Are you wanting to make a difference, travel the world, grow personally or just start a new adventure? You've probably looked around at a few study abroad programs or humanitarian programs and gotten a bit discouraged when you realized how expensive they can be ... but not ILP!
Wondering how to afford a trip abroad?
Check out this complete guide about affording a semester abroad
The best place to start when researching semester abroad programs is to compare them directly — what do you get for your money? The biggest things you usually want to pay attention to are:
- How long is the program?
- What's covered?
Some volunteer programs are a week long and some, like ILP trips, are for an entire semester ... and the costs are usually really similar. If you can opt to go a bit longer you usually get more bang for your buck, just a little bonus tip for you.
Most programs also have a "program fee" which is the cost to do their program. But each program you look at will include different things in that program fee. It's important to compare them directly so that you know what you're getting. For example ... most programs don't include your airfare which is a huge cost on your part. That can add $1,000+ to your costs.
ILP (International Language Programs) has two types of programs with different program fees: Exchange Programs and Humanitarian Programs. Our programs start at $2,520. You can compare our programs here to know which one is best for you.
But no matter where you go ILP will cover the same things —
What's Covered in the ILP Program Fee?
This is covered as part of your program fee (which is huge!).
When you volunteer with ILP we'll book your flight for you and it's included in your program fee. Actually, we're taking care of all of the stress of actually getting to the country (including having someone pick you up at the airport). You just supply some information (like your preferred airport) and we do the rest.
Your housing is covered as part of the program fee. You may be in an apartment, a dorm, a host family — but not matter what, housing for your entire semester abroad is covered.
Even your food is covered! Your program fee includes three meals a day that are provided by the host school or host family where you're staying. Depending on where you volunteer you may eat at the school for all three meals, half of your meals at the school and half with your host family, or receive a spending stipend to buy groceries and cook at home. The meals are typically what the locals eat so that's another way to really dive into the culture.
Meals are covered for your entire semester, excluding vacation days (that way you can test out the pasta in Italy or chow down on gyros in Greece). Any snacks you want are also on you, which means fresh fruit on the streets in Thailand or fresh churros in Mexico. Yum.
We do have some advice for those traveling with allergies or food preferences that will be helpful to know if that's you!
Some of the countries you can volunteer in require a visa. ILP will cover that for you, too. That's usually an unexpected cost most travelers don't think about, but if you're traveling to country that requires a visa, we have you covered (some costs hundreds of dollars, so that's a big perk for you).
As an ILP volunteer you'll receive a different type of visa, one that's not for tourists. We'll handle all the logistics of the visa process (which are changing constantly).
We hold a pre-departure training session in Utah. While costs to come to Utah and stay here are on you, everything else is taken care of by ILP. This training session is a two day workshop full of training and preparation.
Come hang out, learn a ton, get tips from someone who's already volunteered in your location, and meet some of your group members before you head abroad. It's meant to be just an overview and help get you ready to live abroad (get ready for lots of insider tips and insights about what to pack and how to live in a different country). Oh and hey - there's free lunch and snacks, too.
Once you arrive in country, you'll want to access the training documents available to help you plan your lessons and work with your ILP group to help figure out teaching, living abroad, and handling all the next experiences that are coming your way.
Culture and Language Workshops
ILP is a pretty independent program, set up with structure (like your teaching schedule, your housing, your meals, etc). There are also a couple of cultural opportunities available if you are interested. Groups each have a Local Coordinator who you can ask to get to know the culture a bit more.
In the Caribbean, you may hang out at the beach with your students and some local friends or learn how to make a local dish using fresh coconuts. Maybe you can go whale watching, do a chocolate tour, or take a dancing class! In Europe, you may learn the numbers in the local language so you can head to the local market and get a good price on an antique tin. There are tons of experiences you can take advantage of.
What Isn't Covered?
We try to be as transparent as possible when it comes to our program and associated costs.
While the Program Fee includes quite a lot, volunteers will need to provide their own passport (if they don't have one already) and travel insurance while they are abroad. If you contact the office, we can help you with some insurance companies past volunteers have gone with.
Your Program does include your flight, but volunteers are required to pay any baggage fees while you're traveling. You are also responsible for the fun money you spend in-country. That includes costs for all vacations (flights, buses, hostels, and food — your program fee includes meals, but when you're on vacation or want to grab snacks after a day of teaching, that's on you).
Some countries do require vaccinations for you to enter the country, so there may be associated costs depending on your insurance if you choose to volunteer in one of those countries.
How Much Should I Budget?
You can talk with your ILP representative about how much you should budget to cover these costs. We have a pretty good ballpark for each country so you have a goal in mind, plus so much fundraising help, it's ridiculous. We've had volunteers fundraise their entire program fee (and more). It's hard work, but doable.
One thing to keep in mind is that the financial side of things when you're on the program is up to you. You will be planning your vacations, so choosing to take a cheaper overnight train ride or booking a more expensive flight. Want to stay in a hotel or spend the night in a more affordable AirBnB? You'll want to make sure you have a good idea on your spending habits to make sure you can stay within your budget.
A Bit More About ILP
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 you'll plan yourself. We're looking for volunteers who are ready to dive right into a semester of new experiences, come learn more!
Have more questions about the financial side of things?
Click that button below to get in touch with an ILP representative. They can give you great ideas about fundraising for a semester abroad, let you know about discounts, and more.