A Life-Changing Experience Past Review

By (University of Colorado - Boulder) - abroad from 09/03/2019 to 12/11/2019 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Peru gave me the confidence to travel and live abroad, amazing friends, and applicable experience for my future as an ecologist. I never regretted for a second that I went.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

It was much more rigorous than I was expecting. There were rumors that the SFS Peru program is the most academically rigorous of all the programs. There were many times where I stayed up late or passed on fun opportunities in order to do schoolwork. The pacing of the classes was also bizarre. We would have nothing due for weeks and then everything would be due on the same week or day, which stressed everyone out. I would say that the classes I took here were similar, and at times, more intense, than my classes at my home institution. It's not hard in the sense of the material you are learning, but the projects are stressful and no one truly knows what the professors are looking for.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The center is extremely high quality compared to the relative standard of living in the area. The beds were good, but the pillows had room for improvement.

* Food:

Jorge and Charito are amazing cooks and kept us well-fed. There is a lot of variety for what you are getting at each meal and they are able to meet dietary requirements.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Since the goal of SFS is to provide academically rigorous classes and research opportunities, it was to be expected that integration into the culture is not necessarily the main goal. They did a great job of supplementing our semester with opportunities to connect with local communities including Eco Club, Mingas, and community get-togethers. The responsibility of additional social interactions with nearby communities falls on the student to go out and get it if that is what they're looking for. You get to see many different cultures in Peru throughout the program.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

There is a clinic in Cahuide that is only 3 km from the center that many of us utilized throughout the semester. The SAM for this program, Emily, is an amazing resource for the students and is responsive to medical needs. Students had some issues with plant rashes and parasites, but the clinics in Cahuide or Iquitos were usually able to help. For this program, we needed to get vaccinated for rabies, yellow fever, typhoid, and hepatitis, which were expensive.

* Safety:

SFS makes safety a priority and I never felt unsafe during program time. In Peru, you need to travel with other students when you leave the center until you pass your phone checks. The nearby communities are filled with incredibly nice locals who will also look out for you.

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

The people who choose to go to Peru are looking for something that is both hard and immensely rewarding. The difficult parts of the semester made the fun parts even better because you really have to push yourself to learn and grow in ways you never 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)

You will only spend your own money if you're buying snacks or gifts on program time. The majority of your expenses will be during the 2 weekends away and the mid-semester break in Cusco.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 10


* 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

The program gave us ample opportunities and encouragement to use Spanish while there. You can volunteer at Eco Club, help the cooks in the kitchen, chat with local staff, and go to La Habana or Cahuide if you want to use your Spanish. The only thing that I feel has room for improvement is that there was only one Spanish teacher and Spanish class for all of us, even though there was a wide variety of Spanish abilities. This either hampered people's ability to practice and learn high-level Spanish, or it threw complete beginners into the deep end with very little support.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner

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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • My fellow students
  • The local staff
  • Travel around Peru
* What could be improved?
  • The management of classes and due dates by professors
  • The pacing of the semester
  • Greater respect and trust given to students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew that the dress code is not as strict as they make it out to be when it comes to shorts and tank tops and swimsuits, you're actually able to communicate with your family and friends back home very easily if you figure out a simple trick or through the ethernet cords, Cusco and Wayqecha are COLD, don't bring any US dollars it'll be useless just bring your debit card for the ATM, if you book an ecolodge online for weekend away in Iquitos you will get scammed, it can be really beneficial for your sanity to pay extra for a nicer hotel or airbnb, bring extra headphones because so many got broken or lost over the course of the semester and they're not easy to replace, the SAM has lots of medicine so unless you want to bring a personal ibuprofen bottle you do not need to bring a ton of medicine with you, don't bring the DEET lotion you'll never use it...just bring a spray-on bottle of bug spray, bring an eye mask and ear buds since it gets loud at night, do not bring an umbrella it'll be a waste of suitcase space you're going to get wet get over it, just buy your rubber boots in Iquitos don't try to bring your own pair, bring insoles for the rubber boots, bring a smaller draw-string bag so you can use that when you don't want a big backpack, don't be afraid to use the projector and start watching movies with all of your new friends, cards games are great, bring your favorite board game with you if you can fit it in with your luggage, staff are responsive to needs and wants so all you need to do is talk to them if you have a request or issue

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.