CIEE High School study abroad

My 10th grader wants to apply to CIEE to study in France this summer.  I read a few reviews online that were pretty negative.  However, her BUSD counselor said that she has had many students go through CIEE and they have had good experiences.  

Have you had a child go abroad with CIEE?  What was their experience?  

Thank you!

Parent Replies

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My daughter went to Chile for a summer program with CIEE in July 2017, when she was a rising Junior.

Her experience was mixed.  


Structured program enabled her to go to South America

Received a pretty good scholarship.

Improved her Spanish, both expressive and receptive.

She made a good connection with two other girls in the program.


Experience can vary greatly by host family situation.  In her case, the host family was not very enriching, and CIEE lead us to believe that she would be in a home with a grandmother, her adult son, and a grand-daughter.  Really it was just the grandmother, as the son worked all the time and the grand-daughter was nowhere to be found. Host mother did not provide enriching experiences on weekends, such as trips, etc., whereas others with a more active family got to experience more enriching things. Also there was another CIEE student placed in the home, who did not know a word of Spanish, and it created an uncomfortable dynamic where my daughter was expected, at times, by her peer, to serve as translator.

In addition, and this was the worse thing about the trip, my daughter was bullied by some other participants in the program, which marred the experience significantly.  Bullying is a tough thing for a youth to handle, and my understanding is that the targeted youth does not usually tell anyone in charge about it (for a number of reasons, but basically because it just makes you a snitch.) The bullying was verbal, not physical, but I find that even years later she still gets upset when she thinks about it.

My son did the CIEE program in Portugal last summer. It was excellent. I highly recommend their programs. 

Our daughter (in AUSD) spent a month in Sevilla, Spain doing a language and culture immersion with CIEE and absolutely loved it. The structure of the program worked great for her. She and another CIEE student lived with a host family but had class and/or cultural excursions daily. One of her favorite stories to tell is the "test" they would do when walking into a store and conversing with a local. If the local kept speaking Spanish, she knew her accent was on par! Of course, the freedom, siestas and daily gelato were also top of the list.

The only negative thing I can think of from the experience was booking travel with them. It was more expensive than booking on your own and they didn't jump on a fare after I had approved it, which ended up costing us even more. 

My daughter did one of the Costa Rica trips with CIEE in 2017. She loved it and had a great experience. She was the youngest in her group, between freshman and sophomore year. I think the only issue I had was that we had little communication with her during the trip (maybe twice) and given her age at the time, I found it a little hard. But, it created a great sense of independence, adventure and confidence in her. Unfortunately, I don't have any experience with other programs to compare.