The Experience of a Lifetime Past Review

By (Middlebury College) - abroad from 02/03/2017 to 04/28/2017 with

Round River Conservation Studies - Botswana Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a variety of field biology skills, I learned how to grind and laugh through tough situations, I learned all about the wildlife of the Okavango, and I gained a whole bunch of close relationships.

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.

Round River was the experience of a lifetime. I am so glad that I chose this program, and will be forever shaped by the lessons I learned. Living, sleeping, working, and playing in the bush for a semester was a true gift--it helped me connect both with myself, the natural world, and the people around me at a level that is normally really hard to accomplish in our technology-oriented daily lives. Over the three months that we spent in Botswana, our group became a great big family--I love and cherish the connections I made over my time abroad, and I hope to go back soon. Thanks, Round River!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I loved my instructors. They were attentive, friendly, fun to be around, and had great senses of humor. I always felt supported and knew that if something went wrong, they would have my back.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in a tent with a great tent partner. Make sure you bring a good sleeping pad, and you'll sleep like a log after the first couple of nights.

* Food:

It's camping food, so it wasn't gourmet but it was delicious nonetheless. There's nothing like good warm food at the end of a tough day.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Regularly spent time in villages and with villagers. We also had locals spending time in our camps. One of our three instructors was also a local. Would have enjoyed even more time in the villages, though! Couldn't get enough of the culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Health problems were prioritized and quickly dealt with, no exceptions.

* Safety:

I felt safe at all times--everyone looks out for you and everyone we encountered was friendly.

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

I was excited for this program when I started, but loved it even more when it was time to go. Round River taught me life lessons, real-life skills (including marketable field biology skills), and provided me with a whole lot of fun along the way. The whole trip was an amazing adventure.


* 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)

Being out in the bush prevents you from spending that much money. I think I spent $500 total after airfare.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Usually none, because we were in remote campsites.


* 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

At times it was difficult to use the language, but we were absolutely encouraged to speak in Setswana whenever possible.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I had never taken a Setswana class.
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? Just put yourself out there when you're in Botswana. People will love it. If you're trying to learn Setswana before you leave, know that you really don't need to. BUT if you want to, you can start by just looking up basic words!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Other
* 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?
  • The close relationships I developed
  • The sense of adventure
  • Hearing lions roaring at night
* What could be improved?
  • Not a lot, very strong program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Bring books and playing cards! There can be a lot of down time from time to time, and these two items become more valuable than gold! Also, a great camera is a huge asset.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Natural History of Botswana

Course Department: N/A
Instructor: All
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class was extremely valuable and fun. Our leaders were quite knowledgable and I learned all about the landscape we were in. The small class size helped me participate frequently.
Credit Transfer Issues: No problems