Can't imagine a more eye-opening and fulfilling experience Past Review

By (Environmental Science., University of Denver) - abroad from 08/26/2014 to 12/09/2014 with

SIT Study Abroad: Bolivia - Multiculturalism, Globalization, and Social Change

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Before this program, I considered myself a well-traveled and fairly conscientious person. By participating in this program, my eyes were opened again and again, sometimes not so gently, to the complexities and subtleties of social dynamics, cultural norms, and the ways of the world we live in. It is the structure and location of the program that allowed us these fantastic life lessons.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

When speaking strictly of academics, they can be about at relaxed or as rigorous as you choose. The difference is that here, you have a chance to really make a difference with your academics. It's about giving back to the community, and for that, this program goes beyond academics. You are expected to put in your full effort on your own accord, and while for some that may mean the opportunity to slack off, for others it means the opportunity to explore topics and carry out projects in the most creative and impactful way possible.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The onsite administration goes above and beyond their average duties. They are there for you when you need them and will help you however they can with anything you need. Although there's no way to prepare students for everything they might experience, the administration does a great job preparing students for possible experiences in a very open manner

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was lucky to have a great and loving host family who were happy to cook for a vegetarian like myself. It was however different from what I was expecting. You are typically put with upper-middle class families (which is great for safety/amenities/etc.), and I think the general image of a cultural immersion program inspires an expectation of more traditional and/or rural families. Not bad at all, just different from my initial expectations.

* Food:

I was lucky to have a great and loving host family who were happy to cook for a vegetarian like myself. There, I never had a problem getting enough nutrition. It was a lot more fried food than I was used to, but all in all very good.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We were always surrounded by local culture, however, outside of my host family and my friends host families, I didn't meet many bolivians my age.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

While in the main city of the program, cochabamba, healthcare was more easily accessible. I never needed it, but heard from other students that while the administration was very helpful with healthcare and did everything they could, the actual hospitals were not very good or accommodating to patients and some students were ill for much of the program

* Safety:

The host city itself was fairly safe. The worst was that you could get pickpocketed in the market or if you're a woman maybe whistled at. There were a couple small incidents that made students feel uncomfortable, and while the program informed us well of the risks, you can never fully prepare someone to predict what could happen in a given situation in a new and unfamiliar country

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


* 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)

Bolivia is a very affordable country relative to the United States. I ate almost every meal at home so my main cost was riding the bus to and from class every day which cost me about $1 or 2 a day. The program also gives a stipend to use for academic trips and the month long independent study. My biggest cost was definitely souvenirs...

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? going to cafes and taking the bus, maybe going out to eat once or twice. Not including souvenirs and electronics I bought for video class I probably lived off of $10-20 a week and sometimes less.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Eat at home, your family is paid to feed you. That's probably going to save the most money.


* 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

Our host families never spoke english. Our classes were also in spanish most of the time

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? 3000 level university Spanish
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 spanish with your american friends. Challenge each other even though its difficult, to express yourself in another language

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • 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?
  • it challenged me as a human being
  • allowed me to choose my own independent project
  • forced me to adapt to new environments
* What could be improved?
  • more safety preparation
  • a little more preparation on cultural expectations
  • a little more emotional preparation for certain excursions
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had studied more about the many different indigenous cultures. It's always good to be well-read before going to a new place, especially a place where there are many sensitive cultural issues

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.'