Field Studies Abroad in Panama Past Review

By (University of North Texas) - abroad from 06/05/2017 to 07/05/2017 with

The School for Field Studies / SFS: Panama - Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

For the Assessment of Sustainable Practices course, we were graded on four papers/projects and participation. The majority of what we learned took place in the field, with only a few lectures in the classroom. The assignments were all due close together near the end of the program, but we were given enough time to get everything done. In order to give us a better understanding of sustainable tourism in Bocas, the course covered a wide variety of topics, so I would recommend this class to students majoring in anything related to natural science, social science, or business.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Administration consisted of the Center Director (who was also one of our professors) and our Student Affairs Manager.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We road-tripped from Panama City to Bocas, and we stayed in a dorm, hotel, and hotel/hostel along the way. All three were nice. At the center itself, each room contains two sets of bunk beds and a bathroom. I shared a room with two other students. I didn't enjoy being a top bunk, but other than that, no complaints.

* Food:

The food at the center was a combination of Panamanian and American dishes. I enjoyed the majority of the food, though there were 2-3 items that I didn't really like. Snacks and leftovers are always available if you don't like a meal, so there's always plenty to eat.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Since the program was only a month long, I definitely still felt like a tourist when I left, especially since my Spanish-speaking skills are mediocre. However, Bocas is a really interesting place with a lot of interesting people and I would love to come back some day.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Healthcare is extremely limited in Bocas, but our Student Affairs Manager was ready to help us with any minor issues. You can also be taken to a nearby town to see a doctor if needed.

* Safety:

At no point did I feel unsafe in Panama. Just like anywhere else, you need to be aware of your surroundings and avoid potentially risky situations. Use the buddy system, especially at night.

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)

Things in Panama were generally a lot cheaper than in the US. However, many of the restaurants we went to were priced about the same as American ones. I spent a lot of money on souvenirs, but it isn't too hard to stick to a budget if you need to.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $10-20
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Try not to eat out too often. Taxi drivers and street vendors will try to rip tourists off, so ask about prices first.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Hotel
  • Hostel
* 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?
  • New friends
  • Amazing professors and staff
  • Amazing excursions and field experiences
* What could be improved?
  • Food could be improved slightly