Merida's Lasting Impact on Me September 27, 2018

By (Berea College) - abroad from 05/28/2018 to 06/27/2018 with

KIIS: Merida - Experience Merida, Summer Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained so much from this experience, the most tangible of which was my increased capability to speak and understand Spanish. I would definitely say that my experience was worthwhile as I have grown so much through it and can honestly say that I am a better and more well-rounded person because of it.

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.

The academic component of my study abroad program was incredible. I learned so much more about Latin American Civilization and Culture than I possibly could have in any other context. The content both required me to think critically about Latin American identity and history and also to learn how to interpret that information through a lens very different from the one I developed growing up in the United States.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The on-site administration of my program was really great. I felt tremendously supported by both Dr. Zavala-Garrett and Dr. Post throughout the entirety of my time abroad.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My housing situation was very nice. I enjoyed the company of my roommate, and the room that we had to share was very comfortable. We had enough space, the room was always clean, and I enjoyed being there. The home itself was lovely. I definitely enjoyed being there and living at my homestay.

* Food:

The food was delicious during my entire stay in Merida. I never encountered a meal that I didn't like, and my host mother was very accommodating to any requests that my roommate or I had.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt very integrated into the local culture during my time in Merida. I enjoyed going out at night with some of the other girls in my program to engage with locals and do things like participate in events and go dancing. I would have liked more free time during the day to go out and spend more time amongst locals but was unable to due to the way that my classes were scheduled, so that would be the only thing that I would have changed.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

My experience with healthcare was phenomenal while I was in Merida. I got sick for a couple days during the last week of my study abroad program with some sort of stomach issue. It was bad enough that I skipped class one day and could hardly get out of bed. I went to a doctor down the street from my host house and was examined and given a prescription. The appointment was a walk-in, and I was able to see a doctor within 20 minutes of arriving. Dr. Zavala-Garrett was there to help translate for me, because I was unable to do so for myself because of how I felt. The appointment was entirely free, and the three different medications that I was prescribed only cost $5 USD, which was really shocking to me. Overall I felt very cared for during my illness and the program staff were very accommodating as well.

* Safety:

I always felt very safe in Merida during my time there. I would walk around downtown at night with just my roommate and there was never a time where we felt unsafe.

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

I thoroughly enjoyed the entirety of my study abroad and would definitely choose the same program would I have the opportunity to do so.

Finances

* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I probably spent less that $75 a week on food and other expenses each week that were not included in my program expenses.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I think that the most important thing is understanding the exchange rate very well of wherever you study abroad. This will help you keep exact track of what all you're spending.

Language

* 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

Both of my courses were taught almost entirely in Spanish, and my host mother only spoke Spanish, so a majority of my experiences during my study abroad trip were conducted entirely in Spanish.

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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Spanish 310
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? Practicing speaking as much as possible beforehand and reviewing grammar concepts that you have difficulties with as well.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • 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?
  • Courses
  • Excursions
  • Host Family Style Housing
* What could be improved?
  • Scheduling classes to allow for more free time in the afternoons to explore the city
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I didn't have any reason to be nervous about my ability to understand and speak Spanish in my classes, and that I would learn and grow so much during my experience

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!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Latin American Civilization and Culture

Course Department:
Instructor: Dr. Itza Zavala-Garrett
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: This course was really fantastic. I learned so much about Latin American history and culture, in a way that was very different from interpretations I had learned from before. Being in one of the countries that we spoke so extensively about, and understanding the topics from the perspective of the people whose history and culture we were discussing was truly eye-opening. It was one of the best academic experiences that I've ever had.
Credit Transfer Issues: