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Tips For SUU Students + An ILP Semester Abroad

Posted by Emily Henkel on 7/13/20 9:15 AM

Teach English in Europe with ILP

Hey SUU students! Interested in volunteering abroad but don't want to mess with your school plans?  Learn about getting SUU internship credit, advice about taking online classes while volunteering, and see where in the world you can go with ILP. 

When I was a student, I wasn't looking for a study abroad but still wanted to do a lot of traveling. So you can guess how I excited I was to learn about a program that could let me volunteer, explore, and spend a few months in Europe, Asia, the South Pacific or another one of the ILP’s countries, especially when I realized it was totally something I could afford. 

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ILP’s a non-profit organization who sends college-aged students (like you) abroad to teach English or volunteer in the orphanage program. Yep, it looks super great on resumes, plus you’ll get the chance to travel around and make a difference. Need more? Your housing, your flight, meals, and other perks (like your visa) are covered by your Program Fee. Score.

We don’t work specifically with a certain university, but quite a few of our volunteers do come from Southern Utah University. We’re Utah-based, and have a code of conduct similar to the one you’ll find at Brigham Young University if that’s something you’re familiar with. It’s a group-based experience, so you’re traveling, exploring, living, and teaching with a group of fellow travelers — ILP’s a pretty unique experience. I’m so glad I did it (twice!). 

Thinking this is something you’d love? Here’s how to make it work!

ILP Mexico

When Are The ILP Semester Dates? 

Good news for SUU students, because our semesters line up pretty well with your school schedule. You can get a reminder at what the SUU semester schedule looks like right here.

ILP offers three different semesters: Spring, Summer, and Fall.  Some countries, like Thailand, send two groups during Fall and Spring, so there's an early group and a later group, which can help give you some wiggle room in the same semester since there are two groups. The exact dates of departure change every semester (for every location) but here’s the basic timeline just so you can get an idea: 

ILP Spring Semester: Sometime in January (or early February) to the end of April (or early to mid May). Some countries generally leave earlier (like sometime in January) and come back in April, while others leave later (maybe in February) and come home sometime in May. It does vary between location, but that's a general idea to help you plan! All of our locations have a Spring Program … good luck choosing between tropical beaches and cobblestone castles!  

ILP Summer Semester: Dates are typically early/mid/late May to late August, though some countries can leave mid April (and come home a smidge earlier in August). Every country has a summer semester

ILP Fall Semester: Fall semesters typically leave mid to late August, and come home the end of November or mid-December, just in time for Christmas. Some groups are more like end-of-September/mid-October departures, but still home for Christmas.  We can send volunteers to every one of our locations for the Fall semester.

Some countries, like Thailand, send two groups during Fall and Spring, so there's an early group and a later group, which can help give you some wiggle room in the same semester since there are two groups. 

Something To Know

Sometimes if you’re volunteering in this summer semester, departure dates may conflict with the end of the Spring semester of school. You’ll have to sort it out with your professors, but ILP alumni mention in the past that professors were willing to work with you. Being upfront, proactive, and willing to figure out solutions is going to be pretty key if you happen to have conflicting dates.

Travel hashtags for volunteering in Asia with ILP

How Do I Make It Work While I’m A Student? 

Picking Your Semester 

Go during the summer if you don’t want to take a semester off of school! But if you’re okay with skipping a semester of school, you have a few more options (like going during a Fall or Spring semester with ILP). SUU has a pretty straightforward deferment policy, letting you apply for a deferment just by filling out this form

There aren’t any deadlines to keep track of, just know that the reason you are deferring needs to be approved if you want to defer your scholarship. You can read up on FAQ about deferring or taking a leave of absence here. 

Make sure you talk with your academic advisor to make sure you’re following protocol and get any of your questions answered, especially if you’re wanting to defer and want to put your scholarship on hold. 

Keep in mind that you don't want to wait until the last minute (or even a few months before departure) to apply with ILP. The earlier you can apply the better, so even if you haven't 100% decided how you want to fit ILP into your plans, we still recommend applying since you can always change your semester with us later. 

Affording The Program 

One of the biggest perks for me was how affordable ILP is and their options to make it even more possible. You definitely want to check out lots of helpful fundraising information which helped me pay for my ILP semester (and has helped lots of other volunteers).

Some ILP volunteers have been able to raise a few thousand dollars by thinking ahead and trying out a handful of different fundraising strategies! 

Volunteer abroad with Thailand

Can I Get School Credit? Or Internships Credit? 

While I wish we could guarantee you'll get internship credit or school credit, we can't. We aren't affiliated with any specific academic institution, so whether or not you can get credit for your time volunteering abroad is 100% up to what you can work out with your Southern Utah University academic advisor.  

You may be able to get internship credit for your ILP semester, but it depends on a few factors … and it’s not a guarantee. You can read up on SUU internship policies but know that you’ll probably need to talk to your Department Chair and make sure you fit some requirements.  Get more on SUU internships here. 

ILP Romania

What About Online Classes? 

If you’re taking a semester off to explore with ILP, you can still get some credit by taking a couple of online classes. It’s something we’ve had several ILP volunteers do but you’ll want to know it’s not the right option for everyone.  

Volunteers are teaching or helping in an orphanage program for 20 hours every week (plus time planning lessons). And don’t forget about traveling on the weekends and exploring during your free time! While you do have plenty of free time, weekends off, and about 9 days off for vacations with your group, it can be stressful to juggle online classes … who wants to be worrying about tests and papers when you could be on safarisreleasing baby sea turtles into the ocean, or wandering through pretty cathedrals

Plus, you should know about WiFi. Many countries around the world have WiFi that is slower and less predictable than what you are used to. In some locations, it’s pretty common for the power to go out for a couple of days … which is fine unless you have a big assignment due! Once you've applied and been assigned an ILP representative, check with them to find out which countries have the most reliable WiFi.

If you ask past volunteers about taking online classes while abroad with us, you get pretty mixed reviews for the reasons we talked about above. If you think it would be a good option, here are the online classes offered by SUU

ILP Adventure

Would ILP Be A Good Fit For Me? 

We hope so! But we also understand it’s not right for everyone. We have a lot of resources to help you learn about ILP in advance so that you can have a good idea of what our program is like. But, keep in mind that your experience with us will still be unique depending on so many factors (like where you go, who is in your group, which kids you end up teaching, your attitude while abroad, where you spend your vacations, etc). 

If you're someone who is looking to be adventurous, are motivated to explore a new country, dive right into a new group of friends, and totally new experiences, it sounds like this is the start of a pretty beautiful friendship. Our organization is set up to help you begin your trip, but then the experiences you have are up to you. 

Every location is really different, but those who have a good experience on our program are excited for what life in a new country is like. I'm talking new food, a new language, a new definition of what's normal for you, and so many stories. This isn't a program where we have everything scheduled out for you. It's kinda half and half, with a set teaching schedule and so much free time and vacations that are completely up to you. 

Can I Get More Info? 

You know it! See if you can get questions answered at an info meeting near you. You also may want to read through our Code of Conduct that all volunteers must agree to follow while they are volunteering abroad. Or get a peek our Instagram — @ilpadventure and @ilptakeovers show what our volunteers are up to every semester and are a good place to get questions answered. 

Teach English in Nicaragua with ILP

Have more questions?

You can even work with the ILP Representatives who can help answer any of your questions. We can help answer questions about your schedule and figure out which program would be the best fit  just click that button to get in touch: 

 Text Me! I've Got Questions


Topics: Tips For Your Twenties

Hey friends!

We are ILP, a Utah-based non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We love travel so we're sharing all our tips for making the most of your time living abroad + seeing the world, and how to do it all on the tiniest budget.

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