Semester Abroad in Patagonia Past Review

By (Environmental Science, Franklin & Marshall College) - abroad from 01/09/2017 to 04/04/2017 with

Round River Conservation Studies - Patagonia, Chile Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot of field skills, but I also learned how to live and work with a small group of people for long periods of time. I gained a lot of confidence in myself. Studying abroad challenges you, but Round River supports you.

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.

Academics are not as rigorous as a university setting because you are working in the field. However, this means that while you might not spend hours typing out papers, you will spend your days learning field methods, and you will be intellectually challenged in ways that you might not have experienced before. For example, for your midterm, you may have to write a report on a restoration design for a specific situation in a limited amount of time. That design will have to thoughtfully incorporate real-life conservation issues, such as human-wildlife conflict.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Instructors are always accessible. The staff back in the states provided really excellent "satellite" help when I had trouble booking my flight back home. Plenty of support through the program, and added support from Round River itself.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Housing was personal tents, as expected. Not every campsite can be the best— but that's field work.

* Food:

When backpacking, fresh veggies/fruit can be scarce— and even then, we typically had at least one piece of fruit a day. I wouldn't have wanted to carry more. That said, at basecamp and in all other situations, the instructors really do try to make sure you're getting plenty of fruits and vegetables. Students plan and prepare the meals, so it's up to them to select healthy foods that everyone will be happy with. In my 3 months, I was never unhappy with any of the meals.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

This is perhaps my only issue with this program. The social and cultural integration is really tough for students who don't speak Spanish. I still enjoyed my homestay experience very much, and I was able to talk with some of our conservation partners. This isn't an issue with the program itself, apart from the fact that there is no language component. This program will give you excellent opportunities to practice your Spanish, you just need to know some when you arrive!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any health problems during my semester. However, there was a pharmacy in town and a hospital nearby. I felt that I would have had access to adequate care if I needed it. In the backcountry, all of the students have insurance, even if it means they need to be helicoptered out. No one on my program was ever injured, but it was good to know that Round River had sound safety measures and protocol in place to address health emergencies.

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe. I never had a bad experience with anyone during my semester abroad in Patagonia. Within the program, I felt that there were adequate safety measures in place.

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

Doing a program like Round River can be challenging for a lot of reasons, but if I could go back and do it again, I would in a heartbeat. The challenging times lead to strong bonds between you and your teammates and instructors. You learn from them. More importantly, you will have the absolute time of your life. You will see beautiful things every day, learn tons of new skills and learn more than you could imagine about the ecology and history of Patagonia. Patagonia is a beautiful corner of the world, and Round River is one of the major conservation efforts there. They are doing work that no one else is doing. You have the chance to contribute to really meaningful conservation with this program.


* 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)

While on the program, all food, housing, and transportation is covered. I used personal money on extra personal snacks (like chocolate), wine while at basecamp, souvenirs, and going out to dinner a few times. There is a 24-hr ATM in town and 24-hour free wifi in town as well.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $20 average
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Buy your airfare as early on as possible.


* 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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 201 (a third-semester level course)
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Come prepared with some spanish-speaking skills. Most people in Patagonia, especially people in rural areas, do not speak english. You will want to talk to them! Come with your skills, the program does not spend any time on teaching language. Any language skills you gain during the program will have to come from your own practice in your free time.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
  • Host Family
  • Hostel
* 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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Field-based
  • Small group
  • Applied learning
* What could be improved?
  • Language component
  • Academic rigor
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew to study spanish more before I went. In the end though, all of the things you are made to learn while abroad end up being a huge part of the experience. I wouldn't change anything.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.