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Top Tips For USU Students + An ILP Semester Abroad

Posted by Emily Cummings on 1/2/20 12:40 PM

ILP Adventure in Europe

If you’re a USU student and have been thinking about making a semester with ILP work out with your school schedule, everything you’re wondering about is right here! 

One of my biggest regrets during my college years was not taking more time to travel. I felt like there was this kind of pressure to just graduate and get all my schooling done .... then I graduated and said to myself "now what?". I found ILP right after I had graduated (and went on two semesters), but I had tons of friends who fit an ILP semester in their school schedule and I wished I had done the same.

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

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

ILP’s a non-profit organization who sends college aged students (like you) abroad to teach English or volunteer in an orphanage. Yep, it looks super great on resumes, plus you’ll get the chance to travel around and make a difference. We don’t work specifically with a certain university, but quite a few of our volunteers do come from Utah State University. Go Aggies!

We’re Utah-based and have a code of conduct that appeals to volunteers who are looking to do some service and work with children, all while getting to really experience another culture. Here’s all the info you’re looking for if you’re wondering if you can make this work:

I'm In School, When's The Best Time To Go? 

Go During The Summer 

Yep! ILP has programs that run year round: we have a fall semester, a spring semester, and a summer semester.  

The ILP semesters line up really well with the three semesters offered at USU, but if you're not taking classes during the summer semester, going on an ILP semester would fit into your plans quite easily. Most countries for the summer semester are leaving the end of April or the beginning of May and get you back in the middle of August. You can check the USU academic schedule here. 

You can choose to volunteer in any one of our countries except for Russia and China (where there isn’t an ILP summer semester available).  The dates for our Ukraine program might not work very well if you're attending USU Spring semester because they typically depart mid April, but check with your professors to see if you can arrange to take finals early if you're really hoping to go to Ukraine.  Other than that, a summer abroad somewhere like Vanuatu (a gorgeous island near Fiji), or Uganda (come safari and see elephants and giraffes!) would be right up your ally. See all of our countries here.

If you don’t want to go during a summer semester, and have your sites on a Fall or Spring semester, you have a couple of options! 

Go Fall/Spring — Deferring A Semester 

Going during an ILP Fall or Spring semester is also an option, even if you're signed up for classes. Just defer a semester!

To get technical, deferring is actually called a Leave of Absence or Deferment at Utah State. You can actually take a leave of absence for up to 3 semesters or push back your first semester for up to 1.5 years .... which is plenty of time for you to go on ILP at least once while you're a student at Utah State University. 

The ILP semesters line up really well with the Fall and Spring semesters offered at USU. If you defer for Fall, you'd be able to have an adventure in Asia, or hang out in Europe, then come back before Christmas and before your Spring semester of classes started. Or, decide to defer a Spring semester and leave (typically in January) for sunshine and beaches in the Caribbean or the South Pacific, getting home typically around the end of April ... plenty of time to start up summer classes or a summer job. 

We dive into a little more detail about deferring a semester at USU here if you're like to read more about that. 

Go Anytime — Take Online Classes 

If you don’t want to defer, you can take online classes while volunteering with ILP. You’ll only be teaching English or volunteering in an orphanage for 15-20 hours a week, meaning you have plenty of time to take an online class if you’d like. That way you can get college credit during the Fall or Spring semester without "missing" school.

We’ve had multiple volunteers go that route. It makes for a busy semester and we really don’t recommend taking a full load (because you don’t want to miss out on weekend trips to cool beaches, a bomb safari, or cathedrals because you have too much homework) but it’s helped make it work for fall and spring semester volunteers. 

One helpful tip from an ILP alumna who took USU online classes while on ILP? Try to avoid any broadcast classes. They typically meet at set times and sometimes require you to be in the state (which won't be in the case for you!). It will be very helpful for you to talk to your academic advisor about which classes would be best for you to take while volunteering in a different country. You'll have to consider things like different time zones and the possibility of the internet being spotty and unreliable in a few areas of the world, but multiple ILP volunteers have made it work. 
 ILP Thailand

Can I Get 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 your university (USU) to determine if they’ll give you credit while you volunteer with us. Sometimes it depends on your major's requirements.

Since there isn't an exact science on how to do this you'll need to talk with your adviser. 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 USU school 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, but it's worth it, right?  

Here are a couple more pointed strategies for getting credit for your ILP semester with Utah State University. 

Try An Internship 

Talk with the internship coordinator and see if there's a USU internship that you can replace with an ILP semester (like one of the USU China programs). If not, you may be able to work with staff at USU about creating an internship that works specifically for your situation. Check out this webpage for more info on USU internships

Work With A Professor
This works kind of like an online class, just a bit more specific and catered to your particular situation. Some students have had luck working with a professor and completing a set of directed readings as a way to get credit while volunteering abroad. Typically, you'll work with a professor who you're familiar with (someone you've taken classes from before and someone in your major), and complete a set of directed readings for your complete while abroad. You'll typically need to also submit a variety of essays and reviews. Think of it as a more personalized online class, in a way. 
The most important thing to keep in mind is that each case is really unique and depends on a lot of factors. The ILP volunteers who have been able to get credit while volunteering with ILP have talked with their Career Coach and various staff to explore all of their options. It hasn't worked out for everyone, but it's worked out for some! 
ILP Adventure

Where Can I Learn More? 

Come to an Info Meeting! Each semester, we have multiple meetings in Logan that share a little bit about ILP. 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. Bring your friends and join us — oh, and come hungry because there’s pretty much always free food or a treat. 

See our upcoming meetings in Logan, Utah here. 

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 figuring out when you can attend a meeting and talk to someone who’s already volunteered with us. 

Would ILP Be A Good Fit For You? 

We think so! But it depends on a few things. We've worked with thousands of students and quite a few come from USU. You'll be able to ask all of your questions when you start your application and get in touch with an ILP representative, but 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 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.

Teaching English in the Caribbean with ILP

Still have a few more questions?
Not a problem — just talk to an ILP Representative! They can tell you more about volunteering with ILP (International Language Programs); every semester, we send college-aged volunteers all over the world; we can make this work for you. 
 Text Me! I've Got Questions

Topics: All About ILP + Volunteering, 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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