Traveling abroad for five or six weeks is a huge undertaking. It's natural for parents/guardians and students to have questions and concerns. Over the years, IUHPFL has created a safe and well-rounded program, customized for young adults.
The following topics are typically of particular interest to parents and guardians whose students are applying to IUHPFL.
Students must meet the criteria below to be eligible to participate in IUHPFL. The personal qualities that distinguish successful participants of IUHPFL include a profound desire to learn, intellectual curiosity, social maturity, a willingness to adjust to new customs, and a sincere commitment to adhere to the IUHPFL Honor Code.
Attend high school in Indiana
Be a sophomore, junior, or senior
Be 15 to 18 years old during the program dates
Be in Level III (or higher) if studying French, German, and Spanish (or equivalent*)
Be in Level II (or higher) if studying Chinese or Japanese (or equivalent*)
Possess or be able to attain passport and visa (if applicable) needed to travel to the host country and return to the U.S.
* Students taking language courses outside of their high school are also eligible to apply.
IUHPFL invites students with a wide range of proficiency levels to apply, including emerging, intermediate, and advanced speakers of the language. Heritage speakers are also welcome to apply. Previous IUHPFL participants may be eligible to apply for a program in a different language on a case-by-case basis.
IUHPFL is a demanding experience on every level: academic, personal, social, emotional and physical. Each program site has been intentionally selected to offer a well-rounded cultural experience. Participants learn to navigate their surroundings, communicating exclusively through their target languages and relying upon the encouragement and support of their program peers, instructors, and host families. IUHPFL is truly a life-changing experience that provides students with an opportunity to understand what it's like to live in another culture, while gaining lasting friendships and invaluable career skills.
IUHPFL is built on four distinct pillars: the Language Commitment (which is part of a comprehensive Honor Code), Academic Instruction, Community Engagement Activites, and the Host Family Experience. Together, these pillars create a well-rounded linguistic and cultural immersion experience. The synergy of these pillars makes IUHPFL one of the most unique study abroad programs in the country.
Many prospective IUHPFL students are involved in extra-curricular activities, including sports and music. IUHPFL is set up to support students while they are abroad. Accepted IUHPFL students who are athletes or musicians are encouraged to include this in their acceptance materials and IUHPFL will work to accommodate. Any additional fees, however, must be covered by the student or guardian.
Music students have the option of bringing their instrument abroad or renting one onsite. For athletes, onsite instructors will work with host families and local gyms to integrate practice time with IUHPFL-related activities. Students are advised to discuss their summer plans with their coaches to ensure they receive training or practice guidelines.
Life-changing Summer Abroad
Be sure to check out the stories, blogs, photos, and videos on the IUHPFL Experience page in order to better understand the program through the eyes of its past participants and instructors.
According to testimonials from program alums and parents/guardians, in addition to data collected on the Indiana University Bloomington campus, the benefits of participating in IUHPFL are many and long-lasting.
make remarkable strides in their ability to understand and speak the target language, resulting in a very strong foundation toward further study and fluency
test into the fifth semester of their target language in college, thereby saving a great deal of time and expense toward a minor or major in the language*
receive college grants and scholarships
Participants also gain:
greater self-confidence, self-awareness, and independence
zest for experiencing new languages and cultures
desire to become part of a global community
lifelong friendships with program peers and host family members
increased appreciation and understanding of cultural differences and similarities.
*According to data collected pertaining to IUHPFL alumni attending Indiana University
IUHPFL requires applicants to complete a number of steps, starting with registration. Students who meet the eligibility criteria for IUHPFL will be invited to proceed with the application process, in which they will need to complete or request seven components:
Personal Application (Student Essay Questions)
Appraisal 1: Language Teacher
Appraisal 2: Other Teacher
Appraisal 3: Non-Academic (Non-Relative) Adult
Official School Transcript
Writing Sample in the Target Language
Applicants must provide separate email addresses for themselves and for at least one parent/guardian. As a rule, IUHPFL communicates via email and occasionally requests that parents/guardians confirm receipt of important information.
It is also essential that applicants and parents/guardians discuss and frequently check in with each other about the application process to ensure that all materials are received by the IUHPFL Office by the December deadline.
See How to Apply for details on the application dossier, process, and timeline.
IUHPFL's unique four-pillar approach provides its participants with many lasting benefits, including high proficiency in their target languages and priceless friendships and connections. We strive to keep Program Fees as low as possible for Indiana families and we are proud to be one of the most accessible high school study abroad programs in the industry. Still, we understand that participation in IUHPFL is a significant investment, and for this reason, we are committed to providing assistance and resources to families with financial need.
Financial Assistance through IUHPFL is available to applicants who qualify and is provided as a reduction in Program Fees. It is based on individual family need within the pool of program applicants. Awards typically range from $250 to $1,500, depending on the level of need.
Various scholarships are available by language and program site, some requiring an application to an outside organization by a certain deadline.
Fundraising and sponsorships require time and effort on the part of the student and his or her family, but they are well worth the effort.
Student-Guardian Orientation is an all-day Sunday event in April on the beautiful Indiana University Bloomington campus and is mandatory for students and at least one parent/guardian. Orientation is so vital to a student's success in the program that it is considered the first official day of the program.
At Orientation, students:
get to know their program peers
receive their course materials
receive their IUHPFL t-shirts (and wear them if they wish)
engage in a variety of teambuilding activities
Students and parents/guardians alike:
receive a site-specific Student Handbook with extensive program information, including program site calendars, excursion details, what to pack, health and safety protocols, and Honor Code-related items
meet IUHPFL instructors and office staff
get answers to all of their questions
sign important forms
commit to the IUHPFL Honor Code
More than anything, Orientation is fun! The IUHPFL Promotional Video on our homepage shows what Orientation is all about and how valuable it is to both students and parents/guardians.
The dates for Orientation are set months in advance in order to help families avoid scheduling conflicts. Make-up orientation sessions are not available.
For 2023 programs, the Student-Guardian Orientation will take place on:
Sunday, April 16th - All programs
Accepted students will find more information about Orientation in the Accepted Students section.
While abroad, students communicate with family and friends back home during one hour per week online, using their host families’ computers. Only written (typed) communication is permitted; no phone calls or video chats are allowed, except in cases of emergency and with permission from program instructors. Each week, students can decide to spend one 60-minute session or two 30-minute sessions online and they may communicate in writing using English or the target language.
To this end, students do not have access to smart phones or other devices with internet capability, beyond their host families' computers, during the program. IUHPFL provides students with a rare opportunity to be “off the grid” for several weeks.
While this aspect of the Honor Code might seem overly strict, experience has shown that the IUHPFL model of total language immersion for 5 or 6 weeks produces real results. Students return to the U.S. with a remarkable level of proficiency in the language, as well as an increased sense of independence and self-confidence. It also helps to alleviate homesickness, by facilitating the student’s ability to acclimate to the new time zone and culture and to connect with peers, instructors, and host family members.
Parents/guardians are sometimes surprised when their students don't use their weekly internet time and they are encouraged not to worry, as this is quite normal. The program keeps students very busy with a full itinerary of classes, activities, events, and excursions. Additionally, once students become comfortable with their peers, host families, and the language, they oftentimes prefer to remain focused on their surroundings. It’s generally accurate to say that the separation is harder for parents/guardians than for students.
Despite the lack of contact, parents/guardians can see what their students are doing onsite through the program site blogs that will be available through password-protected links on this website. Each site has its own blog, and it is the responsibility of one or two instructors to update it at minimum twice per week. The instructors do a wonderful job of posting photos, videos, and updates (in English), so that loved ones at home can see what their students are experiencing abroad.
IUHPFL is part of a rich study abroad tradition at Indiana University and, as a unit of the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs (OVPIA), is therefore advised by all university policies and procedures. Not only does IUHPFL work closely with OVPIA, but also directly with the Office of Overseas Study (OVST) on the Indiana University Bloomington campus. Decision-making and crisis management happen in accordance with university policies and in direct collaboration with university partners and authorities.
In an effort to ease concerns, IUHPFL encourages parents/guardians to keep the following information in mind:
Although not permitted to have their smart devices during the program, students are provided with a program cell phone, which allows for local texting and calling. Students have constant access to their instructors, host parents, program peers, and local emergency numbers.
The IUHPFL Honor Code includes the Rule of 3, which requires participants to be in groups of three or more IUHPFL students whenever they are not with their instructors, host families, or other designated adult supervisors.
IUHPFL Instructors are highly trained, both as employees of Indiana University or an Indiana high school and as a result of the intensive training they receive from IUHPFL. On each instructor team, at least one instructor is familiar with the host region and community. IUHPFL maintains a ratio of 7-9 students per one instructor, and no more than 30 or 35 students participate at each site. Therefore, each instructor team consists of 2 to 4 instructors, depending on the number of participants. At least one instructor on each team is CPR and First Aid certified.
With the exception of overnight excursions (when applicable), students stay with their host families for the duration of their time abroad. Host families are carefully vetted and matched with students according to common interests and other considerations. All host families are required to follow specific guidelines and to provide a nurturing home environment.
Each program site is overseen by an IUHPFL Onsite Coordinator who is a resident of the host community. These individuals support students and instructors on a daily basis during the programs and are familiar with all local resources, including doctors, hospitals, and therapists. They are in frequent contact with the Managing Director prior to and during the program and understand IUHPFL crisis management protocols.
Program Fees include Health & Medical Insurance, and medical care in all IUHPFL host cities is readily available and of high quality. It is important that parents/guardians disclose any and all health conditions and concerns, so that the best possible care can be given to the student while abroad.
The IUHPFL Office is experienced at handling urgent matters and emergencies and can access parties in Indiana and in the host country, generally with little or no wait time. The Managing Director is available by cell phone 24/7 during the program dates to respond to emergency situations.
Surveys for Students and Parents/Guardians
After the programs end, students receive a link via email to the mandatory online Student Exit Survey, which takes 60-90 minutes to complete and gives them an opportunity to evaluate all aspects of the program (instructors, host families, classes, etc.) and to share their comprehensive experiences of the program with the IUHPFL Office.
Student feedback is vital to the continued success of IUHPFL and is used to inform future policies and procedures. Students provide their names in the survey to track completion, but their answers are kept anonymous.
In September and once they have completed the survey, students will receive their IUHPFL Diploma by regular mail.
Parents/Guardians also receive a link to an optional online survey after the program. Their feedback about their experience with IUHPFL is extremely valuable and much appreciated!
Final Student Evaluation
In August, Final Student Evaluations are completed by program instructors. They are then emailed by the IUHPFL Office to the students, their parents/guardians, and the teachers who completed the World Language Teacher Appraisal (as part of the application dossier). The Final Student Evaluation encompasses many aspects of the student’s experience and progress during the program.
Promoting IUHPFL at School and Beyond
When students return from their IUHPFL experience, either as high school students or rising college freshmen, they are encouraged to support their world language classrooms and departments to the best of their ability. Additionally, alumni who finish the program in good standing (those who did not receive an Incident Report) are encouraged to talk with their high school world language teachers or contact the IUHPFL Office at firstname.lastname@example.org, if they would like to help present the program to potential applicants.
According to testimonials from program alums and parents/guardians, in addition to data collected on the Indiana University Bloomington campus*, the benefits of participating in IUHPFL are many and long-lasting.
Typically, program participants:
make remarkable strides in their ability to understand and speak the target language, resulting in a very strong foundation toward further study and fluency
test into the third year of their target language in college*, thereby saving a great deal of time and expense toward a minor or major in the language
are more likely than other university students* to:
study multiple languages
receive special scholarships
study abroad again and for longer periods of time
participate in more than one study abroad program
Regardless which college or university a student chooses to attend, it is only natural to build on an IUHPFL summer abroad by embracing international opportunities as an undergraduate.
Many IUHPFL alumni choose to attend Indiana University, because the IU Office of Overseas Study and other IU units and campuses offer more than 250 international programs in 17 languages and 52 countries. Once students enroll at IU, a visit with the helpful Overseas Study advisors will be an exciting opportunity to learn about spending a summer, semester or academic year abroad. The Office of Overseas Study is located in the same building as IUHPFL, the Leo R. Dowling International Center, on the beautiful IU Bloomington campus.
*per annual data analysis of IUHPFL alums attending Indiana University
It can often be more difficult for students to re-adjust to life in the U.S. than it was to acclimate to the host culture. In fact, it might even be challenging for them to speak English during the first several days after the program. Although the changes students go through while abroad are gradual, they are significant, and this becomes quite obvious once they are trying to settle back into life with their family and friends.
During their time overseas, students learn to see themselves and the world in a new light and, inevitably, they revise their interests and their goals for the future. This introspection can continue long after the program and it can be accompanied by a deep longing to return to the host country, as well as some frustration over the differences between the host culture and our own. This is a natural, even healthy, aspect of developing a more expansive view of the world and becoming a global citizen. It’s a spark that will inspire the student’s future studies, career, and life.
Although sometimes challenging and confusing, this time of “re-entry” into U.S. culture is a wonderful opportunity for parents/guardians to ask their students to share their IUHPFL experiences through photos, videos, and anecdotes. Looking at the program site blogs together can also be a great way of inviting students to share their memories. When parents/guardians show an interest in students’ IUHPFL experiences, the result is a deeper connection and better understanding of who students are becoming as young adults.
Honors Program in Foreign Languages resources and social media channels