A Place Close to My Heart Past Review

By (Anthropology., Barnard College) - abroad from 06/10/2014 to 07/24/2014 with

SIT Study Abroad: Madagascar - Traditional Medicine and Healthcare Systems (Summer)

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
As an anthro major, I'm happy that I developed field work skills and produced research that I am proud of. Before I left, I was afraid to work too outside of my comfort zone, but going abroad made me realize my "comfort zone" is really much more flexible than I thought. Also, Madagascar developed as a serious area of academic interest for me. This study abroad experience helped me develop a thesis project, and I hope to return to the island to complete further research next summer. This extended research opportunity is incredibly exciting for me, and Madagascar has really become a place very close to me (despite the 7000 miles between us).

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 gave this section 4 stars because the individual research project was an intense and challenging undertaking, but I thought the lecture courses offered lacked both rigor and sufficient information. For example, the things we heard in a lecture (given by a Malagasy government official) on the history of the island were directly contradicted by various other anthropological and historical work I read that summer. Furthermore, some of the lectures were repetitive and simplistic. I was very happy with the language education and my overall experience, but you really get out what you put in. If you just paid attention in the lectures and didn't do much exploring for yourself, you wouldn't end up with a clear or accurate understanding of Madagascar.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

I couldn't maintain a vegetarian diet in Madagascar. The food was good, but eating meat did become necessary, especially to bond and become closer with my host family.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

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)

I ended up spending a lot less money that I'd budgeted. And most of that was spent on gifts and souvenirs for friends/family. You really don't need to spend a lot.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? < $50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? A lot of the meals were really large, especially when we ate at restaurants. Split a meal with a friend.


* 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

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 0
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Try to talk to your host family/Malagasy friends as much as possible in Malagasy, even if you feel awkward and stupid. It'll pay off!

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

  • Local Students
  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The friends I made
  • New language experience
  • Fieldwork experience
* What could be improved?
  • Helpfulness of on-site program staff
  • Rigor of lecture/homework material
  • Attention to non-Merina areas of Madagascar
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Not to eat boiled zebu!

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!