Rwanda Past Review

By (Barnard College) - abroad from 02/06/2012 to 05/20/2012 with

SIT Study Abroad: Rwanda - Post-Genocide Restoration and Peacebuilding

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a multi-faceted view Rwandan history that I previously hadn't had, which will broaden my understanding of other conflicts and cultures in the world. Personally, I left Rwanda with close friends and a family that I didn't have before, and a greater level of confidence in my ability to adapt to new situations and cultures.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

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:

* 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)

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? It's hard to guess because I mixed my stipend money with my personal funds.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? We received a stipend for food and transportation to and from school, but it only covers bus fare and cheap, generic meals. If you need to go somewhere not accessible by bus or if you get tired of rice and beans everyday (you will), you'll want to expect to spend your own money. During the research period we lived near the market, and if you pool your money and cook together it's fairly easy to do for a reasonable cost.


* 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 taught to parrot words and phrases more than anything else. Unless you put in a lot of extra effort on your own time you won't leave fluent in Kinyarwanda. That being said, I was able to bargain effectively when I needed to.

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? N/A
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? Take the lessons for what they are - pushing for a different lesson plan or teaching approach ultimately back fired and made everyone more frustrated and less invested in the class. I could have learned more if I hadn't been so busy complaining that we weren't learning any grammar.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
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 group dynamic among the students was incredibly open and supportive
  • The material and experiential learning model were incredibly stimulating, even if I didn't always realize it in the moment
  • The excursion to Uganda provided a wonderful comparative case study and sparked an interest that I didn't previously have
* What could be improved?
  • The emotional support from SIT staff in Rwanda was often subpar
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Fish is not considered meat, and one can expect to encounter many pit latrines.