Amazing Location: Not for the Independent or Culturally Curious Past Review

By (Environmental Science, Wellesley College) - abroad from 09/07/2015 to 12/16/2015 with

The School for Field Studies / SFS: Peru – Amazon Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I think it was worthwhile because it is such a unique opportunity to live in the rainforest for an extended period of time. I gained field research experience and simply grit from living in a mentally and physically challenging environment.

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.

It was rigorous, but more due to the volume of work we were required to produce rather than the fact that each assignment was valuable in itself.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Everything was very well organized and staff was highly open to feedback.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

It is amazing to be able to live right in the rainforest, but students should be aware that you will be living in close quarters and sharing a room with several other people.

* Food:

There was greater variety of food than I expected, and the cooks were accommodating of vegetarians. The program also always had snacks available for us.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The research station is isolated from the community. At the station, to a large extent you are living in an island of U.S./European culture. The staff is working on programs to become better integrated into the community, but these will take a long time to develop fully.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Health was treated very seriously. However, you sometimes do not have the liberty to make health decisions on your own. For example, the program staff has the power to require you to seek (more expensive) treatment at a more advanced health center if they think it necessary.

* Safety:

I always felt safe.

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)

SFS provides everything you need on a daily basis. Once you are at the field station there are very few ways to spend money. The only exception is the mid-semester break, when you do have to fund yourself. It will be more expensive if you elect to go to Machu Picchu. If not, you could probably spend less than $150.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $5


* 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

Language was not really a focus of the program. It was more of a means to an end. However, the staff did occasionally facilitate opportunities to practice Spanish informally.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Spanish 273
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? If you want to improve your Spanish, make friends and speak with the Peruvian staff!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* 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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Opportunity to conduct original research
  • Staff was excellent at creating a sense of community
  • Amazing location and learning opportunities it provided (including opportunities to travel within Peru!)
* What could be improved?
  • Give students more independence
  • Increase opportunities to practice Spanish
  • Focus on assigning high-quality assignments, rather than smaller less academically rich assignments
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Think about how you deal with being in close quarters with a small group for three and a half months. Know that you will not have very much independence, and you will be scheduled a lot of the time. I also wish I had spoken with an program alumna for packing advice!

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.