Discovering Guatemala through Classes, Exploration, and Experience Past Review

By (Art Education and Art History, Massachusetts College of Art) for

University of Texas at Austin: Antigua - Study Abroad in Guatemala at Casa Herrera

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Absolutely! This program has led me to apply to UT Austin for Grad school, and I hope to one day live in Guatemala! I had an amazing time, and learned so much I am still processing it all! I also met some of the greatest people and had some of the greatest experiences of my life!

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 university classes were wonderful and the teaching methods worked really well for me. The Spanish class was designed for full immersion which didn't work for me, since my university classes were everyday and in English.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The director of Casa Herrera is an amazing person who is extremely capable and understanding. I felt very comfortable with the accessibility of the director and of the facility, though the facility should be available to students later in the day and on weekends. The size of the classes were perfect, and all of my expectations (except weekend accessibility) were met.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had to switch home stays in the middle of the program. The first home stay was OK, until I started to get sick due to too much corn in my diet, after which it got very uncomfortable very quickly. My second home stay was lovely. My host had several rooms available to volunteers and travelers to Antigua. I met several international people and made many friends. I was provided with three meals a day 6 days a week, and the room I stayed in was clean and comfortable; sheets and blankets were cleaned for me once a week.

* Food:

You can't drink the tap water in Guatemala. I would suggest not brushing teeth with it either. The food was fresh and delicious, though extreme diet change can make you sick; I was eating too much corn and got sick because of it. Anywhere in Antigua is a good place to eat (Except street food!!) but I highly suggest being adventurous and trying restaurants which specialize in Guatemalan foods, rather than sticking to tourist restaurants.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We were in Guatemala for Dia de los Muertos, and in Guatemala (Santiago Sacatepéquez to be exact) there is a giant celebration with huge kites and hundreds of people. We went as a class to the celebration and had a wonderful and informative experience!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Antigua is a bubble of safety. I felt very secure in the city, though there are some safety issues that travelers should be aware of if they are traveling around Guatemala. The hospitals and doctor care are very good through this program; I got sick and received excellent care.

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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

I practiced Spanish with the other students and my host family, as well as the director of the Casa Herrera program. The language classes I took did not work for me as they were designed for full immersion and I could not do that do to the university classes which were in English.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • International Students
  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Field Trips
  • Volunteer Opportunities
  • University Classes
* What could be improved?
  • Facility hours
  • Travel Restrictions
  • Spanish classes (for beginners)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you are interested in Mesoamerican studies, language, politics, religion, anthropology, art, volunteering, or just want to have a new and exciting experience, while learning and growing, this is the trip for you!!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Archaeology of Guatemala

Course Department:
Instructor: David Stuart
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was a history of archaeology course centered on Mesoamerica focusing on Guatemala. Our professor has first hand knowledge of the history in this country and was extremely able to make the history come alive. We did several field trips: to the archaeology museum, to ruin sites, and to Honduras for two days.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

History of Guatemala

Course Department:
Instructor: Virginia Burnett
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This was a wonderful course covering the history of Guatemala from before it was its own country up till the present day. I now know the history of Guatemala better than I know the history of the US. We used the libraries in Antigua for research in this class which was a real treat. We also did a few field trips around Antigua and in Guatemala City, all of which were learning experiences and extremely relevant to the course itself.
Credit Transfer Issues: So far there are no big issues other than the fact that I have not received any grade information nor transfer information.
Course Name/Rating:


Course Department:
Instructor: David Stuart
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was an amazing in depth study of the structure of ancient Mayan written language. As an artist who focuses on Maya imagery for her art work, this class was spectacular for me. Prof. David Stuart is the top of the field when it comes to Mayan hieroglyphics, so he is completely up-to-date on all the translations of glyphs and is even the person who did the translations for the majority of the pieces looked at during the course.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Religion of Guatemala

Course Department:
Instructor: Virginia Burnett
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course is an in depth look at the history of religious practice in Guatemala and an observation of modern religion. This course complimented the history of Guatemala course and filled in the necessary religious aspects of Guatemala's history. We did several field trips for this course to many churches and Maya religious sites, which gave us first hand experience with the religious practices of the country.
Credit Transfer Issues: