The best semester Past Review

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/06/2016 to 05/14/2016 with

IFSA: Merida - Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I really improved my Spanish and learned about living in a different part of the world. I will definitely reflect on my experience in Mérida when I make future life decisions - I learned about myself and what I want my life to be like.

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program staff was so helpful and welcoming - I really felt like I could go to them for anything.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host mom was perfect! She's been hosting students for years and is really an expert. She always made me feel totally welcome.

* Food:

Mexican food is incredible, and as a vegetarian I had no problems.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The local people I met were incredibly friendly and fun to be around, and I definitely felt like I made some real, lifelong connections. On the other hand, after only 4 months it's impossible to completely lose the feeling of being a tourist. It's ok though - it just makes me even more eager to go back!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had to go to the doctor a couple of times, and my host mom and the program staff helped me for both. Although being sick is always stressful, they made it go as well as possible.

* Safety:

Mérida is very safe! Common sense is, in general, all you need to avoid problems.

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

I learned so much and had so many great experiences - I wish I could do it all again!


* 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)

Living in Mexico is much cheaper than living in the US. I chose to travel a fair amount and this is how I spent most of my money - if I had stayed in Mérida the whole time, I really would have spent next to nothing.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Usually less than $20
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Eat with your host family - the food is better, you'll spend more time bonding with them, and it's included in the program cost. Bring your student ID everywhere!


* 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

When I was with the other American students, it was easy to lapse into English. However, this was our own fault!

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? College Spanish literature course
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 with your host family and make local friends!

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

  • Local Students
  • 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 - both Mexicans and other study abroad students
  • Living in Mérida
  • Traveling around Mexico
* What could be improved?
  • The program-taught courses
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That it is possible to take classes in departments other than anthropology, but you will have to arrange it basically by yourself (I wish I had done that!)

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!