A great socio-cultural experience with a lot of fun adventures. Past Review

By (Brown University) - abroad from 06/18/2015 to 08/18/2015 with

ThinkImpact: Panama Institute for Health or Social Innovation

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
There were definitely a lot of ups and downs. It was difficult transitioning to a completely different culture, life style and language for the entire time we were there. However, ultimately, it was worth it because I did learn a lot about myself and the Panamanian culture. I also got to improve my Spanish a lot more than I expected. I have more confidence speaking the language with locals. There are always problematic aspects about bringing a group of foreigners with a certain goal into a country and disrupting the harmony. However, this dynamic and it's issues are common with a lot of other programs and institutions abroad. Therefore, I think that despite some of the struggles we had, it was a great program overall.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

We were provided with a booklet to use and were given some lessons during our time in the city before heading to the town where we would live.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* 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)


* 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

We were definitely encouraged to use our Spanish language skills at all times. We even had lessons with the local interpreters/translators that were hired to help us. So, that was very helpful. However, this was more helpful for the participants who had already had foundations lessons in Spanish before. Otherwise, those of us with no background in the language at all were at a huge disadvantage. I think a language requirement might be very helpful for this program.

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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Two Semesters of College Level Spanish
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Don't hesitate to speak with the locals. Embrace the opportunity you have to live in a place where the language is spoken by everyone. Most importantly, always remember to laugh at yourself and don't take yourself too seriously because you will always make mistakes and it's better to have a good attitude about it.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • Host Family
* 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?
  • The freedom and flexibility of the timeline
  • The host family program
  • The excursions
* What could be improved?
  • Have a language requirement
  • More dialogue about issues like the "White Savior Mentality"
  • Distinctions between what the community wants, needs and what we are imposing
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I think it would be helpful to know how hard it would be to keep in touch after the program and that would have helped me in some of the interactions I had with the local people.