A Semester of Rashes, Parasites, and Mold but also FUN TIMES Past Review

By (Carleton College) - abroad from 08/27/2018 to 12/05/2018 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to navigate foreign cities and that some people are really into plants.

Review Photos

The School for Field Studies / SFS: Peru - Biodiversity & Development in the Andes-Amazon Photo The School for Field Studies / SFS: Peru - Biodiversity & Development in the Andes-Amazon Photo The School for Field Studies / SFS: Peru - Biodiversity & Development in the Andes-Amazon Photo The School for Field Studies / SFS: Peru - Biodiversity & Development in the Andes-Amazon Photo The School for Field Studies / SFS: Peru - Biodiversity & Development in the Andes-Amazon Photo

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.

The classes were relatively easy which is to be expected from and what I wanted out of study abroad. Tropical ecology was the only class that was similar work-wise to classes at Carleton but other people on the program found the classes to more work than at their home institutions. The internet was not reliable during my semester there which made some projects hard to finish but the teachers were understandable about ethernet issues.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Since we were only the 2nd semester of students there the center was not well constructed yet. They continued to make lots of improvements during our time there and I think over time the facility will be much better! The hammocks were a great addition!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The beds were much nicer than I expected for a program in the jungle. We had thick mattresses and good bug nets. The only issues I had with housing were things they couldn't control such as bug infestations, but that is part of living in the Amazon.

* Food:

The food was delicious and I was amazed that over the course of the semester they almost never duplicated recipes. I think it was a bit harder for the vegetarians because the veggie options were pretty similar every night and at the beginning not enough vegetables were made for everyone. However, after talking to the staff about that issue they attempted to make more veggie options available at every meal.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I think it was hard to truly get to know the locals at the beginning because the program is so structured and we were in a small town. However, some people made friends with the high school students in the area.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I ended up getting incredibly sick with a parasite close to the end of the program and the staff were very helpful and had soup and crackers for those of us who were sick and took my samples to the local health clinic that were processed within a few hours allowing me to start the anti-parasitic medication almost immediately.

* Safety:

On the program site we were very safe. During weekends away and on mid-semester break they talked to us about safety but if you have traveled before and/or have basic safety precautions you should be totally fine. I never felt unsafe anywhere on this program.

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

Even though I struggled at the end and got tired of the jungle it was still an amazing experience and I got to see things I could never have imagined


* 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)

Since almost everything is paid for in advance, the only time I truly spent money was during weekends away and during our mid-semester break in Cusco and even during those times everything was incredibly cheap. I think my most expensive hostel was $15 per night and we were staying in the nicer hostels.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Be careful how much cash you bring because it will mold in the jungle so you will not want to bring any home. However, some people had to change cash over all the time and they struggled with finding places for that.


* 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

It was very much your choice whether or not to use your Spanish. Many of my friends didn't speak Spanish so when we were out I got to translate and I think that helped improve my Spanish a lot!

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
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? College Spanish
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? Make an effort to speak to locals and to use it whenever you can. A good thing is when speakers come in and give presentations in Spanish because you can practice translating to yourself.

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?
  • Living on a river boat at Pacaya Samiria and waking up to river dolphins outside our window
  • Traveling in the Andes
  • Going to the Rareic rescue center
* What could be improved?
  • Increase the fans in the classroom
  • Increase the number of lounge spaces
  • Spending more time in the Andes
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Rashes are inevitable and everyone will have them. Everything will mold. There will be lots of bugs but you will learn which ones you can live with and which ones you can't. Choose a directed research project that really interests you because it's a lot of time to spend on something that doesn't. Bring less bug spray and more snacks.