SITA is wonderful Past Review

By (Grinnell College) - abroad from 08/15/2015 to 11/29/2015 with

South India Term Abroad - SITA

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
SITA is completely worthwhile! Living in Madurai (a relatively small city with very few Westerners living there) changed my perspective on so many things. You will be challenged and you will come out a better person.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Courseload was easier than I was used to at my home institution, but there are plenty of opportunities to be challenged, especially when it comes to the independent study component. You're in control- your classwork is what you make of it

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

It's a small program and you know the administrators personally. They're very kind people

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved loved loved my host family! They were incredibly kind and welcoming people and I'm still in contact with them. My only complaint is that at a couple of points it got crowded in the house because extended family members and friends moved in- you really get the experience of family life!

* Food:

A+ Indian food!! Breakfast and dinner were cooked by my host family and my classmates and I went out for lunch almost every day. The exchange rate is great for Americans, so a pretty good meal is only a few dollars!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We learned a lot about Tamil culture in class and on field trips. It was a little tricky to make friends outside of class because Madurai is a pretty conservative town and you can't exactly go out to the bars. But our professors were helpful in getting us in contact with other college students

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't really have any health problems besides a bout of nasty food poisoning. Profs and staff were really understanding, and my host family provided some interesting home remedies

* Safety:

Female-bodied people: you will be stared at and yelled at, you will probably be followed around. But I never got into any real trouble. You just have to be very conscious of how to behave, how to dress, when you shouldn't be out on your own, etc. I went to Delhi after the SITA term was over and it was much, much worse. Madurai is a breeze by comparison

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

I had actually intended to do IES Delhi, since it fit more with my academic interests (I'm a Poli Sci major and SITA is Anthro focused), but then that program was canceled and I jumped into SITA last minute. The professors were really flexible and helped me incorporate my Poli Sci interests!


* 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)

Madurai is super cheap! I often had money left over at the end of the week to buy trinkets and silk saris. Beside the cost of the plane ticket to get there, SITA is definitely a great choice for your finances


* 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 did not learn enough Tamil to really be able to talk to people, but we were able to have basic conversations and read the script, which is really cool!

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? Spanish 217
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? Watch a lot of Tamil TV. Your host family will probably be pleased that you want to watch serials with them

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
  • Host Family
* What could be improved?
  • More chances to make friends our age
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Bring dry shampoo. Your host family probably won't have hot water and you won't always want to wash your hair in the morning

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.'