Lifelong friendships and family made January 03, 2023

By (Womens and Gender Studies, Wellesley College) - abroad from 08/28/2022 to 12/11/2022 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
As someone who hadn't travelled internationally before, I gained a lot of confidence exploring and building connections with people on my own. I also made incredibly significant relationships that I will keep for a long time.

Review Photos

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

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.

People will probably find the academic rigor less intense than Wellesley, but it balances out with the many other ways the program is demanding - mentally, emotionally, physically - from the intensity of the topics covered, to the jam-packed schedule (especially the first couple weeks), to just the general stress of adjusting to a new culture and community. It's all manageable and there is a great support system but a slightly decreased academic rigor is necessary - and I certainly don't feel like I learned any less than a typical Wellesley semester.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Celine is *remarkably* reassuring, inspiring, and in tune with the needs of the students on the program. The on-site staff was one of the best parts of the program and everyone in my cohort felt the same way.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

For a lot of people in my cohort, the homestay was definitely one of the biggest challenges of the program. However, it is only 4 weeks long so they all survived and most people ultimately still had fulfilling experiences after adjusting. I personally had an incredible experience with my homestay family and will forever be connected with them. The living arrangements at the SIT apartment were excellent.

* Food:

The diet is very starch-based and uses less seasoning than a lot of people may be used to. It takes some adjustment but I highly recommend exploring restaurants (the full fish at Green Corner in Nyamirambo was one of the best meals I've ever had!)

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

You have to take personal initiative to fully integrate with the local culture but there are plenty of opportunities to do so (homestay family and internship to name a few!)!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I'm diabetic and have a couple other health needs so healthcare was a very important consideration in my trip. I didn't have any issues on my trip but I do feel like I was a little mislead about the accessibility of certain medications. Pharmacies run out often so even if you're told you can find what you'll need, it's safest to bring a full supply of your medication. I'm grateful I did.

* Safety:

The city is perfectly safe to walk around alone and at night. It was super nice to have that option and made exploring so easy.

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

The program far exceeded my expectations in every aspect. I made so many lasting relationships and learned so much. I also stretched myself and grew.


* 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)

Cost of living is much less than in the United States and we are provided stipends for food when we are living on our own. The suggested $100 budget from SIT for personal costs for the entire trip is a bit unrealistic, but I still would say I spent less than I would in a typical semester back home. Especially considering the frequency I was going out to coffee shops, etc.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? We got a stipend of $18/day for food ($4 for breakfast and $7 for lunch and dinner) and I think about $10/week for transportation. The stipend typically balanced out to be pretty much the right amount.


* 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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? none
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? The homestay was an excellent opportunity to take advantage of for learning the language - my host siblings were particularly excited to practice with and teach me! It is definitely possible to navigate much of Kigali with just English and minimal Kinyarwanda but there are so many benefits to trying to use Kinyarwanda as much as possible - it demonstrates respect and appreciation for the culture and gains you respect from the locals. It sparks a lot of great conversations and relationships when people realize you know some of the language. HIGHLY recommend leaning into the language even if it's a more challenging component.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Apartment
* 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?
  • Homestay
  • Internship component
  • SIT Rwanda staff
* What could be improved?
  • Some days, especially at the beginning of the program, were incredibly long due to a packed schedule, sessions frequently going overtime, and transportation to/from homestay taking a long time
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I think my lack of travel experience actually helped me in some ways because I wasn't coming in with many specific expectations. I did notice, however, that some of the other people in my cohort with more experience travelling had significant challenges with this program because the emotional rigor is unlike most other travel/study abroad programs. While the staff were excellent support systems, having the capacity to be in tune and care for oneself was essential to making it through the program healthily. It is also worth noting that SIT was a bit misleading on the accessibility of therapy - regular therapy is not provided (though they indicate otherwise). It is only available in the case of mental health emergencies. This was an issue for some members of our group who were expecting that to be an option.

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.'