Ample gratitude for lovely people, experiences and resources. June 09, 2020

By (Skidmore College) - abroad from 01/20/2020 to 05/11/2020 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 flexibility of expectations. Embracing the beauty of the unknown and of experiences I never knew I needed to have.

Review Photos

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

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.

The School for International Training (SIT) has done an incredible job with its International Honors Programs (IHP). The intention behind planning, provision of professional and learning resources, and informed responses to emergency situations, like COVID-19 in my semester's case, have made me eternally grateful to have taken part in one of their programs.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Sherri-Lynn and Zufan were the most meticulous, motivated, and personally involved administrators for an academic program that I have ever met. They were incredible and I am so fortunate to have them as professional and educational resources moving forward. I have heard this from other IHP alum as well about their program administrators.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was placed with families that made me feel incredibly welcomed and comfortable in their homes. Prior to arriving in my homestays, I was also reassured countless times by program administrators and staff that the network of homestays that SIT and IHP in particular have across their hosting countries are extensive and personal. This could not be more true! Homestay coordinating staff are also extremely responsive and accommodating to any personal requests in every hosting location.

* Food:

I travelled to Washington D.C., Hanoi, Vietnam, and Cape Town, South Africa before having to come back to the US as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions. With the number of resources provided to me in each country, there is no way that I could run out of great local food options. Like many of my friends, I was also lucky enough to be placed in homestays with host-parents who were incredible cooks. A couple of my friends received food accommodations for special diets and food allergies, and this was never a problem for any of them with translated allergy/diet cards when presented to non-English speaking restaurants.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

During our multi-day orientation, SIT IHP informed us of tools to use in opening ourselves to the experiences we hoped to take from the program. Much of this was learning how to become aware of self in cultures unfamiliar to those we might know. Throughout international travel, classes were scheduled with ample time to explore the cities or rural towns that we visited. There are also multiple recurring workshops and culture classes that happen with program staff from both the United States and the country that hosts.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I travelled with SIT IHP during the COVID-19 global pandemic outbreak, and precautionary measures were taken to their fullest throughout the entire trip. Prior to leaving the US, we were provided with masks and hand sanitizer, along with a health safety informational session for travel. While in Vietnam, we were given culturally and locally appropriate information on remaining safe while within the country under the development of the pandemic, and the same happened in South Africa. We were updated constantly about how the pandemic was progressing, and were supported well psychosocially and emotionally as we approached our evacuation from South Africa. We were supposed to go to Buenos Aires, Argentina, but the government of Argentina closed the boarders before we could travel there. Our classes were entirely converted online and modified to fit the learning needs of every student, and we were still able to work with our country staff from Argentina while virtual.

* Safety:

No student on my program was faced with any unsafe situation. In each country, we were briefed with safety precautions to take while in local contexts. With use of these extensive tips, every student remained safe. I never felt unsafe while following these very reasonable precautions.

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

I'd love to see Argentina, and my experiences on this program would change with every changing group of people that I could do it with.

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 saved some money for personal shopping and in-country travel weekend expenses, but was well supported by program stipends throughout the duration of my travels.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Avg. $100USD per week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Whatever money you don't use in one country can be converted into the next country's currency. I'd also recommend spending on experiences rather than material items.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Other
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Other
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?
  • The people that surrounded me
  • The intention of thought from my teachers and administrators
  • SIT's philosophies of thought
* What could be improved?
  • Guidance for travel weekend
  • More language crashcourses
  • Resources for extended learning post-program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? This program is extremely emotionally and mentally taxing, and being involved with unfamiliarity is more demanding than one might prepare for.

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.'