Cows, daal, and yoga April 13, 2017

By (Franklin & Marshall College) - abroad from 08/21/2016 to 12/10/2016 with

IFSA/Alliance: Varanasi - The City, The River, The Sacred

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained insight into a culture very different from my own. I began questioning my own culture and learned a lot about myself. Yes, definitely worthwhile.

Review Photos

Alliance for Global Education: Varanasi - The City, The River, The Sacred Photo Alliance for Global Education: Varanasi - The City, The River, The Sacred Photo Alliance for Global Education: Varanasi - The City, The River, The Sacred Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Classes required a lot of reading and analysis of the articles. All articles were provided and individual research papers were required for each core class. The program director and teachers were great with assisting students with the various assignments.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Lara Ji and Rahul Ji were great. Both of them were present and available to help students assimilate to the Varanasi.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was very satisfied with my housing. I had my own bedroom and bath downstairs with another American girl and our host family lived upstairs. I had one host brother (3yrs) and a host sister (12yrs) that were fun to play with. The girl spoke excellent english and was able to translate a lot between the family and the other american girl and me.

* Food:

Food was good but very repetitive. Daal and rice and chupati and subji will forever have a place in my heart, but sometimes the spices got the best of my stomach.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt pretty integrated with the culture. However, I did spend a lot of time with the other students in my program.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The program has insurance that covers everything. I got really sick and had to get blood tests and visit various doctors and hospitals. Certain hospitals billed the insurance agency directly while for others I had to save receipts and send them to the insurance agency myself. Doctors were knowledgable and helpful.

* Safety:

I experienced no threat to my safety and felt very safe most of the time. That being said, we were advised to be home by 10pm every night and not go to certain neighborhood.

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

It was very rewarding and I learned and grew more than I could have hoped.


* 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)

Very easy, food was provided by the program center and host family. Food at restaurants was cheap, as were clothes.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? About $20-$30.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Eat as much food that is provided to you as possible, but also venture out to find different food. Don't buy expensive clothes if you will only wear them in your host country. Be stingy with your money, many people/beggars will target foreigners and try to take advantage of their money.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I had never taken Hindi prior to departure, but I had taken upper level Spanish classes.
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Talk with store owners and your host family as much as possible. Most locals are very grateful and encouraging of foreigners attempt to speak their local language.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
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?
  • My host family
  • The meals prepared at the program center
  • The field visits.
* What could be improved?
  • The structure, so more weekends could be free for traveling.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Shoes you can slide on and off would be very helpful since you cannot wear shoes inside most places. I had to bend to unstrap and strap my shoes very often it got to be fairly annoying.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:


Course Department: Gender Studies
Instructor: Swarnali De
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Yes, the course was a little challenging, but the teach was always very prepared and each class was very interesting. Participation was common, but it was a lecture-based class. Only six students were in the class so all questions could be answered. We had to write a paragraph about each reading that was due at the beginning of class. There were also field reports due a week after each field visit and two four to six page papers due throughout the semester. I was given fairly good grades, ranging from a high B to an A for all assignments.
Credit Transfer Issues: I did not have any trouble transferring the credit to my home institution.