Best decision I ever made Past Review

By (Pennsylvania State University - Berks) - abroad from 09/09/2018 to 03/16/2019 with

Thinking Beyond Borders: Traveling - Global Gap Year

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
One of the biggest things I learned was to always be on the learning curve. Always be willing to learn something new or try something new, because it'll expand your horizons and ultimately make you a more well-rounded person.

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.

The program provided its students with countless academic resources from kindles to books to printed articles and more.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Each host country did a great job at making us feel safe and welcome at their homebase. They were very kind to us and were a great resource for us for homestay, language and general country questions.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was very satisfied with my living arrangements. I felt as though I got a true taste of each culture for every country I stayed in. I was always very well taken care of by my host family and all of my needs were always met and beyond.

* Food:

The food was incredible. In each country, I was given the opportunity to really broaden my horizons and try all sorts of foods I never expected to try. I came home much more of a willing eating, always ready to try out a new restaurant or style of food.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

In each country, I left feeling moderately integrated with the local culture. I had been in it long enough to be able to pick up on language, see familiar faces around town, and became more and more comfortable each day.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Health mentally and physically is of the utmost importance in this program. Leaders are constantly checking in on students health and make students feel comfortable to be open about anything going on. If anything serious ever arises, there are always medical clinics and quick options to take care of the issues at hand. In Guatemala, every single one of us got very sick but after a quick stool sample, we were put on medication and recovered in days.

* Safety:

For being in the countries we were in, I learned to feel safe in each one. Of course I felt more safe in some places, but overall, safety was very important and traveling in groups became a norm.

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

I would choose Thinking Beyond Borders again in a heartbeat! It was easily the best decision I ever made and it really pushed me to be a better, more educated version of myself. I came into college with such learned confidence and that was all because of TBB!


* 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)

It was tricky for sure but over time, I learned how to manage better. Looking back, multiple ATM charges in each country was one of the big things that I would do differently.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? It depended on the week and country. I spent almost nothing in Ghana and Guatemala, but spent more in Thailand, due to stores and opportunities available.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? 1. Take out one set amount of money for each country in the beginning, to avoid lots of ATM charges because they add up!!! 2. Keep a very close eye on your bank account 3. Let your bank know ahead of time that you'll be away. Tell them each specific country and the time you'll be there so you don't get stuck without money


* 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

It was always encouraged, although was most hard to learn and repeat in Thailand and Ghana.

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? Spanish 4 Honors
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? 1. Talk to your host parents. Even if there's a language barrier, it'll mean alot to them that you're trying to learn their language

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • 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? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The leaders!!!! <3
  • The curriculum
  • The incredible people I met
* What could be improved?
  • Equality with tech policy
  • location in Ghana
  • more time to debrief in Virginia after program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? For me, I wish I knew how important it would be to keep track of my money and bank accounts.

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.