Paid study trip: This is how young people can apply


Discover the world young: ZIS Foundation pays for study trips

14.01.2022, 18:55

| Reading time: 6 minutes

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700 euros scholarship and off you go: The ZIS Foundation finances special travel experiences for 16 to 20 year olds. How to apply.

Berlin. Just go away for four weeks, right after school. Do whatever you want. Explore street art in Portugal, find the happiness of the Scandinavians or explore World War II bunkers on the French Atlantic coast. And it’s all paid for. There is not any? Yes, there is. That makes it possible ZIS Foundation for study trips with a special travel program for young people.

A teacher from France who taught at the Schloss Salem school near Lake Constance in the 1950s brought the idea with him. The headmaster decided that this would also be great for Germany. Sponsors who found the project exciting gave money. It all started in 1956, at that time still under the unwieldy name of International Study Travel Grants, or ZIS for short.

ZIS Study Trips: That’s what the project is about

ZIS is now a foundation with its own assets and a circle of friends who support it with membership fees. Additional money comes from private individuals and foundations. More than 2000 teenagers have already traveled with a ZIS grant, including the founder of Fairtrade, the former German ambassador in Moscow and the artist Anselm Kiefer.

He decided to follow in the footsteps of Vincent van Gogh through Holland, Belgium and France and also to see haute couture, the high art of tailoring in Paris. At the time, it was not foreseeable that Kiefer would one day become one of the most famous and expensive artists of our time. But ZIS encouraged him to keep a diary. This already includes: many sketches.

Immerse yourself in the country and organize yourself

the travel conditions of the foundation are simple: young people between the ages of 16 and 20 can apply with an idea for their trip. You are going abroad alone and should be on the road for at least four weeks. Flying is out of the question, because: “The path is the goal,” says Regina Schütt, physicist and one of around 30 voluntary ZIS mentors.

“If you sit in the transit bus for 36 hours, you might already get to know people who you would then like to interview in Istanbul.” There is 700 euros for the trip, the money is intended to cover all expenses. “This scarcity is the highlight,” says Schütt. Living in a hotel is not possible, you have to immerse yourself in the country and organize yourself. In addition, there is a lot about the topic and contact persons, sometimes free of charge accomodation, mostly the next contact.

Anyone who travels must have a diary lead, which will be handed in after the trip. As well as a statement of the tour and – important – a project report. Whereby it is broad: in addition to a text, a film, exhibition, photo documentation or other formats are also possible.

Applicants for study trips can bring their own topic

And the subjects? “You can do anything that interests you,” says Schütt, before giving a few examples. Willy, for example, went to Spain in 2019 to investigate the commercialization of God. In 2020, Lara explored 1414 kilometers of what makes Denmark a bike-friendly country.

It has already been about whaling in Iceland, the journey from sheep to sweaters in the Faroe Islands – including a day and a half journey by ship – the value of the sauna for Finnish society. Someone also walked through Sweden in the footsteps of Astrid Lindgren, and the role of women in post-socialist Hungary was also considered.

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Ideas came from English swimming pools, Andalusian monks, birds at Cap Ferret, glacial geology and church music. It’s not always as adventurous as it was in 1968. At that time, a ZIS traveler landed in the middle of the Prague Spring, felt the dawn and found himself at conspiratorial meetings of Czech youth. In his diary he tells of Russian tanks in the streets.

Online application: young people who are interested must show this

the application for a scholarship runs online. What is needed is a topic, a roughly outlined one travel concept along with a financial plan sketch and the recommendation of a teacher or a group leader. Very important: Commitment and interest must be clear. And the idea has to be good.

School performance is not important. The mentors, former ZIS travelers, select the candidates from the applications and then support them in developing the travel concept and financial planning. If everything fits, there is the final one grant approval.

After the trip, the project is read by several mentors and there is extensive personal feedback, not only on the report but also on personal strengths and weaknesses and what the person should look out for going forward.

These can be the pitfalls of a ZIS study trip

Regina Schütt was on the road with ZIS herself and dealt with alabaster and sculpture in Tuscany. And she knows about the pitfalls of a journey. Because things never go smoothly. Either the commitment to free accommodation bursts, or the ride doesn’t come. But: “Somehow something always happens if you don’t give up,” says Schütt.

“You have to speak to people. You are alone, but not lonely. And it always brings something – for the topic or for the person who travels.” Above all self-consciousness. At least that’s what those who left radiate. Some find their vocation on the journey.

Traveling despite the corona pandemic? 3 tips

  • In many cases, the corona restrictions make the situation more difficult. All trips are made taking into account the current risk assessments of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the Federal Foreign Office on the pandemic situation, among other things, and can be canceled at short notice by the foundation.
  • To avoid travel destinations with many transit countries, 2022 is also travel within Germany allowed. However, the travel project should be located outside of a radius of at least 50 kilometers from the applicant’s place of residence.
  • The application deadline for this year’s trips is 15. Fe­bruar. Further information is available at


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