India: a challenging yet rewarding semester abroad. Past Review

By (Health/Medical Preparatory Programs., Case Western Reserve University) - abroad from 01/06/2014 to 05/10/2014 with

IFSA/Alliance: Manipal - Global and Public Health

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned about a completely different perspective on healthcare, and a completely different culture from my own. This experience was at times exhausting but absolutely worthwhile.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

University life in India is structured fairly differently in the states- professors expect students to spend all their free time studying, especially those in the health field. Despite this, the academic work expected out of the American students was fairly easy, and lectures can be pretty light and scattered in terms of content. While the integrated class setting was an interesting experience, there were never really clear expectations for the American students and the curriculum was pretty inconsistent. The smaller classes meant for just the American students (Hindi, Ayurveda, Contemporary Indian Culture, and Bharatanatyam) were more typical to the college experience in the States in terms of organization and were helpful in explaining the culture of India and putting our experience into context.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I cannot speak highly enough of our program coordinator and our assistant program coordinator. They were our number one advocates while we were abroad and made sure we had the opportunity to experience everything Southern India had to offer.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Living in a hostel among other students (both Indian and International) was a really cool experience and a great way to get connected to the university. I chose to live in a single although others opted for roommates. I did have a giant cockroach that lived in my room and the AC didn't work, but all in all it was a pleasant experience.

* Food:

I loved being able to easily eat vegetarian cuisine and being able to eat with my hand! I've always been a fan of Indian food, so having full-time access to cheap Indian cuisine was great. Chinese-Indian food was a pleasant surprise as well.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Within the university I felt very integrated among campus life and felt it was very easy to make friends and be a part of the community. But outside of Manipal I was always viewed as a tourist and treated as such.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I got sick, a lot. Getting access to healthcare was pretty complicated, but the program coordinators were pretty good at bringing you any basic medications you needed. GI problems were almost constant and other health problems were pretty frequent in our group, but you get used to it.

* Safety:

Manipal felt very safe and I never felt I was in danger at any point in my travels. Traveling in India is definitely challenging, but you just have to learn to be aware of your surroundings and respect cultural norms (especially as a woman).

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


* 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)

It's about 60 rupees to the dollar, so getting a really nice meal for a few bucks was very easy. Things add up though, so it's good to try and keep a budget.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Around $50- but I ate out a lot.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Make a weekly budget! And learn how to barter properly, it is a necessary skill.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • The food! (especially Alliance sponsored meals)
  • Learning Bharatanatyam
  • meeting new people and making new friends
* What could be improved?
  • Structuring of courses
  • communication with the University
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? You cannot buy stick deodorant in India.

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'