Quite the experience in Tanzania Past Review

By (Middlebury College) - abroad from 01/28/2017 to 05/12/2017 with

SIT Study Abroad: Tanzania - Zanzibar Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained confidence, biology skills, and the ability to navigate in social situations where culture and language are not my own.

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.

I learned a lot in a short time. We had a lot of hands on experience which was a refreshing break from the lectures and late nights spent doing homework. I did get to experience a very different culture as well. There was little free time to relaz and explore on our own, and at times I felt very isolated.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The academic director was very passionate and engaged. He was definitely there for us whenever we needed him. He also knew a lot about just about everything. He did enjoy his own talking a bit too much at times.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The homestay was great and the guest houses we stayed in were very comfortable.

* Food:

The food was great but I did miss vegetables after a while. The fruit was incredible though.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The program did a great job of integrating us in the local culture, but in the end it was my own fault that I didn't put myself out there more.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Health was accessible, it simply is not up to American standards. They did not have the resources to give tests, so they just gave antibiotics as a solution to everything. The clinics were limited. They did the best they could, but I felt scared and unsure. I could have sought out the help of the people in the program, but in the end, they weren't trained professionals and did not know how to help more than providing support. There were a lot of vaccines required that were expensive. The anti-malarials in particular were a nightmare to get a hold of and very expensive. I had a lot of trouble with my insurance.

* Safety:

The only danger are cars that might hit you in the narrow alleys, but as long as you pay attention it shouldn't be an issue. It is important to stay in groups at night, and be especially aware in Dar es Salaam.

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

I am happy with my decision to do this program


* 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)

Once in Tanzania, almost all my expenses were covered by my initial tuition payment. We were given weekly stipends for food and our living situations were paid for. The only extra expenses I had were for medical bills and gifts I bought to bring home, but both were reasonable and cheaper than in America. It was the flights and the medical expenses that were difficult to afford.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $5-10
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Pay for anti-malarials in country


* 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 were plenty of opportunities to speak the language both on our own with our host families and in class.

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? 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? learn some basics before hand and make an effort to speak with your host family

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Hotel
* 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?
  • experience-based
  • variety of experiences
  • the host families
* What could be improved?
  • more free time
  • more Kiswahili formal instruction
  • more decompression time at the end of the program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had bought my antimalarials in country and had practiced my Kiswahili more before leaving America.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:


Course Department: Language
Instructor: Various instructors
Instruction Language: English/Kiswahili
Comments: In this class, we learned basic Kiswahili. Homework included daily worksheets, and we met every day for a month for a few hours. We had two exams with both written and oral elements. All of our learning was reinforced outside the classroom with practice through assignments speaking with the Tanzanians around us. The teachers were amazing-patient, kind, and very dedicated. My only complaint is that our schedule only allowed us to meet for the first part of the program, and we no longer learned Kiswahili formally after the first six weeks.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management

Course Department: Biology
Instructor: Various instructors
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class is very difficult to describe because it was so integrated into the theme of the program. Every excursion, every field study we performed, and every lecture we attended at the local universities expanded on coastal ecology and resource management. This was very much an experience and discussion based course. We had one final exam that I felt very well prepared for. The best part was the hands on learning and seeing the organisms in their natural habitats in the field.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Environmental Research Methods and Ethics

Course Department: Biology
Instructor: Various Instructors
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The methods portion of this class was essential to this program. Matt Richmond was the main instructor who taught us biology field methods for marine and intertidal studies. We learned terrestrial biology methods from various instructors along the way as well. The ethics portion of this course was a little weaker. There was only one formal lecture that taught us mainly not to plagiarize. The rest of our teachings in ethics were in the form of informal discussions with some of our mentors and our academic instructor about what is best to do and not to do regarding human subjects and interviews for our independent projects.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Independent Study Project

Course Department: Biology
Instructor: Richard Walz
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class was very challenging but also rewarding. I gained a lot of experience and confidence with independent research. This project was entirely designed and conducted by me under the guidance of my adviser, Dr. Christopher Muhando and my academic director. For my project, I studied the benthic health of coral reefs. The field work was very physically demanding, and difficult to do on my own. It involved snorkeling and using a GoPro to take underwater photos of coral reefs. The report aspect of this project was also substantial. My final project was 55 pages long and a full scientific report that included background information, methods description, results, data analysis, and discussion of my results.
Credit Transfer Issues: