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How it Works
Our Program Models
While programs typically have common components, such as homestays, excursions, fieldwork, and language instruction, each program follows a unique schedule.
All programs examine a critical global issue and provide opportunities for close-up, hands-on engagement with that issue. From day one, you’ll be challenged to use your powers of observation and analysis. Program groups allow you to share experiences and learn from one another in addition to people in the host community.
We have four program models:
- Semester-long programs based in mainly one country and include a period of independent research or internship
- Semester-long comparative International Honors Programs that spend time in four unique sites, on four continents
- Summer programs focused on a critical issue or language
- Four-week-long Summer Innovation Labs
Programs start with a few days of orientation. You’ll get to know your group and the program’s director and staff and be introduced to the basics of all aspects of the program. Orientation covers health and safety, academics, and cross-cultural communication, along with other topics. For programs that travel to various locations, there will be orientations to each new location. Each program ends with debriefing/reentry sessions.
Schedules change frequently, and students should be prepared to be flexible. If the chance of a lifetime comes around, our program staff will adjust schedules to take advantage of the opportunity!
Semester programs based mainly in one country
Most SIT Study Abroad programs fit into this category.
On these programs, you tend to move into your homestay, where you will stay for most of the semester, right after orientation. The homestay is located in or near the program base. You’ll acclimate to the host culture while attending classes.
On many programs, students move into homestay accommodations soon after orientation and begin to use cultural and language skills right away. In the first weeks of the program, students spend quite a bit of time in structured classes and program activities, including language class, lectures, and field assignments. You’ll have thematic classes, receive formal language instruction, and learn field methods and ethics. You’ll go on field visits that give you a hands-on look at what you’re learning in your coursework.
In the next couple of months, you’ll go on excursions with your group. These excursions may range in length from a day to a few weeks. Some programs visit another country to give you another perspective on the themes you’re studying. Excursions are integrated into the curriculum.
You’ll spend the last four to six weeks of these programs on an independent project that represents the culmination of your learning throughout the rest of the semester. This could be an internship with a local business or organization, an undergraduate research project, a creative project, or independent language learning. Prior to this portion of the program, you’ll complete your thematic and language coursework and take your final exams. During this period, you’ll work independently, with direction from an advisor and the academic director. You may travel between different locations or stay in one area.
Finally, you’ll present your independent work, participate in program evaluation, and prepare to return home.
International Honors Programs
Each International Honors Program (IHP) gives you a comparative look at a critical global issue in four unique contexts. Each program spends time in four countries, on four continents. By spending substantial time in four locations across the globe, you’ll be able to examine a critical issue in vastly different contexts.
IHP semesters begin in a US city, where, over two weeks, you’ll be introduced to the program’s theme, examine it in the US context, and prepare for travel to the other program sites. You’ll then spend four to five weeks in each of the other program sites, where you’ll explore neighborhoods, visit NGOs, meet with experts, and engage with the host community. You’ll spend much of your time on the go, gaining a broad understanding of critical issues in urban and rural contexts within each country.
You’ll live with a host family for two to four weeks at each program site, except the US, where you’ll stay in a hostel. Your coursework will be taught by traveling and local faculty. Courses are responsive to and integrated in to the field program, allowing for a cohesive learning experience across program sites.
Each program also includes research, independent work, and group work. You’ll learn comparative field research methods and ethics so you can gather, analyze, and interpret information from a range of primary sources and produce a cumulative study project from research conducted throughout the semester.
Summer programs last for six to seven weeks. Much of your time is spent in the field, with visits to locations relevant to the program theme, such as NGOs, museums, government offices, hospitals, schools, and ecological sites. You’ll meet with local experts and community members to gain an understanding of their perspectives on the issues you’re studying. These excursions are combined with classroom lectures and discussions.
Most summer programs offer language courses—some offer intensive language instruction. Formal language instruction is enhanced with language practice in homestays and on field trips. On some programs, you’ll complete a practicum or research project. This is an opportunity for you to apply many of the skills and insights you’ve gained during the program.
Most programs also offer a homestay, which further enhances your immersion in the country. You may even have more than one homestay—in urban and rural settings—so you can experience daily life in different communities with different perspectives.
Summer Innovation Labs and internships
SIT’s Summer Innovation Labs are four-week programs designed to give you hands-on exposure to innovative ideas and solutions emanating from communities worldwide while gaining field-based, intercultural experience working on a specific project related to a basic human need, such as food, water, or shelter.
For the first three weeks of the program, you’ll receive a grounding in the issues surrounding the program’s theme. Through coursework, discussions with faculty and fellow students, meetings with experts and community members, and educational excursions, you’ll start to understand the challenges faced by your host community and innovations the community is making to combat these challenges.
You’ll spend at least three weeks living in homestays. Each program has at least two homestays in different communities so you can see different perspectives on the program’s theme.
All of these elements provide context and preparation for the collaborative project you’ll develop with community members. For the last seven to ten days of the program, you’ll work alongside local residents on completing this project, which will address a human-needs challenge in the host community.