Oaxaca: The Missing Chapter in my Life! Past Review

By (Benedictine University) - abroad from 07/01/2017 to 07/29/2017 with

Mexico Study Abroad Reflections: Comprehensive Reviews of Past Programs

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a little bit of everything. Language. Culture. What I can do to better my own life. And much more. This experience was intense, but fun, insightful, amazing, and unbelievable. Words really can't describe how much I learned, but it definitely changed many of my previous attitudes towards life.

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.

The classes were perfect for a 1-month immersion experience! The teachers were excellent, and I was given work that is comparable to university-level courses. I definitely learned a lot from the courses I took (Latin American Literature and Advanced Composition) and I would recommend these courses to any students interested in studying in Oaxaca! The only drawback would be that the courses didn't appear to cover all of their intended material, but this is understandable due to the short schedule (4 weeks to cover two, 3-credit courses).

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The on-site directors were phenomenal! At first, I didn't expect to see them very often, but that changed fast as I saw them very often during program activities. But they were also great company, and I'm sure that the experience would not have been as enjoyable if they had not been there with us!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My arrangements were so great that at times I felt too comfortable (and forgot that I was in Mexico). My host family (in particular, my host mom) was phenomenal-- I couldn't have asked for anyone better.

* Food:

The food was great, even though I had a dietary restriction that prevented me from eating a good amount of food.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Although I have no prior experience in Mexico, let alone Latin America, I felt like I didn't need to have a background in this culture. All that was needed was an open mind and a willingness to appreciate the rich culture of Oaxaca! The local culture welcomed all foreigners with open arms and I truly felt encouraged to be a part of the ongoing festivities of Guelaguetza. It was a magical experience!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I only had a minor health issue during my trip, but it was resolved within a day. But I am sure that the program would have assisted me completely with all of my needs if my condition had worsened!

* Safety:

Oaxaca is generally a safe place. However it is important to note that there are political demonstrations and poverty-stricken areas that might cause safety issues. Although I have not encountered any troubles with safety, I would always recommend traveling with a trusted individual at night or in areas not frequently visited during the program.

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

I have no regrets about my experience in Oaxaca! I feel like I gained more out of this 1 month experience than any other month in my entire life!


* 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)

I think Oaxaca is fairly affordable for students, but it really depends on how much you want to spend on food/drinks, gifts, and other activities. A student can easily live comfortably off of $50 if he knows how to budget properly.

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? Don't depend on taxis for transportation especially during the day


* 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

Almost always at school, during guided tours, and other instances. But with varying levels (and interests) of Spanish in my group, it was difficult speaking Spanish with others in my program session when it's a lot easier to communicate smoothly in English. But given the 1-month schedule, it is understandable that not everyone became comfortable speaking in Spanish.

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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Intermediate Writing
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? Try to speak in only Spanish with at least 1-2 people each day. Learn the dialect/slang in Oaxaca-- this makes it a lot easier to understand people when you are spoken to Attend cultural events (music, dance) that require you to understand and interpret spanish-- same goes with ordering at restaurants, going shopping in the market, etc.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* 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?
  • independence/freedom despite this being a 4 week program
  • Opportunities to learn language (school, intercambio) and culture (museum, Guelaguetza)
  • Fun-- there were so many activities that were very enjoyable!!
* What could be improved?
  • More activities early on to improve group cohesion-- it took a while for all of us to get along very well
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Get comfortable with the uncomfortable as soon as possible! I wish I became super comfortable with the people/culture/everything around me as soon as I arrived to maximize the experience. Also, try to avoid oversleeping -- you only have 28/29 days to enjoy Oaxaca!

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'