one of the best experiences I've had in my life Past Review

By (Middlebury College) - abroad from 09/09/2016 to 12/16/2016 with

University of Johannesburg: Johannesburg - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
-I significantly expanded my African network at ALU by connecting with students, professors, and entrepreneurs from all over the Continent. -I got to practice my French by speaking to Mauritian citizens every day. - I conducted research in political science and gained valuable insights about the quality of Mauritian democracy, ranked the strongest in Africa.

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.

ALU was very different from my education at Middlebury. If anything, it is more similar to what is taught at MiddCORE than "liberal arts". The only difference between MiddCORE and ALU is its Africa-centric curriculum. ALU's experiential learning model definitely complemented my liberal arts education at Middlebury because it showed me how theories can be applied and relevant in the real-world. By 2050, 1 in 4 people globally will come from Africa; and yet about 40% of African university graduates will be unemployed because they lack the necessary skills to thrive in the workforce. ALU's model is thus necessary for young Africans to be more efficacious in poverty-alleviation efforts on the Continent.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in a dorm with another student. All rooms were air-conditioned and had a private bathroom. This was very convenient, especially when compared with dormitories at Middlebury.

* Food:

In comparison to Middlebury, I really enjoyed the food. It had more flavor/spices and African dishes. However, there weren't as many vegetarian options.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

As a former UWC Costa Rica student, I felt very at home and welcome at ALU because of its diversity. This institution brought together students from over 35 African nations. Moreover, the multiculturalism of Mauritius complemented the diversity at ALU. Explicitly, Mauritius is made up of Indian, French, Chinese, and African descendants--a true "rainbow nation". Consequently, the official language of Mauritius is English, the press and televisions are predominantly in French, but the lingua franca that unites all is Kreol. It was a magical experience to study abroad in such a multicultural environment.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Mauritius has one of the best healthcare systems in Africa. ALU made sure that all students, including myself, had the necessary health insurance, STD tests, and blood tests, before entering the country--this is required by law in Mauritius. At ALU, all the necessary health facilities were present.

* Safety:

Mauritius has one of the lowest crime rates in Africa. It was very easy and safe to walk off-campus at night. I once dropped my wallet in a night club and was able to retrieve it at the bar counter with everything still intact; a stranger had seen it, picked it up, and turned it in. I can confidently say that this would never happen in many other African countries like Ghana, my home. I believe this experience attests to the social trust among Mauritian citizens.

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

I decided to go to ALU because I was not satisfied with Middlebury's other programs abroad. As an African studies minor, I wanted to pursue opportunities in Africa but did not hear positive things about the Middlebury's program in Cameroon. Moreover, since I already have considerable experience in West Africa as a Ghanaian, I wanted to visit a new place. I was drawn to ALU, firstly, because it is a pan-African institution with students from all over the Continent; secondly, its unique experiential learning model was revolutionary. Lastly, and most importantly, I wanted to tap into ALU's powerful network. For example, I had the privilege of meeting and interacting with the President of Mauritius, the former finance minister of Nigeria, and several African billionaires during my three short months at ALU--not even Middlebury has that many high-profile visits in such a short period of time. If I had a choice, I would study abroad at ALU for a year, as opposed to a semester. The university has proven to me that it is serious about transforming Africa and I felt honored to be the first study abroad student from Middlebury College. I currently have a job in Tokyo working for a scholarship-providing NGO (Ashinaga) looking to expand into Sub-Saharan Africa because of ALU's careers and internships office. I wouldn't trade that for anything else. ALU is a must for anyone serious about pursuing a career related to Africa.


* 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)

4. One can live very comfortably with about $60/week

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 2000 Mauritian ruppees ($57.47)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
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?
  • Student diversity
  • Location (5 mins from beach)
  • ALU's vision (create the next generation of entrepreneurial and ethical African leaders)
* What could be improved?
  • Organizational efficiency
  • Punctuality
  • Food (more variety)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew more about the courses offered at ALU. The course descriptions did not really explicate what will be taught and how it would be taught.

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 Networker
An active student leader, it was important for you to network abroad as well. Once overseas, you sought out student clubs, volunteered with local organizations, or attended community events. You encouraged your friends join you, and often considered how you could reflect your international experiences in a resume.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Data and Decision

Course Department:
Instructor: Wilhelmina Zwennes
Instruction Language: English
Comments: In this course I learned a great deal about data visualization and analysis. It was challenging to me because I had no previous knowledge of excel (pivot tables, v-look,). I found it very useful because I learned how to analyze data within the African context. This complemented my Economic Statistics class at Middlebury.
Credit Transfer Issues: No credit transfer because the course was not considered "liberal arts" enough.
Course Name/Rating:

Entrepreneurial Leadership

Course Department:
Instructor: Katleho Mohono
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was very mentally challenging because I had to re-wire my brain about identifying and solving problems. I learned about entrepreneurial thinking, human-centered design, problem statement writing, and prototyping--all the skills necessary to be a successful entrepreneur. In our final project, we had to identify a problem within our local community and provide a tested solution for it. At the end of the semester, we pitched our an idea of how to improve meal satisfaction (from an average score of 4/10 to 6/10) among ALU students by December 2016 to a group of successful Mauritian entrepreneurs. Given the experiential learning model of ALU, I significantly participated more in this course than in a normal Middlebury class.
Credit Transfer Issues: No credit transfer
Course Name/Rating:


Course Department:
Instructor: Hana Shashaa
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This was my favorite course at ALU. Projects gave me the opportunity to work with actual companies in Africa and apply skills/theories from Middlebury, MiddCORE, and my other ALU course in real life. I worked on each project with three other classmates. In my first project, I worked with JCDecaux, a global outdoor advertising firm, on how to expand into two prospective African cities (Abidjan and Kigali) by identifying untapped advertising opportunities. In my second project, I worked with One Acre Fund, a global agricultural NGO, to identify which of 8 prospective countries the NGO should expand into. In both projects, we were assessed on the quality of our final deliverable to the representatives of the organizations, conducted in the form of a Google Hangout presentation. I truly appreciated this course because it made me more cognizant of the challenges faced by African companies today. For example, how is one to conduct research in the absence of reliable data online about small-holder farmers in Burkina Faso? Answer: Relying more on human resources and networks through cold-calling, interviewing, etc. to get data.
Credit Transfer Issues: No credit transfer because it was not "liberal arts"