IHP: Ultimately Rewarding, But Constantly Challenging Past Review

By (International Relations, Environmental Studies, Tufts University) for

SIT Study Abroad: IHP - Cities in the 21st Century: People, Planning and Politics (Fall 1)

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I look at cities in an entirely different way now--as living, breathing entities waiting to be discovered and unraveled. I came away from this program challenging my own beliefs and holding the statements of others to a higher standard. I found a community of smart, interesting, and intense people, some of whom I now consider true friends. And I feel deeply connected to three world cities and the people that I met there.

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.

The "classes" and the readings are interesting and usually stimulating, but not the reason you would pick this program. The real learning comes from "experiential learning"--site visits, lectures, discussions in coffee shops and things you see while walking to school. IHP encourages you to look at the world such a way that you are learning from it all the time, even (or especially) if you're just riding the bus.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

There is a different program coordinator for each country, so it really depends. India's coordinator was BRILLIANT, but Senegal's coordination was a mess as it was the first time they had run the program there.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Most people had great host families, I loved all of my families. You don't get much choice over who you are placed with though--I really wanted host siblings, but always lived with single women or in one case a couple. All families treated me as one of their own. You are always placed with another student.

* Food:

Senegal is difficult for vegetarians. Most people got sick at least once, but what's Delhi without a little Delhi belly? Overall, I loved the food, especially in India. But again, as you're eating with your host family, it can vary a lot.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

A lot of it was up to us to organize, but there were some special outings, such as a trip to the Taj Mahal, a wrestling match in Dakar, and tango lessons/a tango show in BA. I expected the program to organize more "fun stuff" than it did, though.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Many people had to go to the doctor, and there was always an english-speaking doctor on hand. Professors were not that sympathetic to health issues though, even when they had to miss class themselves due to illness. We were as safe as we could be in these cities--except during the Dakar program, which had some serious lapses in safety (program outing during a city riot, little support while in a rural village with no English speakers.)

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)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you're a picky eater or have dietary restrictions, make sure to budget extra money for food. Every country we visited was cheaper than the US, with India being the cheapest and Argentina the most expensive.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Spanish 35 (8 semesters)
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

All classes are taught in English, and host families are supposed to speak English, but as I know French and Spanish, I was placed with a French-only family in Senegal and a Spanish-only family in Argentina. Additionally, there are very basic "words of the day" or "survival language" skills taught in each country.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you are looking for a fun semester of traveling, this is not the program for you. If you are looking for a challenging experience that requires you to think and learn in a completely different way, I would absolutely consider this program.