Stories with incredible people, in an incredible place, at an incredible time. May 24, 2023

By (Environmental Science, Middlebury College) - abroad from 01/28/2023 to 05/09/2023 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I have a lot of stories now with a lot of incredible people, in an incredible place, at an incredible time. Worthwhile absolutely.

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.

Academics were not as rigorous as expected prior but was quickly made up for in a cultural education experience.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Each administrator is an absolute character in the best way. Miss them all so dearly.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Gangtey Palace is such a lovely location with a very warm and welcoming environment for everybody. Housing was wonderful.

* Food:

The cooks were phenomenal... and so happy to take requests and leave out resources for students to use.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Quickly and immediately...

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any issues but friends had to go to emergency room (cut finger) and seek medication to which both were treated promptly (and health care paid for it completely).

* Safety:

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

If I could live once more I would live exactly as I have lived... somebody said and was later paraphrased (more than once).


* 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)

It's very easy to live on next to nothing... once you arrive in Bhutan. Factoring in plane tickets and immunizations this is hard but on arrival, it's very cheap.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 20


* 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

Mandated to an elementary degree in one class but was moderately encouraged in every day conversations.

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? Nothing in Dzongkha
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? Talk to locals! And ask advice or translations for words from anybody you meet!

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?
  • People
  • Culture
  • Mountains
* What could be improved?
  • NA
  • NA
  • NA
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The world is as large as it is small. Depends where you look... and how.

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 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.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Directed Research

Course Department: INTD
Instruction Language: English
Comments: It was challenging... and definitely more rigorous then the other classes. Learned a lot about the entire scientific process in a hands-on applicable sense, with plenty of opportunity for field research and data collection. The instuctor is well experienced and has a broad and fascinating history in regards to that particular study focus.
Credit Transfer Issues: Haven't yet tried but shouldn't expect there to be any issues. Final paper is easily the equivalent of any science thesis research final product.
Course Name/Rating:

Moutain Ecology

Course Department: Env Science
Instruction Language: Enlgish
Comments: It was the least intense of the several classes offered, mostly chalked up to the fact it was the professor's first time teaching this study area. However, there was ample opportunity for field study and implementation as well field trips included. However, final test was a little confusion in what was expected and homework was graded by several visiting professors rather than just one making expectations a little blurry.
Credit Transfer Issues: It should transfer no issues and has been pre-approved for credit transfer into the geology major at school.
Course Name/Rating:

Religion and Culture of Bhutan

Course Department: INTD
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Would rate this class more stars if I could. Got a basic introduction into Dzongkha, food, religion and its various iconographies, and had many opportunities to reflect and discuss, with both my classmates and Bhutanese people. Both teachers brought incredible insight into the conversation and were some of my favorite professors I've ever had.
Credit Transfer Issues: Haven't tried to transfer yet.
Course Name/Rating:


Course Department: Poli Sci
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Less traditional science compared to the other courses, it seemed one contiguous dialogue about the various environmental issues concerning Bhutan as well as globally. Lots of room for discussion and field trips, as well as the fact that Kenga is a brilliant professor with a wide range of experience and expertise to share.
Credit Transfer Issues: Haven't tried yet.
Course Name/Rating:


Course Department: Env Science
Instruction Language: Enlgish
Comments: Was somewhere in between mountain ecology and PSEDE in regards to difficulty and expectations. However, Tempa has this way of teaching which is so unique yet simultaneously so enlightening. Learned a lot about the specific institutions Bhutan has implemented to conserve it's natural resources as well as techniques that could be adopted elsewhere.
Credit Transfer Issues: Haven't tried yet.