Loved SITA, Loved Madurai, Loved India. Past Review

By (Sociology, Bowdoin College) - abroad from 08/17/2015 to 11/30/2015 with

South India Term Abroad - SITA

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My experience was challenging but incredibly rewarding. I learned a lot about myself (what fascinates me, my potential career path) and fell in love with India.

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.

The classes were intellectually stimulating. I enjoyed them very much. They did not require a lot of work, which allowed me to have more time to spend with my host family and explore Madurai. The teachers were attentive and always willing to help. The last month of the program, we were able to conduct our own research projects. These projects took a significant amount of time and were exhausting, but it was thrilling to be able to study a subject out of pure interest.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program directors and resident director were phenomenal. They were kind, compassionate, and available whenever you needed them, day or night.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I switched host families halfway through the semester because of a bad experience with them. The staff at SITA was extremely supportive and helpful during that transition. They moved me to a new host family, and I got along extremely well with them. The houses themselves were completely fine, no complaints.

* Food:

Amazing, amazing food. My host family usually fed me, but we also went to restaurants a lot. I got sick only twice from food at bad restaurants. The bouts of sickness were not unmanageable, and SITA helped me get the proper medication when needed.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I loved staying with a host family. I really got to know and understand Madurai from a unique perspective. My professors were Indian, and I met local students at a nearby college. I took Bollywood dance classes twice a week and got to meet other locals there. SITA also organized several visits to temples and sites around Madurai as well as two week-long tours in other states.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The local healthcare system was fine. I did not ever have any serious medical conditions while there, but I am confident that their would be proper care at a local hospital. SITA staff was very attentive when I did get food poisoning twice.

* Safety:

There were no safety-related incidents during my time abroad. Madurai is a very safe city. Being a woman, I was concerned for my safety in India, but was pleasantly surprised. Most people just say "Hi!" to you on the street because they are excited to see a foreigner, but other than that, there was minimal interaction with strangers. Just to be cautious, though, I would not recommend walking around late at night by yourself. It is always best to have company at night. During the day, I felt perfectly comfortable to explore on my own.

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)

Living on a student's budget was extremely easy. I spent about $1.50-$3 on lunch each day, and about $2/day for taxi rides to get to and from my host family's home. If we decided to go to the movies or shopping, I had plenty of money leftover to use.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? ~$50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? You really won't need to save money. You'll have plenty leftover.


* 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

We has Tamil classes everyday and were encouraged to use it at home and with the locals. The class was a beginner's level Tamil course.

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? For Tamil, no classes.
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? Speak Tamil with your host families and the SITA staff.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • 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?
  • Independent study project.
  • SITA directors & staff.
  • Two week-long tours to Kerala and Karnataka.
* What could be improved?
  • More interaction with local students.
  • More students on SITA program.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had told myself to explore as much of Madurai as possible before it was too late.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!