A month in Mexico. Extended vacation. Three weeks trekking Europe. Might as well be on a tour.
For a long time, short-term study abroad programs were considered academically undemanding, "educational tours," not worth the time, money, or course credits. Recent studies, however, are backing up what many students know from experience: short-term programs offer opportunities for personal and intellectual growth that match those gained in traditional semester- or year-long study abroad programs. According to research conducted by the University of Delaware's Center for International Studies (IIE Networker, spring 2004), students who have spent even three weeks studying in another country report a greater understanding and appreciation of other cultures and customs, a heightened awareness of their country's identity and place on the world stage, and a better idea of what is required to be a "global citizen."
For students who wish to have the experience of studying abroad and getting a taste of another culture but perhaps do not have the time, money, or resources to complete a traditional semester or year abroad, short-term programs are ideal. Programs are conducted in a wide range of countries; your school's study abroad office will have information on the programs available. You can also find potential programs on sites such as IIEPassport, which includes an online student handbook with plenty of useful information on finding the right short-term study abroad program and maximizing your stay in a foreign country.