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Tips For SVU Students + A Semester Abroad

Posted by Emily Henkel on 7/30/23 12:34 PM

ILP Adventure

If you're a Southern Virginia University student and are wondering how to fit a semester of traveling into your school year, we have what you're looking for! I'm so glad I took the time to travel when I was in school. I knew I wanted to do some traveling during college, but was worried about fitting it into my plans with school (and affording it). I'm so glad I found ILP which gave me the chance to volunteer and travel abroad all on a budget I could afford. It was exactly what I was looking for! 

If you’re also wondering about traveling, volunteering, and exploring somewhere in Europe, Asia, the South Pacific or another one of the ILP’s countries while at SVU, you’re absolutely in the right place.  

Wait, you’re not an ILP volunteer yet?
Here’s how to apply

First off, what even is ILP? International Language Programs is a non-profit organization who sends college aged students (like you) abroad to teach English or volunteer in an orphanage. It looks super great on resumes, plus you’ll get the chance to travel around and make a difference. On your semester, your Program Fee covers your housing, along with your flight, your meals, and a few other perks, like your visa. Sounds pretty perfect, right?

ILP doesn't work specifically with a certain university, but a few of our volunteers do come from Southern Virginia University (and nearby schools).  ILP is based in Utah and has a code of conduct similar to the one you’ll find at Brigham Young University if you're familiar. 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!). 

If the idea of traveling with a group to volunteer somewhere for a semester sounds like something you may be interested, here's a bit more info on how to make it happen: 

ILP Adventure

When Are The ILP Semester Dates? 

Good news for SVU students, because our semesters line up pretty well with your school schedule. You can get a reminder at what the SVU academic calendar 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: Groups leave sometime in January (or early February) and come home 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 leave more like end of September to mid-October (also home for Christmas). We can send volunteers to every one of our locations for the Fall semester.

ILP Adventure

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! ILP summer semesters typically line up with the end of Spring classes and get you home before or around when Fall SVU semester classes typically start, so it's a perfect way to fill that summer gap. 

Or, go during the fall/winter! If you’re okay with skipping a semester of school, ILP Fall and Spring semesters fit in nicely to SVU Fall and Winter classes, plus, SVU has a pretty straightforward deferment policy if you're just starting your very first semester of classes but want to volunteer abroad first. If you're already enrolled and just want to take a leave of absence for a semester, that's also an easy option. 

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 have a scholarship to put on hold. ILP is happy to supply any paperwork to show your academic advisor, if necessary. 

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 the 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! 

ILP Adventure

Can I Get School Credit? Or Internship Credit? 

Maybe. It’s an answer that doesn’t have a straight set of rules, but it is possible.

Since ILP doesn’t work with a set university, it’s up to Southern Virginia University to determine if they’ll give you credit while you volunteer with us. Since there isn't an exact science on how to do this you'll need to talk with your adviser to see how things work with your degree.

You'll work out your credits through the school, not through the ILP office but we’re happy to help where we can. If you’re required to provide some paperwork about your ILP semester and what you’ll be doing, give our office a call and we can help you out. 

Things really are pretty individual and do depend on a case by case basis when it comes to getting SVU school or internship credit. Start by speaking with your counselor and see where you can go from there. You may need to do a little digging to see who you need to speak with at your department.

Uganda (23A)

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! 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.

Every semester we have Info Meetings where you can learn a bit more get your questions answered. There will be someone who has volunteered with us before and you are free to ask all the questions you want. Meetings are pretty quick, about 20-30 minutes and you don’t have to RSVP.

See our upcoming meetings here. (We have virtual meetings, as well as meetings in Southern Virginia when we have ILP alumni available to run the meetings in-person). 

If you still have a few questions about ILP, you can get them all answered. That post talks about who can apply, the costs associated with our programs, and how vacations all work out. I’d suggest reading that post real quick, then talk to someone who’s already volunteered with us — we have contact info for us below! 

ILP Thailand

It's travel time!

Haven't started your application yet to volunteer abroad with us? Just starting your application gets you in touch with someone who can answer your questions and walk you through applying. Click below!

Start My Application





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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