Experiment in International Living

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

Experience with Experiment in International Living?

March 2013

Does anyone have any experience with ''The Experiment in International Living'' group that takes teens on international excursions over the summer, living with host family, travelling, community service etc.? Thanks. betty

You asked about the Experiment in International Living. Our kids are very very fortunate to have had the opportunity to study and travel while still in high school, thanks to grandparents who once lived overseas and feel this experience is something they want to support for their grandkids.

Our daughter went to Spain the summer before last with the Experiment. She was almost 16, and most of the kids on the program were 16-17. It was a great experience. The program was well-organized, there was the right mix of language instruction, homestay and cultural experiences. They had language instruction for nearly two weeks, and then on to a home-stay in a small town for some real immersion. She made lasting friendships with some really wonderful kids in the program.

I imagine you want to be sure that if your child is going overseas it's for a good reason, a good cause, and a good program. Our kid chose the Experiment because, compared to other programs, it looked like it would attract kids who weren't just looking to blow off the summer, but really wanted to learn about the language and culture of another country. I was also prejudiced in favor, as I'd gone to India with the Experiment in college (a million years ago). The Experiment has been around for a long time, and they know what they are doing. My daughter's Spanish improved hugely, her willingness to try new things expanded...she's become more adventurous while still retaining a strong social conscience.

It was leagues better than our eldest child's experience with EF Tours, a group chosen by her teacher that took her high school art class to Europe; a total boondoggle, beware! It was just a party in bad hotels in Europe, with a whirlwind ''if it's Tuesday it must be Belgium'' approach.

This year our high school junior is going on a community service and travel program called Lifeworks International which also seems well run. I believe both the Experiment and Lifeworks also have programs in the US for kids who want to do community service in another US community.

Again, nothing but praise for the Experiment! Natasha

My daughter went on the Experiment for International living trip to Mexico City and La Paz last year. She absolutely looooved it, until her host father, traveling back from a day trip to Cabo, ran into a cow, the car crashed, and she was in the hospital for a month. She STILL loved the trip, but her host father has not given us his car insurance info YET, and the Experiment Office, while very helpful and kind and sending flowers originally, hasn't backed us up in this request. The trip leader was fabulous, the activities terrific though. A mom I know went with the experiment when a child and loved it too. mom

I don't have personal experience with Experiment for International Living but have heard good things about it. It has been around for a long time. My son participates in an enrichment program called A Better Chance which connects students with various programs, and this is one of them. I heard a few students speak who'd traveled with them and their experiences were very positive - I will think about it for my son next year or the following year. I don't think A Better Chance would recommend the program if it weren't good. Of course if you can get first-hand experiences, the better. travel for kids and teens is a wonderful experience!

Mexico with Experiment in International Living?

February 2007

My daughter wants to go to Mexico with ''Experiment in International Living'' - has anyone had experience with these trips? laurie

My older son went on the EIL trip to England/Ireland/Scotland in 2003. Several of his friends went on other EIL trips that year, and everyone enjoyed their experiences tremendously. I was very concerned about my son getting lost, losing his passport, etc., and the group chaperone addressed these concerns beforehand. They're a very organized outfit. The family my son stayed with in Wales was a perfect fit. They still keep in touch. I recommend EIL highly. Maureen

My daughter did a 5 week program with EIL a couple years ago. Most of the program was positive but the home stay was not. The program made a big deal about clearing my daughter, who has asthma, for the program and then placed her with a smoking family. Additionally, the family was not well vetted and my daughter was put in situations which were unsafe and not supervised. Nancy

my daughter attended a one-month EIL program in japan, summer before last. the program was excellent! i was surprised that so many students attended -- i believe there were over 100, but they were broken into small groups of 10 each. the counselors seemed great, and the program was very responsive when i had questions [before she enrolled and before she left].

i understand that EIL has operated for over 40 years, and we thought the organization was very professional. they provided a lot of information about what to expect, what to pack, etc.

my daughter loved her group and her counselor. the students traveled quite a bit, had intensive language classes the first week or 10 days, did various cultural activities together, spent 2 weeks with host families in various cities [meeting daily with their small groups and counselors]. she was a little homesick, but kept in occasional touch by email. her host family was wonderful. she had a blast! kathy

December 2002

Hi, Has anyone had any experience with Experiment in International Living? My daughter wants to go this summer. Is it difficult to get the trip you want? Is this a good outfit? Thanks for any info Margaret

My son participated in the EIL Japan program last summmer. We decided on this program for a number of reasons: 1) it was the only program that we could find that had language instruction as part of the program, 2) a friend who teaches Japanese at UC Berkeley went on this program as a high school student and recommended it highly, 3) the program was flexible, in that it allowed for students to go early and or stay late, 4) it is a well-established and well-known program.

My son LOVED his Japanese experience. His family was great, his leader was good --he understood high school students and knew a great deal about Japan (he is a HS Japanese teacher)--, the other kids in the group came from a variety of backgrounds and were a truly international group themselves. My son loved his experience so much that he has now spent the winter break back in Japan and spent the New Year holdiay with his Japanese family. He did learn some Japanese, not as much as he had wanted to; but he hopes to be able to take it next year at UC. He came back much more mature and self-confident about negotiating the world. He learned a great deal about himself and Japan. I would recommend the program to anyone who wants to study and live abroad. It was well-organized, supportive, etc. The only downside was the cost. It was expensive; for Japan there are a number of scholarships available, however, you need to apply VERY early for them. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact me. Sally

My daughter went to Costa Rica with the Experiment last summer, after graduating from Berkeley High. She had a great trip in all respects - the guides, the other kids in the group, the homestay, working, traveling and recreating. The Costa Rica trip was my daughter's first choice, so I don't know how difficult it is to get the trip you want. I recall that they may send multiple groups if there are enough applicants. This is a very well-run program. I was able to get a lot of recommendations from past Experimenters by asking the program for contacts. If you call the main office, they can give you the number of a local program leader who can answer your questions about the program. Jil

Margaret, Our daughter went to Costa Rica this summer and enjoyed the experience with Experiment in International Living. She hasn't stopped talking about the trip since. She made good friends from across the country- Wyoming, Arizona, New Jersey, Martha's Vineyard, Atlanta, and elsewhere. It was a very safe and yet stimulating experience. She particularly loved the homestay and the host family as well as the new friends. It was the best for her, given her physical makeup. Bob and Cathy

My daughter went to Costa Rica last year also and was disappointed with the trip. She loved the country and the people as well as her fellow travelers. However, her host family was problematic. They were used to adult visitors, not teenagers and made no attempt to include or involve her. They were surprised that she expected more than room and board. To her credit she changed her expectations and mode of operations, spending most of her time with the other kid's and their families. In addition, she found the trip very commercial. They went to three high end resorts, full of american tourists - not what we expected. Her group leader told her that the Costa Rica trip is the most commercial, vacation like and the least involving in the native culture because there had been ''problems'' in the past. This does not mean that the trip was a bad one. If we were more experienced travelers ourselves we would have known to ask more questions about the intinerary and host families. Carolyn

April 2002

Our daughter is planning on going to Costa Rica this summer with the Experiment in International Living. I'd like to hear from other parents with their thoughts on the program as a whole and/or specifically Costa Rica. If anyone's child is planning on going this summer, could they contact us? We are debating the vaccinations issue. None are required, but malaria, rabies, and Hep A are recommended. Friends I have talked to who have been there didn't get vaccinations. We are trying to figure out what to do. Any thoughts? Cathy & Bob

March 2002

My daughter (a senior at BHS) is considering participating this summer in a program in Central or South America offered by The Experiment in International Living. The brochure looks wonderful, but I would greatly appreciate hearing from anyone who has had experience with this program, or perhaps names of other summer programs that offer a comparable experience. This program offers four week stays in foreign countries that include community service, family home-stay and travel within the host country. Please feel free to respond directly to me, as well as to the newsletter. Many thanks, Jil

I attended The Experiment and lived with a family in France between High School and College. The family I lived with had eight children, aged 21 to 3. I had friendships with many of them. I spoke only French that summer, and my facility with the language improved so much that I still consider myself a French speaker. The program was well conceived, well organized, and a pleasure to be on. I have friends from that summer and my French family visited me several times in the States. I consider that summer to have been the best of my life. So, I heartily recommend The Experiement in International Living and I'd be glad to answer any questions you have. Roy

Jan. 2000

My daughter, then 16, had a very good experience last summer with a homestay in Nantes, France through Experiment in International Living . She was connected with a group of American teens (most from the East Coast) and a French family with a same-aged girl. The American teens had a few days before and after the 3-week homestay in Paris. It was well-organized and supervised. There are similar programs of various lengths for other countries. - William

My daughter, then 16, had a very good experience last summer with a homestay in Nantes, France through Experiment in International Living. She was connected with a group of American teens (most from the East Coast) and a French family with a same-aged girl. The American teens had a few days before and after the 3-week homestay in Paris. It was well-organized and supervised. There are similar programs of various lengths for other countries.