Amazing, knock-you-on-your-butt, expand your mind, Bolivia! Past Review

By (Sociology, Trinity University) - abroad from 02/03/2015 to 05/19/2015 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learend a lot about my own privileges. I also learned a lot about interactions between foreigners and locals. It was SO WORTHWHILE, it's hard to begin describing.

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.

This program was academically engaging and rigorous. The academics were very tied into the excursions and lectures given by community members.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Heidi Baer-Postigo made sure that we were comfortable and safe throughout the program. Patricia Parra was impressive in the way she kept everything running and was always there to cover any hiccups with a backup plan.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Very kind host family. I had a luxurious room to myself and was welcomed into the family.

* Food:

I was a vegetarian prior to this trip, so it was hard transitioning to a diet of mostly meat and starch (potatoes, rice, corn, bread, etc). I talked with my host family about it, and my host mom did her best to incorporate more vegetables and fish into our meals! Food on the excursions was always fun.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My daily interaction with the city made me feel connected to the local culture. My feelings of non-integration with the culture came from my position as a foreigner as well as the position of privilege I operate from as a wealthier, white foreigner. The program provided us with opportunities to meet, interact with, and participate in cultural activities with locals. In general I felt like I was much more able to participate in local culture than if I had just traveled to the country on my own.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't personally have any health issues but anyone in the program who did have issues was immediately given healthcare.

* Safety:

It's important to be careful in Cochabamba. As a woman, it's best to always be with other people if you are out at night - going out alone is unwise. Calling a radio taxi is much safer than flagging down a random one in the street. Always be aware of pick-pockets. If men approach you claiming they are police and that you need to come with them, do not go (they are most likely not police). Don't really trust the police. Your lifelines are your program directors and connections through the program.

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 VERY affordable.


* 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 courses were supposed to be completely immersive. This was mostly true except for a few discussions in which we slipped into english - some students were at different levels and so for the sake of expression were allowed to slip into english. The first few weeks were very intense as far as adjusting to a full-Spanish environment, but very worth it!

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? Advanced Composition and Conversation
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? Find a group of people you can meet up with and spend an hour or so sitting around and talking in that language. Focused meetups are effective. Conversation is best!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
  • Host Family
  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
  • Other
* 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?
  • Intensity
  • Exposure to different realities
  • Discussion analysis
* What could be improved?
  • There could be more downtime to spend with host families/locals
  • More intensive Spanish courses
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew how jam-packed it would be. It's academically, socially, linguistically, and emotionally intense! Very very worth it too :)

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.'