Study Abroad

There are many ways for Human Development and Family Studies majors to gain international experience, from a ten-day faculty-led study tour to summer courses or internships abroad, to studying at a partner university for a semester or academic year. Study abroad can take you to destinations all around the world – from South America, to Africa, to Europe, to Asia – via programs offered by the College of ACES and study abroad offices across campus. You can find a list of study abroad program destinations of interest to HDFS students here.

One of the most popular opportunities for our students is the 3-week Service-Learning Study Tour in Cape Town, South Africa at winter break.  As part of this experience, students volunteer in health-care clinics, shelters, facilities for children with physical disabilities, community gardens or another site best suited to their interests. They also experience the spectacular landscape and diverse cultures of South Africa.  Great preparation for a variety of careers and an unforgettable, transformative learning experience! Here's a video about this trip: https://youtu.be/EYU8IfomYbQ 

Students with health-care related career interests may be interested in the three-week summer ACES Faculty-Led Service-Learning Health Care and Animal Rescue in Zimbabwe program. This trip includes a cohort of students interested in child health and a cohort interested in veterinary medicine and animal protection careers. HDFS students experience shadowing and participation in ethically approved assistance tasks as they learn about delivery of medical care in public hospital settings in urban and rural Zimbabwe. Tourism includes a visit to Victoria Falls, amazing hikes, and a safari experience. Here is an exciting video about this trip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNEpfsqIGj8 

Study for a full semester in Cape Town, South Africa and complete an internship custom fit to your career goals or interests! Students select either spring or fall semester, take two courses at the University of the Western Cape, and complete an HDFS internship, for a full semester's course credit. Weekend tourism, hiking, safari, and other side-trips across the various geographic regions of South Africa are readily available. Check out this video clip to see some of our previous ACES students' experiences: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1797845383603724 

Prefer to stay at home? Remote online team internships are available with social service and child-health oriented agencies located in Cape Town, South Africa, with a guided HDFS eight-week course. This is a great solution to current pandemic travel restrictions and provides an impressive item on any student resume, and can be done independently of or in addition to a travel program. Student intern teams include undergraduates from Illinois and South Africa's University of the Western Cape. Participating agencies' work focuses on HIV prevention and treatment, impacts of Covid-19 on children, and childhood trauma. Please contact instructor Jan Brooks at dickson@illinois.edu for additional details about this course, as well as the other South Africa and Zimbabwe travel programs. Independent virtual internships with agencies in Austria, Spain, India, Brazil, and Greece (just to name a few!) are available through the ACES Study Abroad Office as well. More information and a full list of available options can be found in the My Study Abroad database.

You'll find a wealth of information in the ACES Study Abroad planning pages, including tips on how to identify a program that's right for you and lists of top programs by country and major.

How to get started finding your own study abroad experience

  • Know your options! Search for programs at studyabroad.illinois.edu
  • Meet with the College of ACES International Education Director in 128 Mumford Hall. To set up an appointment, email aces-studyabroad@illinois.edu
  • Talk to HDFS and other students who have already studied abroad.

Four-Year Plans for Study Abroad

Study abroad will almost certainly fit into your four-year graduation program if you plan ahead. There are opportunities for HDFS students to study abroad as early as winter break of their first year. Be sure to work with your academic advisor to plan your coursework so that your time abroad won't disrupt your regular progress toward your degree. You can also work with your advisor as you identify which courses you might take at your chosen university destination.