Guide to Study Abroad

Traveling abroad for five to six weeks is a huge undertaking and guardians and their sons/daughters may have many questions and concerns. Over the years, the IUHPFL has created a safe and well-rounded program, customized for young adults. Many safeguards are in place to ensure student safety and well-being and all staff is highly educated and trained.


The field of study abroad has grown significantly since its roots in the early 1900s. One of the pioneers of study abroad was Professor David Starr Jordan, 1851-1931, who became president of Indiana University at the age of 34. During 2010-2011, an estimated 274,000 U.S. students studied abroad. With so many U.S. students interested in going abroad, there have to be standards for study abroad programs.

The IUHPFL is part of a rich study abroad tradition at Indiana University. The IUHPFL is a unit of the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs (OVPIA), and thus advised by OVPIA in all policies and procedures. Not only does the IUHPFL work closely with OVPIA, but also directly with the Office of Overseas Study (OVST), also a unit of OVPIA, on Indiana University Bloomington’s campus. The IUHPFL follows OVPIA mandates. Guardians should be assured that not a decision is made about the IUHPFL  without first seeking the counsel of colleagues at OVPIA who have many years of experience with international education as it applies to U.S. students.

Given that the program is a unit of OVPIA (who receives daily alerts from countries all over the world), the IUHPFL is well informed about any safety issues in the six countries in which programs take place. Additionally, the Managing Director for the program frequently makes site visits to all program sites to review the location and meet with personnel including host families. 

With the exception of overnight excursions, students stay with their host families through the entire program duration. Host families are selected and matched individually to achieve the best possible arrangement for each student. All host families are required to follow the IUHPFL host family guidelines and provide a nurturing home environment.


Students and their guardians commit to a significant financial investment when participating in IUHPFL. However, IUHPFL offers in terms of quality of instruction, duration, depth of immersion and longterm investment.


Students and guardians reap benefits from having participated in IUHPFL that, according to many older alumni, last a lifetime.

  • On average, an IUHPFL alum tests into the fifth semester of his/her foreign language at Indiana University, Bloomington, bypassing up to 6 credit hours*!
  • IUHPFL alumni typically receive college grants and scholarships
  • Greater self-confidence, self-awareness and self-reliance
  • Zest for experiencing new cultures and becoming part of a global community
  • Sense of maturity, accomplishment and independence
  • Lifelong friendships, greater international understanding

The personal growth individuals who participate in the IUHPFL experience is priceless and cannot be measured in monetary terms. 


Many participants receive financial support via one or several sources.

  • Financial Assistance is available to all applicants who qualify. Financial assistance through IUHPFL is a reduction in fees that does not need to be repaid. It is based on individual family need and solely on the pool of program applicants.

Being Apart

For many students and guardians, the study abroad experience is the first longterm absence from home. This separation is often harder for guardians than for students, because:

  • All students experience the same situation, which creates an incredible support system and source of camaraderie.
  • Classmates will likely become like family, given that everyone pledged the Honor Code and dedicated themselves to taking classes over the summer.
  • Instructors, having studied abroad themselves, provide daily guidance and support and relate to students' joys, struggles, and concerns.
  • Support groups, a twenty-five minute session in small groups are dedicated specifically to help assimilate to the host culture and to share experiences of homesickness.
  • Host families provide an excellent support system for students. Even if they have a different native language or culture, students are still capable of sharing emotions, and being happy, scared, confused, exhausted, etc. — moods students are likely to experience in the first few weeks of the program — basic human experiences all humans share, no matter where they are from in the world.
  • Students who play an instrument or pursue a specific sport are often able to continue while abroad as long as arrangements have been made ahead of time. Such activities often keep students busy and less focused on missing home.Students who wish to practice a sport or instrument while abroad are advised to include such information on the Personal Information Form, which is part of the IUHPFL's required acceptance materials. 

It is, of course, natural to miss family and friends from the U.S. while with the program, but students may “connect” once weekly for one hour with loved ones back home via the Internet. Even though an hour does not seem like a long time, seeing an e-mail from a dear family member or friend, or even a picture or two, will go a long way to bringing comfort.

*According to research conducted at Indiana University, Bloomington