Amazing and truly unique study abroad experience!! January 25, 2019

By (University of Virginia) - abroad from 08/28/2018 to 12/10/2018 with

SIT Study Abroad: Panama - Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This program is unlike any other traditional study abroad experience. I gained so much field experience, was able to learn about both the environmental and human aspects of conservation in so many different ways, and got to stay in so many different and interesting areas of Panama. This is nothing like a tourist vacation or a traditional university study abroad. Would absolutely recommend!!!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

This was an educational experience like no other I've ever had. You will learn so much in traditional classroom settings, as well as in the field, from your homestay families, your classmates, and beyond. The rigor was challenging at times, but nothing that we could not handle. The program pushed us to get as much out of the experience academically as we could.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The academic director and program assistants were amazing and handled all situations extremely well.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

As the program involves a considerable amount of traveling around and staying in different places, some living arrangements are more comfortable than others. However, this is all part of the experience, and I wouldn't change it if I could!

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Always felt generally safe, as long as you are using common sense! I didn't feel any less safe than I would in an American city.

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)

All expenses are included in the program. I didn't realize that they would even be giving us money to spend on meals that we didn't eat with the whole group. You really don't need to spend much of your own money at all during the whole program.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? less than $15

Language

* 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? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Intermediate Spanish
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? Speak to your homestay families and other people you meet!! This is the best time to practice.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
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/excursions
  • Independent Study Project
  • Field research/experience
* What could be improved?
  • Food in some places
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? You will get back what you put in in terms of language learning. You have to really try if you want to improve your Spanish!