SIT Screwed Me Over :) February 10, 2021

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 09/07/2020 to 12/22/2020 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Honestly I loved the friends I made both within my program and the locals. Was worthwhile professionally as I still love my internship, however that was done on my own accord. Additionally, I got to leave the U.S. which was a first and so transformative.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Academically I believe this program left a lot to be desired. I felt like the program was so accelerated due to combining both the Rwanda and Uganda programs, that we were only able to scratch the surface of these complex topics. Furthermore, the academics echoed my feelings towards the rest of the program: disorganized. I would go weeks without work, and then be overwhelmed by waves of assignments that didn’t further my learning, and was unable to get ahead on work earlier as we didn’t have assignment descriptions/due dates. Ultimately I appreciated what SIT was trying to accomplish as far as experiential learning and field visits, however in Uganda, the majority of our time was spent in a classroom or bus, negating the impact of these site visits.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I was thoroughly disappointed by the administration of SIT, especially as it pertained to my health. In Uganda, I was gas lit by SIT admin with relation to COVID safety. A student within our group refused to wear a mask properly, and aside from SIT staff not wearing proper PPE as well, I was invalidated when I voiced my discomfort and fear. When the student and staff’s PPE usage was brought up at a meeting, our academic director said “this is the first time I’m hearing about it”, which invalidated the multitude of times we (both as a group and individually) had tried to resolve these issues. The comfort of one individual took precedence over the safety of an entire cohort, and when concerns were raised, I was made to feel dramatic, cruel and reactionary. Furthermore, administration was rarely on time and made the program feel chaotic and rushed.

* 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?

If I could put less than half a star I would. In addition to COVID safety issues, I had my own health scare when I contracted Malaria. This resulted in two separate hospitalizations and many consultations. Unfortunately, the health insurance we were assured was "the best" was useless. During my second admission to the hospital, I wasn't sent my guarantee of payment until an hour before my discharge, 3 days after I initially called. Therefore that hospital visit, as well as all my tests and consultations, was payed completely out of pocket. What's especially upsetting, is I filed a claim as instructed, and was denied reimbursement. I recently filed for an appeal, however, I am in disbelief that I was told to wait for 48 hours with a 104 degree fever so I could wait for a guarantee of pay that by the way, isn't accepted by any of the hospitals I visited. I have so many thoughts and feelings on the program, but honestly, health of students trumps it all. This program charged obscene amounts of money to pay for an insurance that put me in danger, and I still have failed to receive an apology or reimbursement. I hope this doesn't sound exaggerated, but the experience of being sick in a new place is always tough, let alone Malaria in a foreign country with little to no assistance. However, I simply cannot stress how disorganized and unsafe this experience was.

* Safety:

Please see my comments on how administration handled COVID.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

That was a traumatic experience. The only reason I selected two stars is because the experience wasn't so completely awful that I never want to return to Rwanda and Uganda, however it will be a long while before I do.


* 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)

Honestly, COVID through a wrench in things and having the ability to tour cheaper apartments/ride public transportation/go to bigger markets wasn't feasible, making the cost of living much higher. There was no support from SIT when these voices were concerned until our universities were involved, and even then we were only allocated an additional $50.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't study with SIT.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • Places
  • People
  • Culture
* What could be improved?
  • Health
  • Organization
  • Entire program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had gone with a different program to be completely honest.

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.'