Great Experience in Las Delicias, Panama! Past Review

By (Engineering Management, Johns Hopkins University) - abroad from 01/07/2015 to 01/23/2015 with

ThinkImpact: Panama Institute for Health or Social Innovation

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I really learned to appreciate the things I have in my life in America. The trip, for that reason alone, was worthwhile.

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

We always felt like the administration was there when we needed help. They also kept our spirits high at the end of a long day.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The program literature does a poor job at describing the housing situation. From the readings, I thought I was going to be staying in a small hut in the middle of no where with no access to water or electricity for days at a time. This was in no way the case. The house was very nice, my roommate and I each had our own beds, there was electricity everyday and water almost everyday. The living situation was much much better than I had expected.

* Food:

I am not a picky eater so I really enjoyed all of the food. Try everything they cook for you, one night we tried cow heart, a delicacy in the area, and it was absolutely delicious.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Everyone was incredibly welcoming and everyday we went to someone else's farm (farming was the main source of income for almost every community member) and they were always very excited to show us their farm and what they grew.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

There were no real incidents on our journey, other than a few minor cuts and bruises, but I always felt a more serious incident would have been taken care of immediately had they arisen. In order to travel to the area, my doctors in the states suggested I receive Hep A and Typhoid vaccines as well as take anti-malaria medicine even though the risk in the region we were staying was low. Better to be precocious.

* Safety:

While in the commuinty I felt incredibly safe. I got the impression there had never been a crime committed ever. That is probably due to the fact that almost everyone in our community was related. While in Panama City there were times I was on guard. The city does seem somewhat sketchy especially for a female. The best thing to do is always travel in groups and avoid going out after dark if possible.

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)

While in the community, I probably spent less than $10 the entire time (12 days). There are not man places to spend money other than the community store and everything there is surprisingly cheap. In Panama city or the nearby market in Penonome, you only have to spend money on things/souvenirs that you want.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Throughout the entire 17 day trip, I probably spent about $30 on food.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Remember to haggle in the markets, other than that there is little that you need to spend money on.


* 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

Our host families spoke little to no English so we had to try to speak Spanish whenever we were at our host homes.

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
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Four years of High School Spanish
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Download a translating app that does not require internet. It was very helpful to those in the group who had never spoken Spanish and wanted to have meaningful conversations with their host families.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
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?
  • The warm weather was nice.
  • The community members were very welcoming, and the children were always polite.
  • I was able to bond with other students from my University masters program that also attended the trip.
* What could be improved?
  • Since not all of us spoke the language, it would have been nice if the translators were around more.
  • It would have been nice to know more about the program before we left. I had little idea what to expect and the information I was given gave me the wrong impression of the program and host families.
  • Since there is no internet communitcation, this proved to be difficult for worrying parents. It would be nice if there was a scheduled half day trip to Penonome, where the administrators had to go anyway to check in with headquarters, so that the students could check in with their parents.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The community and host homes are not in anyway as bad as the program literature made them sound. I would have packed very differently had I known how the real living situations would be.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!