An amazing service-learning opportunity in a culturally fascinating location Past Review

By (Modern Languages and Philosophy, Seton Hall University) - abroad from 05/22/2014 to 06/28/2014 with

IPSL: Peru - Environmental Justice, Indigenous Health and Human Rights

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My Spanish abilities greatly improved, I now have a much better understanding of Peruvian and Latin American history and culture, I made wonderful friends, saw amazing historical and cultural sites, and grew in my understanding of service.

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.

Absolutely wonderful professors, interesting classes

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Generally good, although there was miscommunication between the host country administration and my host parents which led to tension between my host parents and me. Additionally, one of the administrators was consistently manipulative and rude.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had my own room and bathroom, and wifi was provided, so that aspect was perfect. However, I don't think that there was enough effort put in to see whether my and my host family's interests and personalities were a good match, which led to some tension.

* Food:

The food was really delicious, and my only wish was that it was more balanced--less potatoes and rice, more vegetables.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The combination of a home stay, volunteer work, and course on Institutions in Peruvian Society really helped me feel integrated. I do wish that I had the opportunity to meet Peruvians my age who shared my interest.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did get sick in Peru, and one of the administrators came to my homestay, rode in the taxi with me to the clinic, and helped me through everything. The clinic itself was very efficient. I couldn't have asked for a better experience.

* Safety:

I always felt very safe in Cusco, although I did have to be careful about pickpockets.

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


* 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)

Cusco is very inexpensive, which made budgeting very easy. However, I had not anticipated having to pay for multiple public transit trips each day (to school, back home for lunch, to my service placement, back home for dinner, back to the main square for socializing, etc.), especially since I had been told that I would be able to walk to and from most places.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $75
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Take the bus when you can and take advantage of the meals provided to you by your host family


* 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

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
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? Intermediate
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? Take full advantage of being in a foreign language environment--while being with (English-speaking) friends is also a very important part of the experience, be sure that you're also taking every opportunity to speak in the language of your host country.

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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Location
  • Community service
  • Classes
* What could be improved?
  • Pre-departure communication from IPSL
  • Communication with home institution
  • Communication with host family
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The Peruvian diet is very heavy with carbs and meat and does not have very much vegetables. Additionally, Peruvian families tend to be very protective, which can be interpreted as overbearing to Americans.

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!