Oaxaca: A Cultural, Artistic and Linguistic Self-Discovery Past Review

By (Art History, Philosophy, Spanish, Virginia Commonwealth University / VCU) - abroad from 08/29/2015 to 12/05/2015 with

Mexico Study Abroad Reflections: Comprehensive Reviews of Past Programs

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was absolutely worthwhile. I learned that I'm braver than I realized--that I'm able to push myself completely out of my comfort zone. I gained many things, including (but not limited to) language skills, deep friendships and a fuller understanding of Mexican culture and art.

Review Photos

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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.

I was very pleased with my professors, but, other than my Mexican Art History class, the courses were not particularly rigorous.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Incredibly helpful!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was very fortunate in having a fun and loving family with whom I shared many interests.

* Food:

My host mom was a FABULOUS cook. Again, I was very lucky to be placed in my home.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I think a lot of this is up to the student--I wish that I had traveled alone more and spent more time with my Mexican friends (other than my host brother, with whom I spent ample time). Sol did a wonderful job integrating its students into the local culture, especially through its cultural activities.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I myself did not have any serious health issues, but another student in my program went to the hospital twice and had nothing but great things to say about our program director, Eva Verardo (sp.).

* Safety:

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

Sol was wonderful. My program director, the cultural activities and excursions, and program accommodations were fantastic, not to mention the country itself.


* 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'd say I spent $5 a week on average. I didn't eat out much but did go shopping a fair amount (at least more than I would have in VA!).
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I didn't spend an insane amount, but I wish I had kept track of my expenses through a notebook or something.


* 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

While we used our foreign language skills most of the time (especially in the classroom and at home), I wish we were encouraged to speak in Spanish with our American peers more. (Although, admittedly, I don't know if we would have listened, since we were tired from speaking Spanish all day.)

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? I had completed the intermediate (200) level at my university.
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? Speak English at home, in the classroom and with your friends as much as you can... And don't stop once you're home! I'm lucky because my boyfriend is Latino and speaks Spanish, so that's a great way to continue practicing.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • My host family
  • Both the quality and quantity of cultural activities and excursions
  • The location
* What could be improved?
  • Honestly, every problem or concern I had was handled beautifully. I know this isn't helpful at all, but I can't think of any obvious areas of improvement.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known that I had to pick up and re-check my luggage while in Mexico City!