Do NOT do this program if you have self-respect. Past Review

By (Oberlin College) - abroad from 01/29/2018 to 05/09/2018 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Study abroad does not have to be like this. My time would have been much better spent doing a different, more functional, study away program or not studying away at all. I thought this program would be a catalyst for my growth, however, being so controlled all the time caused me to atrophy on an academic and emotional level.

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.

The amount of content taught throughout the semester would have only been one unit at my home institution. The hardest part of the classes was knowing what exactly was expected/ how we would be graded. The prof.s were new to teaching so there was a learning curve for everyone. That being said, I did not take this program for the academic rigor, so this did not bother me greatly.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Beyond awful. The leadership spoke to students in a baby voices. Every activity was micromanaged and new rules were constantly being made. This, combined with the extreme isolation, was psychologically tasking. Though I belive that the leadership in our program was particularly bad, she chose to micromanage when she did not have to for example we were told to pick a partner for an activity then, once people had chosen their friends, they split us into two groups, it was just as a college student to have the leadership which was only a few years older get to tell me, in a degrading fashion, who I walk with on a hike through a cloud forest or when I can pee.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Not a 5 star hotel, but you are going to the jungle so you should expect that. The housing we had was nicer than most of the people in the surrounding are. The only issue is that drywall molds in the jungle. (Well, everything molds in the jungle). So it's sorta moldy and stinky but, it was fine. I heard they are improving the housing too.

* Food:

Meals: There was a strike in the region which made it harder to get fruits and vegetables. However, you can always get really yummy fruits fresh from the jungle in the neighboring town! The kitchen staff are the kindest people on the earth. I am a vegetarian. A lot of times the vegetarian option was a deep fried breaded vegetable like cauliflower. Meals usually consistaed of rice and something else (maybe a stir-fry or fried Amazonian fish), and sometimes salad or beans. There was one vegan, she did NOT get enough food/ nutrients. I arrived to Peru in good shape but it's so hot and humid it was hard to workout, my BMI definitely increased and my muscle tone decreased. Snacks: Snacks are NOT provided all the time (even though they told us they would be). Don't fall into this trap. However, there was usually peanut butter available. You can purchase nature valley bars at the Iquitos grocery store sometimes. I would recommend packing some bars. We nicknamed Sunday "Day of starvation". On Sunday students are given access to the portable stove and are supposed to be provided with ingredients to make our own meals. We were not given enough ingredients for everyone to have enough (even though many people also supplemented these ingredients with their own that they purchased in Iquitos).

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Any bond I developed outside SFS was despite the program not because of it.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Because the students were so alienated by the staff in charge of us students did not feel comfortable going to the staff when we had health concerns. (Also, SFS has some weird rules about staff going with you to the hospital and what you have to pay).

* Safety:

The Amazon is a place with lot of different ways you can get hurt. Safety was the constant rational for the micromanagement we endured. However, this was a power play, many of the most dangerous things, like the road at night were barely addressed and things that could have easily increased student safety were not implemented. The most harmful thing that occurred over the course of our trip was the psychological hardship of being constantly treated like a child who is not to be trusted.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

This program is good for people who are nervous and incompitant. You will be micromanaged and degraded. You are NOT treated like a valuable and promising young scientist. You are treated like an obnoxious and untrustworthy child. It was incredibly inappropriate and unpleasant in this regard.


* 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 depends on if you're a vegetarian and on how much you eat. The main things to buy is fruit or little packages of cookies which cost less than a dollar. The beer a little under three dollars. So this depends on how much you go out. The major money draws were the vacation weeks/ days.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? The flying dog hostel is nice enough, no need to blow more money on a more expensive place. Always check if you are getting the 'special gringo prices'. If you are just politely ask and they will wave it. In the Andes- know how much things should cost like water and nature valley bars for example, then ask for that price when they tell you some steep gringo price.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None

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?
  • Talking to local people
  • athe constant background noise of the jungle
  • Break in Cusco
* What could be improved?
  • leadership at SFS peru
  • clarity and communication
  • proper marketing of the program as "not cultural immersion"
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Looking back I still cannot totally belive how we were treated. Even if you would have told me how bad and unprofessional the leadership would have been I wouldn't have understood. I am a positive person, and I have lived in small community for years, please please DO NOT DO THIS PROGRAM... but if you do, bring two thin towels and don't bring leather because of mold. Buy clothing treated with permethrine for the mosquitos and bugs (especially socks, 3-4 pairs).

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'