Not All Who (R)wander Are Lost Past Review

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 01/25/2016 to 05/08/2016 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Rwanda taught me to reconsider what is possible in terms of the human capacity for forgiveness. It was so inspiring to live among genocide survivors and perpetrators and see how they have been able to rebuild a cohesive society. That being said, I also was able to experience so many new things and grow in ways I didn't know I would. Highly, highly recommend!

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.

Most of the visiting lecturers and field trips/educational excursions we had were extremely relevant and interesting, and helped me to deepen my knowledge of the social, cultural, and political climate of Rwanda. The workload was very manageable and SIT supplies you with all of the resources you could need. The only downside was that sometimes speakers would cancel last minute and we would have maybe an hour of idle time while the SIT staff tried to find another activity for us. This was not the fault of SIT and the staff did a great job of finding replacement speakers or activities.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Celine, Mercy, Sunday and the rest of the SIT staff are great! Very accessible and very knowledgeable. Whether you need directions, travel arrangements, or medical treatment, the staff are super supportive.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was placed with a wonderful host family who helped to make my experience in Rwanda even more enjoyable! I had my own room in a house in a busy part of Kigali and we rarely had power outages and had running water most of the time. I loved getting to know my two younger host siblings and being able to come back to a home everyday after school really helped me to feel more settled in Rwanda.

* Food:

Overall, I enjoyed Rwandan food. Bananas and potatoes along with other starches are very popular and are present in some form at almost every meal. I found that my stomach was more sensitive so I tended to stay away from meat and fish, but most of the other students on my program ate these regularly and were fine. In addition to traditional cuisine, Kigali has a number of restaurants that serve a variety of food, so if you're craving something different, there are plenty of options. The food is also considerably cheaper here than in the US!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Beyond being placed with a host family, I felt that SIT did not do much to help us integrate with the local culture. They definitely provided us with the language skills and basic knowledge to venture out on our own, but I found that I felt most integrated when I made an effort to attend a local church or get an internship at a local aid organization. Those were a couple of the opportunities I had to meet and engage with local people, but those occurred outside of SIT.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I only had minor stomach issues which were very easily remedied by getting medicine from the pharmacy. However, students who had more serious health issues said that the care they received at the hospitals wasn't great.

* Safety:

Rwanda is probably the safest country in Africa, if not, one of the safest in the world. There are armed military personnel on every street, and you can travel around Kigali day or night without any issue. I didn't experience any pick-pocketing and I felt safe wherever I went. That being said, it's always a good idea to use caution when travelling around any city, or those parts of the city that are especially busy.

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)


* 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? 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? None
How many hours per day did you use the language?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • 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?
  • The independent research period
  • The people
  • The excursions
* What could be improved?
  • Schedule
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I wouldn't have followed the packing list so strictly. There were definitely things on there that I didn't need, or others clothes I wish I would have brought but didn't because the packing list made it sound like it would be inappropriate to do so. I believe they are in the process of revising the list, but bring clothes that are modest, but that you will also be comfortable in, especially when it gets warm and muggy!

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'