The most important educational aspect of studying abroad is for students to gain a complete appreciation and understanding of the location they are visiting. This is accomplished by immersing them as much as possible in the local communities. Students only use local transportation, have round the clock access to their local guide and make local friends (often peers of the local guide will join tours to meet American students).
Through using public transportation, shopping in markets, learning the local way of life and gaining other essential knowledge about traveling, our students become more comfortable with navigating new locations. They finish our programs with the confidence to travel independently in the future and a newfound eagerness to explore the world around them.
WE TRAVEL SMART
Our goal is to provide travelers with the most bang for their buck while abroad.
Our goal is to provide travelers with the most bang for their buck while abroad. This encompasses accommodation, transportation, culture, recreation, cuisine, and overall experience. For us, smart travel means experiencing foreign countries as a local, not a tourist. We will show you the best places to stay, transportation to use and where the locals hang out. You will learn how to travel efficiently, safely and sustainably. Additionally, we will provide opportunities to build connections with local people and culture, because travel isn’t just about checking destinations off a bucket list. It’s about building global consciousness and cultural awareness.
There are countless books, articles and websites offering smart travel advice. Researching, following smart travel tips, and planning ahead will all enhance your travel experience. But, no matter how prepared you are, something will always change and there will always be surprises. So take this advice; go with the flow, be patient, and enjoy yourself. The unplanned events, more often than not, will be the highlights of your trip. That’s part of the adventure. If going abroad for the first time, it can be difficult to know how to prepare and what to expect. Even a seasoned traveler can make mistakes. Here are a few tips that will help you prepare for your program:
- PACK LIGHTLY! We will be on the move, so bring only what you need. Use the recommended packing lists and watch our packing demonstrations. Try to bring multipurpose clothing that can be worn for several types of activities. We promise, if you pack lightly, you will thank us.
- RESEARCH YOUR TRAVEL DESTINATION. You will have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the places you are visiting. Also, research allows you to better plan your trip, ensuring you experience more and waste less time and money.
WHAT STUDENTS ARE SAYING
This trip was absolutely amazing. I learned a lot and enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve learned to be patient with everyone and to get to know everyone on a deeper level in order to have a more enjoyable trip. Being with these people for 12 days you become super close as if you were strangers in the beginning and a family in the end. This entire experience will forever be imprinted into my memory and I will miss this once we all go our separate ways. I hope to do more trips like this in the future!
I would encourage any student to take advantage of the change to visit Costa Rica with Study Abroad Association. Get out of your comfort zone and go! You won’t regret it. This trip will engage you on so many levels and you’ll leave as a true citizen of the world.
This trip provided an avenue to fully experience Costa Rica. From meeting locals to other foreign travelers, the accommodations gave students opportunities to discover other many other cultures. I would definitely recommend traveling with these guys!
The trip to Costa Rica was amazing. Despite it being planned I feel more prepared to potentially do a trip on my own someday. Having never been out of the country before this was the perfect first time. Rafting, water falls, and the wild life made everything worth it.
Everyone who gets the opportunity should take a trip with Study Abroad Association. In just nine days I have had an experience that I will treasure for a lifetime. My world has been expanded and now anything seems possible. This trip has changed the way I look at things. I have gained valuable understanding of foreign culture and insight into myself. This trip was a priceless experience.
This trip is an amazing way to travel to another country, expand your horizons and learn about different cultures. Additionally, the program was very affordable allowing anyone to come. It was a life changing experience. I am so happy we had Christian as our guide, he was amazing!
The Costa Rica trip was a wonderful opportunity that I was lucky enough to be able to experience. From day one till today, I have continued to learn so much about myself and the others on this trip. I feel like this is a wonderful way to experience the world around me. This trip was jam packed with so many fun activities that you are guaranteed to grow as a person and overcome fears.
This trip was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Being so close to other people, your hit head on with their quirks and graces. It really helps in spiritual maturity. The activities were fantastic and I encourage everyone to take full advantage of every opportunity. It was incredibly inspiring to see people step out of their comfort zone and face their fears. This has been the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. The tribe was very encouraging and helpful. Anytime I felt I was falling short they were right there to keep me going. I learned to accept others help, which can be hard for me sometimes. I am still entranced with the beauty and kindness of this country. I feel very fulfilled with this trip and plan on travel with Study Abroad Association in the future!
This trip has been very valuable in giving me the confidence to travel in European countries independently. The public transit was very easy to figure out, the locals were incredibly friendly and helpful and there was so much to see and explore. Having the relaxed atmosphere meant that I could diverge from the daily plan to suit our personal needs. I feel it has been extremely beneficial in showing cheap alternatives to traveling and has spurred friendships that will be great to have in any future travel plans. I look forward to exploring many more areas with Study Abroad Association.
This trip is the full package of experience types for someone that is interested in a first time international experience. My first experience abroad, with another company, was quite negative and left me rather jaded about travel and South America. However, this trip with Study Abroad Association was the poo-poo platter of culture, education, and experiences (Adventure) that makes it ideal. Not having to worry about the details of the trip really freed me up to enjoy myself and not sweat the small stuff. Even the activities that I was nervous about or not super interested in turned out to be really fun as we did them together.
Coming to Costa Rica has turned out to be one of the best decisions that I have made. I had never left the country before this trip, and, although it was a little nerve-wrecking at first, leaving the country gave me experiences that would be impossible otherwise. Being immersed into a culture that is so much different form your own opens your mind to explore these differences and their effects on the people who partake in that culture. In this case people have less than Americans on average, but they were okay with that. The gratefulness of the Ticos blew my mind. They were some of the happiest and most helpful people I have met. I would recommend this trip to anyone! It will grow you as an individual in ways you never though possible.
The London trip was amazing! I feel like I learned how to successfully survive in a city much larger than where I live. Mastering the tube was extremely satisfying. I also thought Christian and his crew did an amazing job introducing us to the local culture and people. This was definitely not a tourist, but a trip that could open your eyes to how others live their lives.
An unforgettable experience! I have learned so much I am very luck to have had the opportunity to be immersed in the many cultures of London. I definitely recommend others to attend the trip. I was able to gain so much from my adventures here and the freedom to be able to choose what I want to do was great! It was a truly wonderful time and I hope to come back. MIND THE GAP!
This trip really opened my eyes to traveling. Experiencing a different culture and a different motion is amazing and I can’t wait to do it again! Meeting locals and making friends, as well as trying so many new things has broadened my horizons and it has been priceless.
This trip was both entertaining and informative. I have done so many things in one week that I never though I would have the chance to do. It’s shown me a place and a culture completely new to me. Stuff I’ve only read about or seen on television. It was a truly awesome experience that I would do again in a heartbeat!
I miss the laid back feel of Costa Rica. It seemed like no one was really in a rush or that every minute of their day was planned out. My favorite part of the trip was being in the nature that looked like it was straight out of a movie. The beaches were all ours and we got to go hiking through multiple rainforests. I have grown so much as a person, I can travel internationally by myself. I would recommend this trip to anyone because you get to experience a whole new culture. PURA VIDA!!!
My favorite parts of the trip were going zip lining and visiting the different hot springs.I also really miss going to the beach almost everyday and I definitely miss all the people from Costa Rica. I would recommend this trip to everyone who is interested in learning Spanish or learning about a new culture.
This trip has given me a new appreciation for Londoners and how they live. I know more about the history and culture. I have loved being here and would go to London again in the future.You guys are awesome! Thanks for creating these trips. It was an amazing experience and a very good tim
In all seriousness, I came onto this trip alone and not knowing what to expect… and was pleasantly surprised. I made friends with nearly everyone, but felt as if our fearless team leader was the friendship that will last outside the trip. This has been a great experience that I will remember even as I continue on future trips.
All participants are provided a travel window during which their flight must arrive at their program destination. In the case that your flight plans change, please notify SAA immediately. Typically, an airport pickup can still be provided with ample notice of the schedule change. If you arrive late, we will do our best to catch you up with your group. SAA will notify you if an additional pickup fee is necessary when arriving outside the travel window. Travelers will be responsible for extra nights of accommodation and all other applicable expenses when arriving early.
SAA staff will have a list of arrival times and names. After exiting customs at the airport, your on-ground guide will be awaiting your arrival. Depending on location, you will either use public transportation to reach the city center or SAA will provide private transportation.
Absolutely! It is quite common for travelers to join a different program or explore independently. Please let us know, prior to arrival, of your wish to extend your stay and we will do our best to assist with your arrangements.
All travelers are eligible to participate in a SAA program. However, participants are typically between 18 – 40 years of age. If you are outside of this range and would still like to join a SAA program, please contact us and we will do our best to find you an appropriate trip.
Every program will have a local, full-time Program Director. The director is available 24-7, throughout the program, to assist our travelers. Our directors are very experienced and among the best of the best. Additionally, there will be other tour guides to assist the director. During study abroad tours, there will also be a professor present from the lead institution.
If a traveler encounters a problem while abroad, the program director should be notified immediately. Satisfaction and safety are our number one priorities and we are here for you. The program director will make an appropriate decision to assist with your situation.
Each program comes with a complete list of what is included for that tour. Programs usually include: accommodation, ground transportation, cultural & historical walking tours of each city visited, student life tours, recreational activities, daily breakfast, Welcome Dinners in each city, full time assistance, and local health insurance.
Yes, we actually recommend students use a debit card while abroad instead of carrying and exchanging cash. Utilizing a debit card, rather than exchanging money, saves travelers from paying the commissions that companies charge. Additionally, carrying large amounts of money while traveling makes you a target for pickpocketing and theft. ATM fees vary but are typically $3-$5 per transaction. Speak with your bank/card provider so that you are fully informed about any potential fees. Also, be sure to inform your bank/card provider of where and when you will be traveling. If you fail to do so, charges outside of your state will usually be seen as fraud and your card will be blocked.
We recommend limiting the amount of electronics you bring abroad. Losing equipment or valuables is the quickest way to put a damper on your trip. Most places of accommodation provide WIFI and communal computers. Additionally, internet cafes are abundant and local staff can advise you on which are best to use.
Yes, you will need a passport if your program is taking place out of the country your passport is registered in. Certain programs require visas. SAA will provide information on how to obtain your visa and visa requirements prior to the program.
SAA offers a life-time warranty on your program deposit. Meaning, if you have to cancel your program, you deposit can be credited to a future tour. Please, refer to the cancellation and refund policies included in your program’s Terms & Conditions.
The amount of spending money you should bring for souvenirs and extra activities can vary greatly. For example, a minimum of $250 is suggested for the 13 day Costa Rica program but at least $300 should be saved for traveling to the UK for 9 days. A suggested amount will be provided in the materials for your program that are provided during orientation.
Cash is usually the best way to go but you should not ever carry a large amount on you. Bring a small amount in order to get by until you can find an ATM and then make other ATM withdrawals as needed. Some banks do not have international fees for using your debit card and reimburse ATM fees. Check your bank’s policies to see what kind of fees you may be subject to. It may be worth your time to do a little research on different banks in order to save some money.
Most credit card providers charge international transaction fees when using your card abroad so relying on a credit card as your main source of funds is not advised. You should check with your provider to see what their policy is.
Debit cards are also subject to fees when used internationally but they are not typically as high as those applied to credit cards. Also, using an ATM to get cash rather than using your card for every transaction can cut back on the number of fees incurred. Again, check with your bank so you are aware of what you may be charged.
Whether or not you are required to take the course provided in a program is dependent on each school. While most courses are required, there are a couple of other options. Some institutions charge an independent traveler fee if not paying tuition for the course. Also, schools may choose to offer our program as a community trip which is open to everyone and does not include course credit.
When traveling, many types of terrain (dirt, gravel and cobblestone just to name a few) may be encountered and this can make a rolling bag more trouble than it’s worth. Backpacks are always easier to carry which allows for quick transfers onto buses, trams and subways. Also, on a majority of our programs students are expected to carry on their bags rather than check them while flying. This prevents luggage from being lost and saves time wasted waiting at baggage claim. Backpacks are more compact and therefore better for carrying on.
There’s an endless number of ways one of our programs can impact your life but here are just a few answers from our students:
I am now comfortable traveling abroad, can pack efficiently, know how to use public transportation and know when and how to travel in order to save money.
I gained a deeper understanding of the language and culture of a new country and am now inspired to learn more about it when I get home.
This trip contributed to my major in film and video because I was able to document and photograph an abundance of plants and wildlife.
Studying abroad to Costa Rica showed me the value in my science classes and that I should pay more attention.
I learned many different things about wildlife and how Costa Ricans are working to preserve their beautiful land.
Traveling to Eastern Europe opened my eyes to a new culture and lifestyle and allowed me to meet interesting and insightful people.
Lots and lots and lots of walking! We want our students to experience as much as possible while traveling so be prepared to move. Nothing is rushed in our programs but every day is full of activities. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to start walking as much as possible. Don’t be intimidated by this. All varieties of fitness levels have done our programs and enjoyed them. It will just be an easier transition if you’ve done a little preparation.
When preparing to travel with OKSA you should also apply for a passport if you do not already have one, make sure you have everything on the packing list that we provide and check out some guide books from your local library to learn about where you are going. A very detailed check list will also be provided at orientation to assure you haven’t forgotten anything.
A hostel is an establishment that provides inexpensive food and lodging for travelers, especially young travelers. Room options range from large dorms with bunk beds to private rooms. The layout of a hostel encourages a community atmosphere with large social areas for travelers to mingle and communal kitchens where everyone can prepare and share meals.
Hostels are just as secure, if not more so, than hotels. Many have the front doors locked 24/7 and require having a key or buzzing for someone to let you in. In a majority or cases it is far more difficult to sneak into a hostel than a hotel. However, you should always take wise precautions such as utilizing the lockers.