Key to Happiness Past Review

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 06/06/2016 to 07/14/2016 with

The School for Field Studies / SFS: Bhutan - Bhutan - Himalayan Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I had entered this program hoping to learn why Bhutan, a country of only 700,000 people, was considered to be the happiest country in the world. I asked many people during my study abroad experience, what is your key to happiness? One answer clearly resonated with the community, from my perspective. "Be happy with what you have, and do good onto others." This type of attitude I hoped and am trying to maintain while being in America. I can proudly say I have gained a beautiful perspective of the world as I mentioned before. In addition to learning about happiness, I have been shown firsthand the kindness of Bhutanese people. Even to this day, I don't know how to explain the kindness that has been extended to me, a foreigner and a stranger. While working on our directed research project, my group visited farmers' homes in order to interview them. Every single person, without question, welcomed us into their homes and offered us snacks and tea. When another student and I visited a local student's home, she welcomed us eagerly and even gave us gifts. There are so many more instances of kindness that people have extended to us throughout the entire program. Overall, it was an extremely worthwhile experience and I would not trade it for anything in the world.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The teachers were wonderful and always willing to help if needed. The classes incorporated our environment very well and provided good, but not overwhelming challenges. I come from a biology background, so learning about so many new things of environmental sciences, policies, and ecology was very interesting!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The Bhutanese staff were so kind and did an incredible job at taking care of all of us.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The beds were not the best, but overall the scenery was incredible. You wake up to the mountains every morning. It is very difficult not to feel breathless after seeing that.

* Food:

Incredible. I don't think I have ever had food as incredible as the dishes the UWICE staff made in the cafeteria. I woke up everyday extremely excited for breakfast.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The teachers and staff made a great effort to help us better understand the Bhutanese culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

We were extremely well taken care of (by Casey during summer 2016). She made sure to have checkins with us, especially during the beginning of the program when digestive and altitude issues were at their peaks.

* Safety:

One of the students left his shopping bags in a store and a person from the store ran over to give the bags back. The people are extremely kind.

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

This program was probably the strangest program I could have found, and through my experiences for those six weeks, I have learned so many incredible things from the people and the culture of Bhutan. The person who I am now is not the same person two months ago because I have had the privilege of seeing a world where people do not focus on the materialistic and monetary goals. I have seen how happy and fulfilled people can be without needing many of the things we have in America. I have learned to be extremely thankful for the things I do have and to be happy from the simple things. I have gained a perspective of the world that I hope to keep for the rest of my life. I have met kind and incredible students and locals along the way who have helped me build these views. If I had the opportunity to live it all again, I undoubtedly would choose to do so.


* 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)

Overall I spent $300 exactly. I bought many souvenirs such as prayer flags and such for friends back home. The price depends on how much you want to spend! The things in Bhutan do not cost much .

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $10 again, only if you want to! And the food is very cheap in Bhutan, especially Champkar, the town by the UWICE campus
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? The program takes care of everything you need. If you really want to save, you can bring small things with you like shampoo and soap, as I did, but it is not necessary!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* 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?
  • Meeting Bhutanese People and learning their culture
  • Other students of the program
  • Bhutanese Food
* What could be improved?
  • More free time
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Bhutanese people speak English very well, much better than I had anticipated. I also wish I remembered to bring bug spray with deet (get bug spray with a high percentage of deet just in case you get stuck in thailand for several days like we were!) That's all! Just get ready to be uncomfortable, but before you know it, Bhutan will become your second home!

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.