I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. Past Review

By (Social Work., Valparaiso University) for

Universidad de las Americas - Puebla / UDLAP : Puebla - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I became even more open-minded, I got to see America from an outside point of view, and I got to experience a whole new level of independence. It opened my eyes to a vulnerable population that, as a social work major, I may consider directing my career path toward that I hadn't really considered before as it's not really prevalent in northwestern Indiana or Chicago: Indigenous peoples. And regardless of the field I end up in, I would definitely like to keep up my Spanish and use that somehow.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload was virtually nothing, but the grading scale was pretty tough, as below a 7.5 on a 10 point scale was considered failing. The teaching methods of a couple of my classes were fairly similar to a spanish class in the states, and the psych class I took was really just a lecture; the hard part of that class was the test format, as all of the tests were purely matching and thereby quite difficult. For the classes I took, I really only had a project for the community service class and hardly ever had papers. Probably my biggest reverse culture shock though was coming back to "real" school. Not to say that UDLAP isn't a "real" school, but rather that foreign students generally don't have as much work as locals, regardless of whether we're talking about UDLAP or Valpo.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Pat was absolutely fantastic in helping us get around and get settled into Mexico, and the Amigos Internacionales, a student group to help out foreigners, were great for organizing events and making sure we got the best cultural immersion experience we could.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was on campus, so I was really close to classes and whatnot, but I was just as close to nightlife elements. My roommates all had cookware that they were kind enough to let me use, though I did buy a couple of basic things for myself. I brought sheets and a pillow. As far as how I was treated, my direct roommate was great; she helped me with my Spanish and was eager for me to help her with her English, and most of the others were at least tolerant of me, but it wasn't uncommon for my food or shampoo to get stolen.

* Food:

The cafeteria was really great; you get a ton of food for about three and a half bucks. If you want to make your own food, find the market in Cholula and buy fresh meat, cheese, veggies, fruits, tortillas, etc. and it will all be delicious. You really can't go wrong with food in Mexico--just be careful of street food. Eat it, but be careful.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Teotihuacan, Veracruz, the town fair, celebrating Mexico's bicentennial, day of the dead, visiting Xaltipan, the indigenous community I worked with.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I never felt like I was in any sort of danger in Cholula. The only thing there were really issues with was petty theft, but if you were smart and didn't leave your things laying around, you were generally fine.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I think I took out about 1500 pesos every 3 weeks or so...so somewhere around $40 a week, give or take.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? nothing really coming to mind at the moment.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? FLS 220
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

I practiced the language with pretty much everyone I encountered, and it was absolutely an everyday interaction element. There were quite a few people who could speak at least a little English, but many of them wouldn't speak English unless I was really having a hard time.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

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  • Local Students
* Who did you take classes with?

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  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Go to Mexico if you really want to improve your Spanish, meet excellent people, see cool places, and eat great food.