Botswana Study Abroad was an amazing experience! Past Review

By (Health: Science, Society, Policy, Brandeis University) - abroad from 05/26/2014 to 07/10/2014 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 in the clinic setting in Botswana and that was absolutely incredible. I gained a lot of knowledge about Botswana, Setswana culture and lifestyle, and Batswana. It was definitely worthwhile, and while I wish that I had had the opportunity to live with my host family and work in the medical clinics alone and travel by myself without the program, I still am definitely thankful to have had the program to guide me for this trip and enjoyed the program very much, I just would choose to do something a little more independently if I could go back.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I did not feel as though the academic rigor or intensity was as expected or where it should have been considering the coursework. There was a very strong emphasis on the Setswana coursework, and I definitely feel that I left the country truly speaking basic Setswana and communicating in the language. However, the Public and Environmental Health class was a very basic overview of very general topics in public and environmental health and I felt that it was not rigorous nor did I learn very much at all about public and environmental health issues in Botswana. The course did not address Botswana at all and was not specific to the issues we were hoping to learn about. The clinical internship reflection course was wonderful and I wish we had been able to work more with Dr. Phaladze and on that coursework.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

It was okay, I know that some other people had a bit of a problem with certain things and everything was kind of disorganized at times yet very planned for us, so that was often frustrating.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in a homestay and my host family was so wonderful!

* Food:

I loved the traditional Setswana food!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I really felt like I was living and participating in Botswana life.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

A friend was very, very sick on one of our excursions and did not really receive much help.

* Safety:

It is safe during the day, as long as you are smart about where you go. Pick-pocketing and petty crimes are common. We could not be outside or on public transportation at night, so that got annoying because it really limited the amount of time we could be exploring the area or outside doing things.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* 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)

Because I was living in a homestay and because Botswana's currency is worth much less than the US dollar (~9 pula=1 USD), it was very easy for me to live on a daily basis on a student's budget. However, I traveled a little during and a lot after my program, and that was very expensive.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? ~$50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Bring your lunch and don't buy snacks. When given stipends for meals, buy the food at a grocery store or buy the less expensive options so that you can then use that money for other things.


* 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

They encouraged us to in the classroom-setting sort of way but did not emphasize that it is respectful to use the language to say "Thank you", "Hello," and "Goodbye" to the people we pass or interact with, and I think it would have been nicer if everyone had known to do that.

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 a Setswana course before.
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 to Batswana!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • 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?
  • The medical clinic experience.
* What could be improved?
  • The courses
  • Organization overall
  • Giving us more freedom and free time
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known more about the coursework and the nature of the classes before going on this program.

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.'

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Public and Environmental Health Issues in Botswana

Course Department:
Instructor: Dr. Letsholo
Instruction Language: English
Comments: It was not challenging at all. The course did make use of the location and offer relevant field trips a few times, which was good but the field trips did not include an overview of what we observed and how they influence/address/are influenced by a particular issue in Botswana. Overall, a very disappointing course. The professor was never prepared and we always started class an hour late. I did participate in class as I would at my home institution. We were assessed based on one paper, three presentations, and one exam. The paper and presentations were all in groups, which also did not give us the chance to learn as much about a topic or to show what we had learned.
Credit Transfer Issues: Not yet, but I have not received my transcript from the program yet.
Course Name/Rating:

Setswana Language and Culture

Course Department:
Instructor: Phono Magosi
Instruction Language: English and Setswana
Comments: This course was challenging and very much made use of the location and offered many relevant field trips. The professor was very, very knowledgeable and well-prepared. I participated in class as often as I would at my home university. We were assessed based on participation, attendance, written and oral exams, homework, and attendance to field trips. This course required by far the most work both in and outside of the classroom.
Credit Transfer Issues: I will not receive credit for this course. I would suggest that students think about their focus in participating in study abroad when choosing this program. For me, I did mostly want the clinical observation/internship experience that the program offered but it is really important to me when in a host country to treat that country and people and culture with a level of respect and interest. I like to do this by learning some of the language and interviewing the people and seeing the important sights, so for me I gained a lot from this course despite not receiving credit.
Course Name/Rating:

Health Clinic Practicum

Course Department:
Instructor: Dr. Phaladze
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was challenging and made use of the location and offered relevant field trips. The professor was incredibly knowledgeable and well-prepared and I really wish I had been able to work with her more closely! I participated in class as I would at my home institution. We were assessed mostly based on reflection papers and participation. We were primarily working in the medical clinics for this course, and also took a fieldtrip to the Princess Marina Hospital. The rest of the course was reflection discussion and journal reflections or related research papers.
Credit Transfer Issues: Not yet, but I have not received my transcript from the program yet.