Botswana- What you make of it Past Review

By (Public Health., The University of Texas at Austin) - abroad from 05/27/2013 to 07/14/2013 with

CIEE: Gaborone - Summer Community Public Health

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a lot of experience from working in the clinics and volunteering, which was what I was looking for. I met great people. The physical and cultural experience is more valuable than the classroom experience.

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.

Although this was a public health program, little information was given prior to the program. One hundred volunteer hours were done as well as classroom lecture. This clinical period was geared toward pre-med students. There was little exposure to fields specifically in public health that were separate from medicine such as health promotions, epidemiology, or health management. I was hoping to gain more experience in terms of public health aside from medicine. The classes did a good job of giving basic public health information and information on diseases. The intensity of the classes varied and were not too hard to manage. I would recommend bringing a laptop and notebooks to take notes and write essays on.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

For those that lived on campus, food was on your own all the time. This usually means doing groceries and cooking for yourself. For those that lived with a host family, they usually ate dinners with the family.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I lived on campus so I had to find ways to get more involved with the culture, which could be a challenge sometimes. However, people who lived in a home stay did get access to culture firsthand. The home stay in the village (one week) gave the best experience of what I was expecting.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

HIV and TB are the more prevalent health care issues in Botswana. Since students are working in clinics, it is advisable to cover your cuts and try not surround yourself with people who are coughing.

* Safety:

Be smart about your finances. I didn't see anything that caught me off guard.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? ~$60 USD
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Although it's tempting to try and eat out a lot- you can limit this by eating at the same place a lot and cooking instead.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

People in Botswana speak Setswana but a vast majority of the people know English so it is easy to get by.

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 no prior experience with Setswana.
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? If you're in it to learn the language, it is best to do a home-stay because you'll be surrounded by people who all speak Setswana.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
* 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?
  • I liked the clinical experience the most and the exposure to the public healthcare system.
* What could be improved?
  • There should be an option to work with people who are in the public health field. This program should be indicated as one that is geared toward pre-med students.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I would have known that the summer program does not have any type of placement into a public health type setting and the clinical/ volunteer hours are to be done at clinics as part of the classroom grade.

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.'