A social, academic, and personal exploration May 31, 2020

By (University of Richmond) - abroad from 01/19/2020 to 05/09/2020 with

SIT Study Abroad: IHP - Health and Community: Globalization, Culture and Care (Spring 2)

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned to accept that there is no one truth or answer. Across different cultural contexts, similar issues may emerge, and while it is our responsibility to challenge these issues, we need to acknowledge people will have different perspectives. You will become more inquisitive, and learn to ask better questions over the course of the program.

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.

IHP is an educational experience like no other. I studied abroad on a direct exchange program with another university in the fall, and my experience with IHP was far more rewarding in many ways. By facilitating meaningful and relevant discussions among a tight-knit cohort of students, the program intellectually challenges everyone. Through lectures, site visits, and interviews I found myself questioning my own assumptions, and growing academically, personally, and socially. Course content is reasonably challenging. While not being overly easy, it appreciates the considerable time requirements of the program overall.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Your in-country teams are comprised of the best people you will ever meet. Between the host families, country coordinators, assistants, etc. each person works to help you appreciate the country context you are in.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Homestays are a great way to understand the cultural context you are living within. However, with that comes your lack of control over who you will be living with, and you also must expect variation in the comfort of living arrangements available. The host families are what make the experience so unique and rewarding.

* Food:

Be smart about food, and be open to trying new things. Listen to the country teams regarding food safety. In each of the countries we visited, I felt comfortable trying many new foods, and I now have a hard time eating our American version of dishes I tried while abroad.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Unlike my past study abroad program, IHP really allowed me to immerse myself in the culture of each place. Through homestays and interviews, you connect with people and their experiences on a deep level.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

You are briefed on the health system at the start of each country cycle. I did require medical attention at one point and a staff member was more than happy to accompany me to the hospital and help me navigate the insurance process. I never felt unsafe in this regard.

* Safety:

Listen to your country teams. In Vietnam, violent crime was not a worry but we were rather unaware of the traffic-related safety considerations. In South Africa, certain areas required us to follow strict measures to ensure our safety. While I was more aware of my surroundings at time, I felt more confident given the information the country teams gave us.

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

IHP was an amazing experience for me in so many ways. Every day, I woke up excited to go to class and see my fellow students. I learned skills such as interviewing, and became aware of my own biases. Although the program demands a lot, it is deeply rewarding.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Covered by stipend
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Budget your stipend and don't overpack

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* 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?
  • Site visits
  • Comparative
  • Country teams
* What could be improved?
  • Lectures
  • Homestay selections
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? This program is more demanding of your time than other experiences. However, you will learn to love this time because you are spending it with fellow students.

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.'