Bhutan, the Land of Learning Past Review

By (Conservation Biology, Saint Lawrence University) for

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so many things about myself, expanded my view of our global culture, and really began to understand the beauty in simplicity. It really solidified my interest in conservation biology, sustainable development and rooted my ideas about they way to live. It has got me siked for my next internship at the eco school learning about permaculture in New Zealand.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: School for Field Studies Bhutan 2011, University of Otago second semester 2011
How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

While time was spent learning in "classroom" the majority of learning occurred in the field or while I was out and about, traveling with the group or exploring with a few other students. With two very amazing American professors the teaching can be compared to your smallish private university class room, but the nature of the program lends itself to experiential learning that is just amazing.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The travel, accommodations, food, and everything logistic about the program is just amazing when you really start to understand the place that your traveling in. The size of the group felt really perfect, I would have not wanted anymore nor any less people in the group. The size made for a very close knit group and interesting dynamic, bigger than a small family, but much smaller than a sports team. Odd way of describing the group size, but you really actually get to know everyone. When I did the program it was only in its second year, really its second session ever. I had no real expectations for the program other than that I was going to have an amazing experience. It is still in the building and shaping process. The bottom line is that you will be traveling to an amazing place, experiencing amazing things, meeting beautiful people and if you go into the whole deal with an open mind about all aspects of the journey you will reach a the final destination much more enlightened about the simplicities of life and with an open mind about unique cultures.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

At one point I stayed at a place very comparable to a bed and breakfast, this was my favorite accommodation of the trip actually. Smallish place with amazing food and a heavy serving of culture. We danced and sang the night away sharing "folk" songs with our Bhutanese hosts.

* Food:

I do not have any dietary restrictions, but the those in our group had their needs met. The food was generally very good, do realize that you are going to a high altitude area and the local produce there is constrained by the limitations of altitude. With this understood you will be amazed. I hope you like red rice! When you get free time head down to Jakar and get some Jah and momos, poke around follow the locals, they'll lead you to the best spots.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The Rimpoche's Birthday at the monastery, Directed Study in Bhumthang, These were the most memorable events that really stick-out, however I felt that everything that you do when you are in Bhutan is special somehow and you will get something out of it. Sure there will be amazing trips to Tigers Nest or through the capital, but you will get out what you put in. My advise here is to engage in everything that you do on the trip, by the end you will wish you were staying longer.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I felt very safe the entire time I was traveling with the program, in various airports, traveling to and from airports and layovers. You are very well taken care of, the student affairs manager is amazing and our student intern was absolutely amazing to travel with.

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)

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Hotel
  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Local Students
  • Other

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The overwhelming amount of new you experience.
* What could be improved?
  • More freedom to explore once you reach your home base.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Engage engage engage, go in with an absolutely open mind and engage everyday every hour, you will have an unforgettable experience.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Himalayan Forests, Watersheds and Rural Livelihoods

Course Department: EE(NS) 358
Instructor: Robin R. Sears, Ph.D., SFS Lisa Eby, Ph.D., University of Montana, Sonam Phuntsho, M.Sc., UWICE Thinley Wangdi, M.Sc., UWICE
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The course was challenging, as a conservation biology major the course material itself was not to challenging that it was difficult, but the professors realized that I was a biology major and just expected a higher level of work from me and thus challenged me as an individual. If you are not a biology or environmental science major you should have no worry, the professors are very adaptable to what each student is really looking to get out of the course. The location was used for relevant 'field' trips, but this was were the challenges for me really began. The challenges and growth occurred in the academic realm, but also in the spiritual, emotional and intellectual realms as you are traveling in an amazingly unique country with an exceptionally complex culture. Balancing your classroom learning with everything your seeing and experiencing outside the classroom becomes the real challenge, but at the same time it becomes the area of most personal growth. w
Credit Transfer Issues: