Bhutan- A country in the clouds Past Review

By (Environmental Studies, Brandeis University) - abroad from 06/05/2017 to 07/13/2017 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I've thought about this question a lot since I got back, and I'm still not entirely sure how to answer it. What I gained isn't something that can easily be described. I definitely learned a lot about Bhutan and their conservation practices, and now I can say I've participated in this once-in-a-lifetime research experience, but I've also gained something else. As with all experiences with different cultures, I've learned something more about the world as a whole, and about myself.

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.

We had a lot to learn, and only 6 weeks to learn it! We went quickly from project to project with little downtime, but it was en exhilarating and academically rigorous program.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The dorms were quite nice. There was a kitchen which we could use to cook our own food, and the staff always kept it stocked with basic snacks.

* Food:

The food was excellent! I had been a little bit worried that I would find the food too spicy, but it was great! The kitchen staff made sure to ease us into higher spice levels, and always gave us options that weren't as spicy. Also, be on the lookout for momos (Bhutanese dumplings), since they're fantastic!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Many of our beginning lectures focused on Bhutanese culture, so that we had a framework in which we could understand the conservation practices that we learned about. Because of this, and because many of our staff were Bhutanese, I felt well-integrated into the community.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I personally didn't experience any health issues while abroad, but some of the other students were quickly treated when they became sick.

* Safety:

There was never a time while I was in Bhutan that I felt unsafe, even when we were wandering through the forests (and admittedly getting lost a bit) to do research.

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)

All of our meals were provided for by the SFS, so the only extra costs we needed to account for were personal. I spent around $250 on souvenirs (granted I had a lot of people to buy for), and all of the students bought the traditional Bhutanese formal attire, which was around $35.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? When you find something that you like that isn't explicitly made by the person you're buying from, you might be able to find it somewhere else for a cheaper price. If you're in Paro or Thimphu, look around at a few stores' prices before you get something. Also, you'll find more variety in imported items and you'll be able to buy them for cheaper if you're in a major city (like Paro or Thimphu). I was only able to find a regular-sized Nutella jar when we were in Thimphu, so plan ahead with your snacks!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • The people
  • The food
  • The scenery
* What could be improved?
  • I think 6 weeks is a little short for all that we learned
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known to bring a real umbrella! I brought with me one of the small fold-up umbrellas, and while that worked, it got soaked through enough times for me to want to have brought one of the larger umbrellas.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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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.