Tried the chapulines so I'll be back soon Oaxaca August 24, 2018

By (Western Kentucky University) - abroad from 06/09/2018 to 08/11/2018 with

Sol Education Abroad - Study Abroad in Mexico at University of Oaxaca

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Incredibly worthwhile. Not only do I feel so much more competent in Spanish now (though I've still got a ways to go) I feel like I really got to experience southern Mexico. I loved it and there's so much more of Mexico and of Oaxaca that I want to explore now.

Review Photos

Sol Education Abroad - Study Abroad in Mexico at University of Oaxaca Photo Sol Education Abroad - Study Abroad in Mexico at University of Oaxaca Photo Sol Education Abroad - Study Abroad in Mexico at University of Oaxaca Photo Sol Education Abroad - Study Abroad in Mexico at University of Oaxaca Photo Sol Education Abroad - Study Abroad in Mexico at University of Oaxaca Photo

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.

I took several literature classes while in Mexico and they were definitely challenging, but more importantly I think my professor really helped me improve my conversation skills.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I LOVE my family in Oaxaca. They are at least 70% of the reason why I had such an incredible summer there.

* Food:

All the food was delicious and I personally never ended up dealing with any stomach issues. Plus now I have a new appreciation for spicy :)

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

You definitely feel different being an American in a more indigenous area of Mexico, but I've never been more quickly accepted into social groups (intercambios, my host sisters friends, host family). Everyone was always willing to let me practice conversation with them.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The only "health issue" I had was a scuffed up a knee and they took me to the Red Cross to get it cleaned. Seemed a little excessive for a scraped knee given I could have handled it myself but I appreciated the concern.

* Safety:

Never had any concerns about my safety. Always paid attention to my surroundings of course but I was never worried.

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

Again, my host family made so much of the experience for me. I love them dearly and will be visiting them again as soon as I can.

Finances

* 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)

Not sure how this rating works but I didn't end up spending NEARLY as much as I thought I would. It's incredibly easy to live and enjoy Oaxaca on a budget. I'm not super attracted to the typical touristy things though and those are the more expensive (though not terrible; definitely more affordable than equivalents in the US). If you stay with the locals, you are more than fine.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Depended on the week. $25 maybe
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Talk to the locals. Talk to your family. Talk to the program coordinators in your location. All of them likely have advice for what is worth the cost, what is overpriced, fun stuff to do for cheap, etc. Don't be shy, ask someone for ideas!

Language

* 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

The home stay encouraged me to use Spanish more than the program events necessarily. That's because we had students of all different levels of Spanish, so I don't think it would have been very fair to have purely used Spanish with us all the time. Where it was appropriate, it was used, or used in combination with English.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 300-level Spanish (conversation, composition, grammar)
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Dive in. It's a hard process to flip your brain into thinking in a different language, and input is super important. Read in that language, watch tv (netflix) in that language, listen to music in that language, and most importantly have people to practice speaking with. If you have a housemate(s) from the US, try to use Spanish as much as possible. You'll chat in English plenty (because it's easier it's our first language), but whenever you can, use Spanish. It really helps, but you have to be all in.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* 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?
  • Host family experience
  • Cultural activities around the city
  • Exploring the culture
* What could be improved?
  • Activities for students who stay more than one session
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? You will probably stand out in Oaxaca. You just will; it's part of it. You'll look different, act different, dress different, and the people there will notice. Be aware but don't be scared, most of the time it's just attention.

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.'