An incredible program Past Review

By (Columbia University) - abroad from 08/21/2017 to 12/04/2017 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to think of colonialism and neo-colonialism in a new perspective, I learned a basic level of Quechua, and I made very deep friendships with Bolivians and my fellow classmates. It was very challenging but incredible.

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.

I was extremely engaged with the academics on this program. The focus across all of our classes was decolonization, and we had a number of guest lecturers lead our classes that were mostly local people and extremely intelligent in their field. I also learned a lot from the in-field rural experiences by getting the opportunity to develop relationships with people outside of the classroom setting. It is a lot of work on this program, especially in your final research project, but it is an integral part of the experience.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The on-site administration was incredible, we all got to be very close with the administration and they are loving, organized, and caring people.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My first host family was not a good fit but the program switched me to another family who were incredible and I got especially close with my host sisters. The program always pairs you with a family with siblings, which is really great because you are able to meet a lot of young people in Bolivia through this.

* Food:

The food in Bolivia is delicious and mostly local.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt very integrated into the local culture because I got to be close friends with my host sister's group of friends. I spent just as much time, or more time, with Bolivians than with other students on my program.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

My health was very well taken care of both by SIT and by hospitals in Bolivia. I did not have serious health issues, only a fever and sore throat once, but it was easy to get medication to help.

* Safety:

Cochabamba is very safe and I never felt in danger. Just take simple precautions like you would in any city, like calling for a taxi instead of getting into a random taxi, and buying your own drinks for example instead of accepting them from others.

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

This program challenged my perspective in a way that I have brought back to the United States, about the way colonization continues into today and also I learned so much about the richness of Andean culture. I would definitely do it again.


* 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)

I found it very easy to live on a student budget in Cochabamba. I even had time to travel at the end of the program with money from the stipend I didn't spend during the semester.


* 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

I had the opportunity to take Quechua because I passed out of the Spanish requirement and this was a very special experience. We did a lot of trips to rural areas where I was able to practice speaking and also I heard and spoke Quechua in Cochabamba often.

What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I had already completed the full language requirement at Columbia, and I found this helpful because there are a lot of Bolivians, including my host family, that don't speak any English.

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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Host family
  • Staff and directors
  • Academics
* What could be improved?
  • More built-in time for the race-related meetings
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? It is very hard and unlike a lot of other study abroad programs in this way. The program is very self-concious of itself as a program of Americans in Bolivia, but this is what makes the program so challenging. You are constantly challenging your positionally and learning from these experiences.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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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!