I did things I thought I would never do and I'm better for it. September 20, 2018

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 06/16/2018 to 07/21/2018 with

IFSA: Merida - Medical Spanish and Public Health in the Yucatan

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I obtained a lot of Spanish vocabulary.

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.

It was not too rigorous. The toughest part was that there was a lot of bulk memorization that had to be done. The program did have a strong focus on having us experience, view, and learn that way. I appreciated that because it helped me understand what we were learning in class much better.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administrators were very considerate for our health, our experiences, and successful completion of the program.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

It was SO hot. While I am partially grateful for quick acclimatization, it is important to know whether or not you will need a cooler environment. The families were amazing, very accommodating and kind.

* Food:

The food was provided by the families. They paid great attention to eating restrictions, balanced meals, being respectful your preferences, and flavor!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

This was strongly emphasized in the program. We were encouraged to live as if we lived in Merida and participate in many local activities.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

It is a good idea to have a backup emergency source of money that can used internationally, just so you have money up front. I say this because I got treated. The best, most convenient source of care was a private hospital. The treatment prescribed was, in my opinion and the opinion of many doctors I consulted with after in the U.S. and there, very general. So general that I ended up spending over $250 in U.S. when adding the medicine and treatment together. The treatment was helpful and consultation was pretty quick. The CISI insurance reimbursed me for what I paid about a month after, but it was important that I had the money up-front.

* Safety:

Merida is a very safe city.

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

Everything about the program was great. I am very grateful to have participated in that program.


* 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 given that all your meals should be provided by your family.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? around $20 U.S., but mostly because I wanted to try new food. You could theoretically spend nothing on food. There are some very busy days where you will need a snack because afternoon activities go until much later in the evening.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Just be aware of how much you are spending. One easy way to do that is exchange set amounts of money (i.e. don't exchange more than $50 a week). I will warn you, however, the exchange rate changes daily and they are different at different exchange locations. So if you see a really good rate and you just happened to have some U.S. dollars with you, jump at it!


* 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 taught me a lot and I learned a lot.

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? 0
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? Use Duolingo, spanish dictionary, and most importantly try your best to communicate to everyone your eagerness to learn.

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 people I met
  • The things I saw
  • places I went that I would never imagine going
* What could be improved?
  • We missed out on shadowing because of H1N1
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If I studied a bit harder before I left my learning curve would have been a bit less extreme.

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.'