I can not imagine growing more as a person over six months. Past Review

By (University of Chicago) - abroad from 09/14/2019 to 03/28/2020 with

Thinking Beyond Borders: Traveling - Global Gap Year

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to ask why, how to be a critical thinker, and how to prioritize my own happiness.

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 had seminars typically twice a week in which there would be assigned reading before each seminar. The classes were engaging, diverse in their topics, and educational. Every program leader for Thinking Beyond Boarders must have a masters degree, and my two program leaders pushed my thinking every seminar.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

We lived in three countries primarily for the six months we were abroad, and each one had great program coordinators who scheduled fun activities and communicated with our host-families.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The living arrangements were everything they needed to be. I always knew I would have a roof over my head and felt safe in the homes I lived in.

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The program did an amazing job giving us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in each culture we were a part of. I cannot think of anything they could have done better. I felt welcomed by each community we were a part of.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Both of my program leaders were WFR certified, and they addressed each medical issue very well throughout our six months together. Before the program started we needed to go to a travel clinic and get vaccines, and the program website was very helpful in explaining what vaccines/meds are recommended for the trip.

* Safety:

Each community we lived in felt quite safe. We had rules within the program to have our phones on us at all times, and to not walk around aimlessly at night. There were only a couple times I felt slightly unsafe at night walking around, but nothing out of the ordinary.

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

The Global Gap Year from Thinking Beyond Boarders was one of the best things I have ever done. It allowed me to grow as a person, broadened my perspective, taught me new skills, gave me lifelong friendships, and connected me to some amazing people and cultures.


* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 30 dollars
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? It's easy to go big when you first encounter a modern mall, but I recommend being patient!


* 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 took classes in each country we lived in learning the local language. I went into the program speaking some Spanish, but left a much better speaker because of the practice I did with my host family.

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? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? AP 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? I would not worry about doing the program if you do not speak a foreign language. The classes are very informative, and every family is prepared to have students who do not speak their native tongue.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Other
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 connections I made with other students
  • Immersing myself in other cultures
  • Learning about global issues
* What could be improved?
  • Transparency between what the students are told and what parents are told.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? On average you receive around an hour to two hours of tech-time per week to talk to your family or go on social media.

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'