A unique and life-changing experience abroad August 09, 2022

By (Environmental Studies, University of Colorado - Boulder) - abroad from 01/24/2022 to 05/08/2022 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 gained a reaffirmation that traveling and sharing unique experiences with amazing people will always be something I pursue. I gained patience during chaotic times and when not everything was working out perfectly. I gained a ton a amazing friends that I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life.

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 educational curriculum in this abroad program can be quite intense, however the material is very fascinating and you are so closely working with your peers and professors.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration was well organized and thorough with their safety protocols once we arrived in Panama City.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The living arrangements completely exceeded my expectations. There were moments where we would be in very remote areas and there was no air conditioning, but everywhere in the city had A/C and was in a nice and safe area.

* Food:

The food became repetitive at time throughout our excursion periods, however, the food is good and they accommodate to people's food allergies and preferences. When you are not on excursions, you have a stipend to spend on food wherever you want in the city.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Very integrated. We met with many Panamanians who had recommendations throughout the city. However, you must pursue these activities during your free time.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The advisors and professors were always concerned and aware of our health throughout the program. Any kinds of health risks were addressed and handled with great care, while maintaining communication between health professionals and the patients. In other parts of Panama there is risk of Malaria and Yellow Fever, but we did not travel to any of the parts that had this risk.

* Safety:

There are definitely parts of Panama City that you want to avoid. However, with guidance from the locals and the advisors that know Panama well, you can avoid bad neighborhoods and stay completely safe while you enjoy the city.

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

I never thought I would even go to Panama in my life, much less spend 3.5 months there. It completely opened my eyes to the amazing places there are to see in central and South America.


* 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)

Most items are cheaper in Panama so $100 will go a long way when it comes to groceries and going out on the weekends.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50-$100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Buy groceries and cook at your apartment. There are a lot of unique foods that are fun to cook with.


* 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 continuous encouragement to speak Spanish with people we would meet on or excursions. In addition there were several Panamanian students on the trip that encouraged us to learn more Spanish. However, the classes were mainly in English.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I took 4 years of Spanish in high school.
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? Go have conversation with the Panamanians and the professors. They would be happy to help you learn more Spanish.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • 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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • the people
  • the places
  • the food
* What could be improved?
  • communication with students
  • transport organization
  • more incorporation of Spanish
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Prepare to be put in some uncomfortable positions. There is a lot of meeting people and to fully enjoy the process, you really have to step outside your comfort zone and be a little extroverted. However, there were plenty of introverts that ended up doing just fine.

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 Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.