ISA Multi-Country: Guanajuato, Lima, and Peru in 15 weeks! Past Review

By (Spanish, International Studies, Latin American Area Studies, University of Minnesota - Morris) for

International Studies Abroad (ISA) - Reviews from Former Locations

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Yes. I enjoyed challenging myself to improve my language skills and push myself outside of my box to get to know the people and city around me. I have the travel bug and want to get out and get to know the world around me!

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Universidad de Guanajuato, Universidad del Pacifico (Lima), Universidad de Belgrano
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.

The multi-country program uses a study center format where courses are taken alongside other international students participating in the program. The workload was lighter than my home university and content course expectations were lower. The language-based courses were comparable to language courses at my home university.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I really enjoyed getting to know the host country staff and appreciated their assistance in orienting us to the locations. Three countries in fifteen weeks in a too little time to really get to know the area and have a true understanding of life in that area. Since I participated in the program they have cut the program back to two locations in the semester. It would have been nice to have more opportunities to meet with local students and combine language classes for conversation partners.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

In Mexico and Peru I was definitely treated as a family member. I helped cook, run errands, and do some chores in the house and was invited to participate in family activities. In Argentina I was treated as a guest or client. I lived in the house and tried to spend time with the family but was never invited to participate in family activities or told if the family would be gone for the day or several days. I was in good/safe locations in each city and traveled the cities by foot often. In Lima I took a bus for about 1.5 hours each morning and evening to get to the university and home (there was construction). In Guanajuato and Buenos Aires I walked about 30 minutes or less to get to the university. In Guanajuato most things were within a 30 minute walking distance. In Buenos Aires I was a few blocks from the Subte station so could easily get around the city. I loved my neighborhood in each city and each had a little something different to offer.

* Food:

Mexico - I usually ate with my host family and my host mom and Marisol were amazing cooks! Lunch is big and dinner is light. All meals were included with the homestay. Peru - Arroz y pollo (Rice and chicken) is a very common meal and delicious. Breakfast and supper were included with the homestay. I would recommend Chifa when dining out (Peruvian Chinese food). Argentina - Breakfast and lunch were included with the homestay. My host family usually just had coffee for breakfast so I bought myself cereal and juice. My host family also wasn't big on dinner and often ate supper around 11 pm (many students' host families ate dinners that were comparable to what they usually had at home). Empanadas were great and you can buy meals cheaply at a grocery store or pick up a fruit salad at most tiendas.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Many of the included excursions are to places that you would likely not go to otherwise while the places that you have heard of and are more likely to go are optional (and additional cost) excursions. The best excursions that I decided to go on were to Machu Picchu (Peru) and Iguazu Falls (Argentina). In the art class that I took in Peru we also were able to visit many museums in Peru and visit an artist in his studio. It was a very cool way to learn about art history and allow us to experience it more rather than just looking at slides.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

All city's felt relatively safe. The key is to pay attention to where you are, who is around you and social cues. Keep track of your things and don't carry your valuables/passport out in the open (leave important things in your room when you are able to, carry a photocopy of your passport rather than the real thing). We had two students in the hospital during parts or our program and several of us were sick at various points. There was a language barrier when visiting clinics and pharmacies so we tried to go in pairs so that we could help assist each other (often when you are sick Spanish all of a sudden sounds a lot more complicated than it does when you feel well). We went to a immunization clinic in Peru to get the Yellow Fever vaccine prior to visiting Iguazu Falls in Argentina due to a new requirement. Everything went pretty smoothly. Bring medication for malaria! I was sick for much of my time abroad and treated for malaria once back in the states.

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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

I practiced Spanish with my roommate and host family as well as in language-based courses. I also practiced Spanish with people in my community while wandering the area and meeting locals. As all courses take place with program participants, it was challenging to meet and get to know local students. Program participants often defaulted to English and it was challenging to make everyone speak Spanish when group members were together.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you want to see a little bit of a lot of places this is a good way to do it. ISA works to help you learn a lot about your host city and country during the brief time that you are in each site. Be flexible, push yourself to use Spanish as much as possible, and get to know (and stay in touch with) people from the area.