Don't Even Look at Spain or Costa Rica..... Past Review

By (University of Iowa) - abroad from 08/23/2016 to 12/04/2016 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I can have casual conversations in Spanish with ease and I feel so much more confident in myself. Trust me, this program will throw challenges at you (especially when you go off for a month to do your independent research project), but it'll be so worth it.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Classes were dynamic, and often times we had the choice to do creative projects in lieu of essays, such as a short documentary. A lot of readings, but they are all very important.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Heidi, Naomi, and Paty will become your lifelines... they are wonderful!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with a single mother and five siblings (11-27 years old) in Sarco. They were the BEST. My older sister always took me to clubs and bars and my younger sister loved to hold my hand and go for walks around the neighborhood. They were perfect.

* Food:

Food was definitely delicious, especially the 19+ new fruits I had never tried before in my life. The only issue is that at dinner many Bolivian families only eat bread and fruit. I lost 10 lbs during my stay because of that.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

While I did everything I could to make Bolivian friends and largely succeeded, a lot of people on the program left the country without a single friend outside of their host family. Stop going out with Americans so much is the best way to avoid this! Cut loose and shed your shyness.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

So long story short I woke up one morning with 5 cankersores and extremely swollen lymph nodes and webMD told me it was possibly HIV but it just turned out to be hand, foot, & mouth disease. That was the only time I got sick, and I just had to get an antibiotic and some ibuprofen for the pain and I was all better. I never got diarrhea even after eating food on the street and buying coconut juice weekly in the market.

* Safety:

I only felt unsafe when I accidentally took my trufi to the notoriously dangerous Zona Sur at nighttime but my kindhearted driver took my back to the Zona Norte. My host sister's cell phone was robbed while I was there (but she chased down the guy and he got scared and gave it back lol) and I also lost my iPhone at a party and never saw it again (presumably stolen). Do NOT call taxis off the street. This is perhaps the most dangerous thing you can do. All safety info will be thoroughly discussed at orientation.

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

Bolivia is truly unlike any other study abroad experience. It might not have the shiny infrastructure of Spain or even the rest of Latin America but it had me in love on day 1.


* 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 for sure the cheapest country in South America and one of the cheapest in Latin America. Going out to dinner was rarely more than $6. Artisanal wine was $3.50. Flights to all major Bolivian cities were $35.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? It shouldn't be a big problem.


* 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

Although classes were supposed to be in Spanish, we often ended up discussing things in English. I swore of English for about a month but was the only student to do so, so I found myself turning to Bolivian friends for social interaction. I was in between advanced and fluent by the end of the program.

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? 4 years of high school and 1 year college 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? Make Bolivian friends and go out with them all the time. Talk to your host mama often and keep word lists!! So helpful.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • 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? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Independent Research
  • Cultural Excursions
  • Host City
* What could be improved?
  • Spanish Language use in class
  • Less debriefings with the program members
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? In Bolivia, simpático means "cute" NOT "happy." Don't mess this up and call a 45 year old man you just met "simpático."

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Quechua I

Course Department:
Instructor: Evelyn Quispe
Instruction Language: Spanish, Quechua
Comments: This course was amazing. It might seem difficult to get into, but actually about a quarter of the program tested well enough on Spanish tests that they were able to opt out of Spanish for Social Sciences to take this class. Homework was basically to go to the market and record an interview with one of the venders in Quechua. It was so worthwhile even if I didn't get beyond very elementary Quechua.
Credit Transfer Issues: