Stressful, Confusing, and Worth It! Past Review

By (International Politics and Economics, Middlebury College) - abroad from 09/06/2013 to 12/18/2013 with

SIT Study Abroad: IHP - Climate Change: The Politics of Food, Water and Energy

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
A huge amount of information on climate change and issues of environmental justice, agriculture, and inequality. I had my doubts during the program, but it was absolutely worth it by the end.

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.

Classes weren't particularly difficult, but I learned lots from site visits and guest lecturers!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Some countries had a sometimes haphazard organization, and be prepared to be busy day in and day out! Overall great though.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Homestay situations in Morocco were extremely difficult, due to language barriers and the way homestays are set up in that country. Some families were great, others were not; don't expect a terribly intimate host family experience. Host families in Vietnam and Bolivia seemed to be universally wonderful.

* Food:

Get used to lots and lots of bread in Morocco and strange meat in Vietnam. It's mostly always delicious, though.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

As it's a traveling program, there are naturally less opportunities to become integrated with the community in each country. However, Vietnam and Bolivia both offered several opportunities to get to know other students or friends of host families, and have a certain sense of belonging. In Morocco, don't expect any sort of community integration; host families aren't interested enough in you to try and introduce you, and most people will not speak English anyway. If you speak good French and/or Arabic, or have a particularly good host family, you may have more opportunities, however.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Get used to food poisoning. It WILL happen, and you'll learn to deal with it. Some had issues paying for health care, as reimbursement will only happen after the finish of the program.

* Safety:

Street harassment in Morocco is a real issue of you're a girl. Expect it, and get used to it, because there's no way to avoid it. Some parts of Bolivia can be dangerous, but my group never had issues. Beware of bus rides in every country.

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

Finances

* 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'm very frugal, so spending was generally not an issue. However, SIT and Middlebury College managed to screw me out of all of the extra money I had saved, which led to many difficult situations, especially towards the end.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $60
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't be afraid not to travel during breaks! And try lots of street food; you'll get food poisoning anyway, so you might as well get it from stuff you like.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • 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?
  • Travel
  • Great field trips
  • Huge variety
* What could be improved?
  • More balanced instruction
  • Transparency about cost
  • Almost everything relating to Morocco
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Expect the unexpected! Be frugal, be careful, and don't trust taxi drivers.

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:

Climate Change: Science and Policy

Course Department: Environmental Science
Instructor: Virginie LeMasson
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The website continues to delete everything I write in course reviews, so this will be shorter than what I had originally written. Well-organized class and informative, but I would have liked further background on the hard science of climate change.
Credit Transfer Issues: This review is necessary in order to actually receive my transcript, so we shall have to wait and see...
Course Name/Rating:

Contemporary Issues in Food, Water, and Energy

Course Department: Not Sure
Instructor: Patrick Bresnihan
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Not terribly organized or informative, but helped me with soft skills such as critical thinking.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

International Political Economy: 1850 to Present

Course Department: Economics/Political Science
Instructor: Eddie Yuen
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Lots of information, but the heavy marxist bent meant that I didn't feel I could trust everything I learned. More balance would have been appreciated, though it was nice to have a unique perspective.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Field Methods and Ethics

Course Department: Anthropology
Instructor: Various
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Very little instruction about actual methods and ethics, which would have been greatly appreciated; mostly consisted of a large final research paper.
Credit Transfer Issues: