Huge Gains Despite Virtual Format February 05, 2021

By (New York University) - abroad from 06/15/2020 to 12/11/2020 with

American Councils (ACTR): Balkan Language Initiative

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The program was online due to the pandemic, but it was 100% worthwhile. I went from knowing no Bosnian at the beginning of the summer to scoring an Advanced Mid (C1) speaking proficiency in two months. Then during the fall semester, when I did the program again, I was reading novels, watching movies without subtitles, and analyzing the news! I couldn't recommend American Councils - whether abroad or online - enough if you want to improve your language skills.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?


* Food:


* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Especially for the program being 100% virtual due to the pandemic, I was pleasantly surprised by how immersed I felt! Classes were 8-16 hours a week, including cultural components and language partner conversations, so I really got a deep dive into Balkan history and culture despite not physically being there.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?


* Safety:


If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Even though, due to the pandemic, the entire program was virtual, the staff was so excellent that I was able to get close to every one of them, and I made huge gains in my linguistic and cultural knowledge.


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)


Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? N/A
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? N/A


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I had never studied the target language (BCS) before.
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Do what you enjoy doing in your native language, but in the target language! I love listening to music, reading novels, and watching YouTube videos, so I sought out all of those in BCS. It helped me acquire the language much quicker.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • N/A
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Quality of instruction
  • Sense of community
  • Program structure
* What could be improved?
  • Honestly, nothing!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? It's okay to be burnt out sometimes!

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!