A life-changing, unique program January 26, 2019

By (Tulane University) - 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 helped me figure out my academic and career interests. It was such a valuable learning experience, both academically and personally. The Independent Study Project process was extremely valuable as well.

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.

The classes were set up in module format; therefore, they were never monotonous. All classes were field-based and prioritized hands-on and experiential learning. Some professors were better than others, and the Spanish class tended to be boring, which are the only two reasons I did not leave five stars. This was the most I ever learned and retained in a semester of college.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Aly, Yari, and Rhay, the in-country staff, care so much about the students and made my experience low-stress and enjoyable.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Housing arrangements varied greatly; we stayed in homestays, hotels, and hostels (in total, I slept in 22 beds all semester!). All housing arrangements were at least comfortable, and they all providing a different, interesting experience.

* Food:

All food costs are covered, which is wonderful. Some food was better than others, but there was always something I could eat at every meal.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The program involves a lot of traveling with other students in the program, so you are never in one place for too long. It was difficult to become to immersed in that way; however, living in homestays and seeing so many different parts of the country allowed me to feel like I was getting a good view of the culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

The program really focuses on making sure you are safe; I never felt unsafe after following basic safety protocols.

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)

The program covers all costs of living, and any additional expenses are cheaper than in the United States. I spent most of my personal money on Airbnbs and extra food and snacks.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 10-20

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

There was a Spanish class that I did not personally find very helpful. However, program staff encouraged us to speak Spanish during daily interactions. Homestays were also very beneficial in language learning. Students typically spoke English with one another. However, I would recommend brushing up on at least basic Spanish before going on the program.

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? Spanish 3280 (literature and film)
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? I recommend just ignoring fear of messing up and speaking whenever you can.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • International Students
  • 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?
  • Constant traveling
  • Homestays
  • Variety of subject matter in classes
* What could be improved?
  • Spanish class quality
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known how travel-heavy the program was and that there would be a lot of living out of a bag.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.