulate.
Withdrawal from ACA

WITHDRAWAL NOTICE

Circumstances may change, unfortunately, prompting students to withdraw from an ACA program. If this occurs, before going abroad, students should immediately notify the ACA office and the following entities at their home campus: 

(a) the Student Finance and Financial Aid Office, 

(b) the ACA Campus Coordinator, and 

(c) the Admissions Office. 

These notifications are the responsibility of the student. If any of the aforementioned offices are not properly notified, students will have to bear any resulting consequences.

FORMS

To expedite the determination of any refund, before students departure from the host campus, the ACA office must receive the following information:

  1. An ACA withdrawal form indicating the date of withdrawal, reason, and any pertinent information.
  2. The balance on the student’s account. All refunds regarding personal accounts MUST be done by the host campus, not by ACA.

DEADLINES & REFUNDS

If the student requests cancellation of her/his ACA application before the start of the program, and before arriving at the host campus, there is a 100% refund of the ACA package price.

A student who withdraws from ACA after checking in at the host campus will receive a tuition/fees refund based on the date the completed withdrawal form is submitted to the ACA Program Director. Each host campus will then calculate the charges for dormitory, cafeteria, books purchased and any cultural tour pre-paid reservations. These charges are NON-REFUNDABLE and will be automatically deducted from any eligible refund portion.

The deadlines for withdrawal and refunds during the SUMMER SESSION are the following:

Withdrawal during the first THREE days of summer classes = 100% refund of tuition cost

Withdrawal during the first SIX days of summer session = 75% refund of tuition cost

Withdrawal during the first TEN days of summer session = 50% refund of tuition cost

Withdrawal AFTER the first TEN days of summer session = no refund

NON-REFUNDABLE – $25 ACA application fee + ACA insurance 

 

The deadlines for withdrawal and refunds during the ACADEMIC YEAR SESSION are the following:

Withdrawal during the first FOUR DAYS of the term = 100% refund of tuition cost

Withdrawal during the SECOND WEEK of the term = 75% refund of tuition cost

Withdrawal during the FOURTH WEEK of the term = 50% refund of tuition cost

Withdrawal AFTER the FOURTH WEEK of the term = no refund

NON-REFUNDABLE – $100 ACA application fee + ACA insurance 

ALL REFUNDS (including tuition, room & board, unused tour fees and any remaining portion of the personal account deposit) are made by the international school directly to the student and must be received before the student’s departure. ACA is NOT responsible for refunds left uncollected by the student.