The experience of a lifetime, with (difficult to avoid) limitations Past Review

By (Columbia University) - abroad from 08/27/2018 to 12/06/2018 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a thorough understanding of local ecology, conservation efforts, and political and social movement in theory from my semester abroad. I think the only thing that could have been improved upon was the local cultural immersion through more opportunities to explore the city on our own, less curfew and campus building restrictions, and less difficulty with leaving campus to meet up with local friends and acquaintances. Again, this is mostly a function of SFS and the rules they impose as an institution, as opposed to the staff members at Peru themselves. Overall, it is a small price to pay for the opportunity to immerse yourself so completely in a setting so far removed from what most US students are ever able to experience, and to make such meaningful connections.

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff at the Center for Amazon studies make sure that you get the most out of the environment, culture, and community as you can given the regulations of SFS as an organization. While these regulations can be somewhat strict, they do allow each student to get the absolute most out of their education and engage with their environment in a holistic way. While I can't speak to some of the newer staff members, I know that everyone living and working at the center during my semester in Peru could not have been more helpful, kind, and generous. If you commit to this program and are as excited about ecology, soils, agriculture, and South American culture as everyone in my semester was, then you will have the time of your life. I know these are four months I will never regret.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $10-20 USD, maximum. Very affordable


* 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

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? Intermediate
How many hours per day did you use the language?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • Environmental immersion
  • Caring staff and class topics
  • Opportunities to engage with other students and to disconnect from technology
* What could be improved?
  • Restrictions on student freedoms
  • Too little unstructured time
  • Treat students like adults
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew that they meant it when they said not to bring thick, cotton clothing. Anything and everything will mold. The Amazon is unlike anything you have ever known, but you'll like it that way.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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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.