Journey to Jamaica: Life Changing Past Review

By (Exercise Physiology, West Virginia University) for

Amizade: Jamaica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I also thought that I wanted to work on a medical cruise ship that provided medical care to third world countries. However, I didn't know how I would handle other cultures or being away from home. This trip helped me realize that I should be able to do this job.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The education of this trip was very similar to a literature or English course. We were required to complete a certain number of readings before class, and we were respond to journal questions in our Amizade journal. The readings were very educational and focused on the local community, global citizenship, and the importance of studying abroad.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The community was very welcoming, but there were some communication issues. For example, we were told that we would work with a camp population in regards to sports and crafts, but we ended up helping prepare them for a national exam. I personally feel that I could have been more helpful if I would have known this in advance.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My housing situation was very nice. Electric bills are very high in Jamaica, so we were asked to turn off the lights as much as possible. There was no air conditioning, but you got used to it. In addition, there was no hot water, but whenever there is no air conditioning, lukewarm showers are quite welcome. The houses are simple, but they are quite nice. Housing was arranged for us by Amizade, and the neighborhood was quite safe. However, my friend who was on a running team had some issues whenever she went for a run. It was nothing major, but she often had guys stopping to talk to her and trying to get her phone number. The house was very close to class since we were all located in a similar neighborhood; however, we did not have the opportunity to participate in any nightlife activities. We had to get permission from the local director in order to do any activities that were not scheduled.

* Food:

The food was fantastic, and I took a Cultrelle supplement to "prevent traveler's sickness." I did not get ill at all throughout the trip. We did not dine out much at all in the two weeks. However, my professor was a vegetarian married to a vegan, and they found dietary accommodations to be fairly bland and somewhat shortsighted.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We compared a local beach to a tourist beach, jumped off of cliffs (a tourist attraction), went to a "healing springs," visited an underground slave route, went souvenir shopping in a market, did chicken plucking, saw Kingston, Montego Bay, and Negril. In Kingston, we went to a local university, a local radio station, Emancipation Park, and the National Heroes Park. They were very fun and educational.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

We traveled everywhere with local Jamaicans, so we did not have to worry about being taken advantage of for being "tourists." We were recommended to have a hepatitis A vaccine, but they did not see that treatment for West Niles virus would be necessary. However, we did experience a lot of mosquito bites on our trip. Anti-itch creme is a must as well as sunscreen if you are easily burned.

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)

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I would suggest a short program for those who are most hesitant to participate in a longer study abroad program. It's a great way to get your feet wet.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Global Service Learning: Community Development in Rural Jamaica

Course Department: Exercise Physiology 499
Instructor: Beth Nardella
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The coursework itself was not challenging; however, the challenge was finding the time to do the readings among the volunteering and recreational activities that were offered. The class was usually held at one of the host family's home. Yet, we did interact with the local community volunteers that we were with and held the class at the local camp we were working at as well. The teacher was very well prepared for the trip, and she made participating in the course easy and fun.
Credit Transfer Issues: No, because I took the course through my home institution.