Baja: An Experience Only One Could Ever Dream of Being Able to Have Past Review

By (Environmental Science, Allegheny College) for

The School for Field Studies / SFS: Turks and Caicos Islands - Marine Resource Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The amount I gained from this experience surpassed my expectations by far. I became a more confident student and as student of the sciences I gained a lot of hands on field experience. I was able to learn about the local community's ideas and understanding of environmental topics which was really eye-opening. Being in a different country also really made me think about the little details of conducting research and interviews and how the audience will receive you. After this experience I feel more comfortable with my interest in working abroad in the future and hope to continue in a path of sustainable urban development.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

We had quite a bit of work to complete but everything we read and wrote only enhanced our experience so it was interesting and manageable. We had sections of the course taught by a core of four teachers and everyone kept the class interactive and interesting. There was not a log of differences in the educational system because of the general sameness in conducting scientific research.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

We had a lot of support and help if anything was ever needed. The group that was there when I went was a small sized class that made it easy for everyone to be involved and no one to get left behind. About two-thirds of the group was American students so we helped share information about how similar topics were discussed in the US if the opportunity came up and vice versa, the Mexican students were able to share with the American students what typical lessons and programs were like for them.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We were in a gated compound that had a night guard and everyone from the town was very respectful of our campus, therefore there was never a real safety issue. We also were all sure that if we went into town we followed curfew and went with a buddy so that no one was alone. Our housing were little bungalow type units where three students stayed in each one. They were very comfortable and easy to adjust to living in. Our beds were lofted and a desk and shelves were underneath. If anyone forgot anything the center more than likely had extra supplies you could use. All the housing was in the center and so was our classroom and dining. Most of our class time was spent out in the field. Everyone that lived at the center treated us all like family and really took the time to get to know each and everyone of us.

* Food:

We had a few food restrictions that were very serious and the cooks adjusted well to these. There was always plenty of food at every meal and all food was home-cooked traditional style and delicious! There was always snacks too for when we would be hungry later at night of during the afternoon after a long day in the field. We didn't eat in town much due to the danger of eating unsanitary foods or tampering with the water that would most likely make us sick, and since everything at the center was clean, sterile, and safe for consumption we didn't feel the need to venture out much except for maybe ice cream!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We were able to attend Zumba classes in town that were so much fun and the locals loved having us there! We were able to take trips to the sand dunes, go kayaking, or go snorkeling on our day off which was really neat. Also, we would go out to the local discoteca in town once a week and got to goof off and have fun with everyone which we always looked forward to. We could also have bonfires on the beach which was fun and everyone enjoyed the relaxation time.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

The town we were stationed in was a tiny fishing town so there was no real threats to safety. If anyone was to ever need medical assistance there was a local place that was easily accessible and another larger facility about forty minutes away. No vaccines were needed specifically for this program. The faculty were well equipped and knowledgable for helping aid minor medical situations such as stingray or scorpion stings.

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)


If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • I had a lot of hands on experience in the field.
  • I was surrounded by people that were all interested and eager to learn about the topics we were studying.
  • I learned a lot about another culture by being surrounded by it.
* What could be improved?
  • Warmer water in the showers!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Unfortunately my session was the last to be held at our center in Baja. However, if any student is considering a study abroad experience definitely find something where the focus will be something you're very interested in because you will pretty much eat, breath, and live that topic. Being able to study abroad was always in the back of my mind and this opportunity was incredible!