A Chance to Learn What Interested Me Past Review

By (Eastern Illinois University) - abroad from 03/10/2018 to 03/18/2018 with

Eastern Illinois University (EIU): Antigua - Spring Break in Guatemala

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned that while it may seem that the culture is completely different in Antigua, there are also similarities between our culture and the Guatemalan culture. I learned that my host family loved American music and they interacted with each other just like any American family would. I also learned how music is valued differently in Guatemala compared to the US. It was definitely worthwhile and eye-opening to experience a week in such a beautiful country with such nice people.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

We were constantly kept busy with activities, yet there were still downtimes where we were able to enjoy leisurely looking through the market. My personal teacher was very conversation-focused, which I liked considering I am fine with written Spanish but not quick-thinking conversation.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program was very accommodating and ensured that we were comfortable and safe. There was fresh Guatemalan coffee every morning and each teacher would be as friendly as if they were your own personal teacher

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My homestay family was so kind and fun. I learned a lot from them including my homestay brothers, who would walk with me to class some mornings and were incredibly patient with my Spanish

* Food:

The food was amazing! Everything was so fresh and delicious. The sweetness of the fruits and the flavor of the coffee are the things I miss the most.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Although the state department has a list of vaccinations to get before going to Guatemala, I did not receive any vaccines and neither did the professors on the trip. I did not have any issues health-wise myself.

* Safety:

The only fear I had was pickpocketing. I traveled with my roommate or another member of the EIU group everywhere I went. As far as I know, there were no safety-related incidents that occurred on the trip. Advice for future students would be to not display a lot of money and to keep track of your items while staying with a larger group. There is safety in numbers for sure.

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

This experience gave me the opportunity to travel abroad for the first time and live in a more authentic environment than a resort or tourist location. I learned about my own resilience and Spanish abilities, the culture of Guatemala and its people, and how music affects their lives just like it affects ours. I found that my teacher was open to discussing whatever I wanted to learn more about, and he based his lessons on my interests.


* 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)

The exchange rate made it extremely cheap to live for the week. Coupled with the fact that the homestay family provided most meals, and I had plenty of money to spend on souvenirs or to save. I'm not sure I even spent 75 dollars in American money for food or souvenirs.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 75 dollars
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Bartering for souvenirs is commonplace in Guatemala, and do not be afraid to do so. I was nervous to barter at first, but by the end, was able to do it efficiently. If you are not the bartering type, try to find someone in the group who can help you.


* 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

My teacher encouraged complete Spanish in our lessons and would not let me say the English word for a word I did not know in Spanish. I was expected to describe the word in Spanish until he understood what I was talking about

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Conversational Spanish FLS3000
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 your homestay family!!! They are there for support and are extremely patient with you learning the language. I also learned a lot from conversations at the dinner table with them.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • 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
  • The homestay family
  • The group I went with
* What could be improved?
  • More morning activities with the group
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew how flexible the vendors were with their prices and bartering. I was nervous about whether or not I was going to like the food because of how spicy I expected it to be - the food was not spicy, but sweet.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!