A great program for cultural immersion Past Review

By (Biology & HSSP, none) - abroad from 06/18/2014 to 08/13/2014 with

ThinkImpact: Panama Institute for Health or Social Innovation

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Communicating on foreign languages, leadership skills, & experience in social entrepreneurship. Experiencing another culture is always worthwhile, and the skills you gain are applicable to a variety of fields.

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 lack of rigid structure to the program was helpful in allowing students to work at their own pace, but during the first (immerse) phase of the program it would have been helpful to have more guidance from either texts or program leaders. The course handbook provided by the program was not particularly relevant to the program and was rarely used, and the pre-departure reading was not useful.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The in-country staff was very knowledgeable and helpful to students in adjusting to the country during the time abroad. In general, they handled issues that arose during the program very well.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The living arrangement was clean and much more comfortable than I expected.

* Food:

I appreciated that the food was mostly home-cooked, but there appeared to be some confusion between host families and the program over the purchase of food for students.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The program clearly emphasized immersion within the local culture. The general availability of translators was really helpful to the process of integration.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Program leaders responded well to emergency situations among students, but the lack of infrastructure and poor healthcare facilities in the local area were major roadblocks to receiving appropriate care.

* Safety:

Safety within the community was never a major concern, and the staff was available to respond to any emergency situations

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)

Spending in the community was not an issue, but the optional excursions (while they were fun) were not worth the price tag.


* 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

8 weeks wasn't enough time for a drastic change in speaking ability, but I did notice improvement in my use of the language. I became much more confident speaking to native speakers.

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? 10+

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Experiencing local culture
  • Immersion in the language
  • Relationships formed with local people and students
* What could be improved?
  • Curriculum structure
  • Pre-departure information/coordination
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew how important it was to network within the community before starting the project, and I wish I knew more about approaching issues in collaboration due to cultural differences

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.