A Wild and Wonderful Semester! February 21, 2022

By (Ecology and Anthropology, Tulane University) - abroad from 09/04/2021 to 12/17/2021 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much about ecology and conservation in many different tropical ecosystems. I gained experience designing and implementing my own research project. This program was 100% worthwhile, and an amazing experience for people interested in conservation, tropical ecology, or who just love the outdoors.

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

I was provided good quality, filling food. That being said, as a vegetarian there was not a ton of variation or options in the meals.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

While we got to meet with local scientists, NGOS, and conservationists, we were often relatively isolated with our cohort from local communities.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The program administration did their best to deal with all medical issues, but the medical system in Panama was not the most efficient or effective. There were some issues with stomach bugs, parasites, and other digestive related issues among the students, likely because we were not accustomed to local foods.

* Safety:

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

I had an incredible experience with this program, and wish I could relive this semester over again. I learned so much about tropical ecology and conservation, made an amazing network of scientists, professors, and friends, and saw so much of the beautiful country of Panama. Not a day has gone by since this program ended that I haven't wanted to go back.


* 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)

In general, I lived very well on the student budget. I think the money could have been better distributed though, with less being provided for food at the start (we had extra) and more being provided for the ISP period (many of us were a bit short).

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 0
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Keep track of what you are spending on meals, and stick to your ISP budget!


* 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

We were somewhat encouraged to use Spanish, but we were also often isolated from local communities so did not have the most opportunities to practice.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
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? Upper level college course
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? Listen to music, practice talking to the program administrators and professors in Spanish, watch TV shows

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Other
  • Hotel
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* 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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Travelling around the country
  • Independent research project
  • Field work and being outside all day
* What could be improved?
  • More free time to explore local areas
  • Clearer pre-requisites for biology and stats
  • More applied language practice
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? This program is very intense, and there is not a lot of downtime or free time. I wish I had known this so I could have been prepared for how fast paced it was, and had better time management.

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!