An educational adventure Past Review

By (International Relations And Global Studies, Middlebury College) - abroad from 02/02/2014 to 05/17/2014 with

USAC India: Bengaluru – Culture, Society, and Global Perspectives

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Absolutely worthwhile. I learned to be self-sufficient, open-minded and how to travel.

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.

I gave the academics a 4 because I felt they were at a lower level than my college in the US; that being said the teaching university style are very different. It depends on the courses you take, of course, but generally the classes were much more broad, fact-based, with work that involved repetition or recitation, rather than work that involved critical, profound, or independent analysis. Internet access was a big challenge seeing as the computers at school were very slow and fast, reliable WiFi is hard to come by in India. Class quality definitely depended on the teacher.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

While I liked studying abroad in Bangalore, India, nearly everything USAC facilitated was unorganized, illogical, last minute, or unprofessional. I really did not feel like my program provided much support, or addressed needs I had while I was there. Issues such as class schedule, apartment needs, rules, orientation, service learning, or mere responding to emails, came up all the time and were extremely frustrating for the whole group.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We had big apartments in a good location with minimal furniture but we were extremely overcharged; probably paid 5x more than they were worth in India. NO AC, and SLOW WIFI was a huge problem. The program was very slow at responding to requests for fixing fans, lights, tables. When my room mate and I arrived the place was messy with the last group's garbage, dirty, we had no curtains the washer was broken and not fixed until 3 months in and there were 2 broken desks that did not get removed from our apartment for the course of 4 months.

* Food:

Not facilitated by USAC but Indian food is delicious and extremely cheap. There is a wonderful restaurant and many great food stalls right next to Christ College, the school I went to, as well as lots to eat all over the city and in the school cafeteria.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt integrated with the local culture because Indians were very friendly and welcoming, and members of my group and I worked on putting ourselves out there. However, USAC makes it seem like foreign students are directly enrolled in the Indian University, but we are taught by Christ University professors in separate, small classes with strictly people on our program and it is very hard to coordinate visiting another class or seminar at the University. This set up was pretty isolating and did not provide the experience of studying at a typical Indian university.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

India will challenge your immune system for sure, but the city of Bangalore has many of the medications, hospitals and comforts you need to take care of anything that occurs. USAC required and recommended certain vaccines, but I can't say they were very attentive to our group's health issues.

* Safety:

You have to be street smart and careful as you do in any city. As a woman you have to be even more so and dress conservatively because the culture is not as liberal as in the United States. Harassment by males was an issue for girls on my program, but on the whole Bangalore is a relatively progressive and safe city compared to the rest of India. I do not consider this a reason to deter someone from studying abroad in India, just something to be aware of and prepared for.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* 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)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? i spent very little on food/daily needs but more on traveling because there was so much to see in India


* 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

not the program, just in class

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? none
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? It's hard to practice Hindi because most of the people who speak it are educated which means that they are also proficient in English. Others vendors, rickshaw drivers etc. speak their local dialects which are numerous and complicated.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • Bangalore
  • traveling
  • food
* What could be improved?
  • USAC organization
  • listening to students issues
  • apartments
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That we were not directly enrolled in Christ University.

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.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Buddhism and Hinduism in Contemporary Society

Course Department: Religion/Philosophy
Instructor: Sudha Gopinath, and Githa Badikillaya
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The concepts were very challenging and hard to grasp but very interesting. We visited a few temples and met with swamis, but religion is so integrated into society that the class really enlightened everyday experiences, festivals, architecture and much more in India. The class was very lecture based, teachers were prepared but often repetitive. We were assessed by many papers, and 3 exams.
Credit Transfer Issues: unknown
Course Name/Rating:

Introduction to Hindi

Course Department: Language
Instructor: Soumiya Ja Tla
Instruction Language: Hindi/English
Comments: This class was not very challenging, and pretty rushed. We were assessed by participation in class and a final written and spoken exam, but did not do very much Hindi conversation in class unfortunately. The class was mainly focused on vocabulary words, and the teacher got off on irrelevant tangents very easily.
Credit Transfer Issues: unknown
Course Name/Rating:

Contemporary Political and Economic Issues in South East Asia

Course Department: Politics
Instructor: PPR Nair, and Aindrila Chakraborty
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class definitely gravitated more towards politics than economics. The teachers were extremely knowledgable which was the best part of the class; one was a history wiz with a wonderful gift for explaining complicated events or patterns, and the other was a retired established political advisor with a lot of personal experience and great stories. We were assessed by many small papers, some on topics of our choosing which we presented, and 2 large exams.
Credit Transfer Issues: unknown
Course Name/Rating:

Bollywood Cinema

Course Department: Film
Instructor: Chiara Ferrari
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Bollywood Cinema was not only fun to take because it is such a prevalent part of Indian pop-culture, but also provided incredible insightful to the social dynamics and politics of the country. We went on a field trip to the movies, got to meet and discuss a newly released film with a local director, and watched many movies in class. One of the best aspects of the class was the final project where we created a documentary out of research and interviews on a topic of our choice. The teacher was well prepared with power points and example clips. We were assessed on discussion participation, and papers.
Credit Transfer Issues: unknown
Course Name/Rating:

Service Learning

Course Department: unknown
Instructor: Vinay KC
Instruction Language: English
Comments: I give this class 5 stars because I loved being able to get credit for volunteering and experience at a non-profit or internship was invaluable to my time in India. However, most of my positive comments came from experiences outside of the classroom, the in class hours for service learning felt very childish, unorganized and unhelpful. We visited a village for the class which was great and very educational. We were assessed by our participation, our final presentation and our project proposal.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Social Problems Population and Poverty Field Study

Course Department: unknown
Instructor: Suparna Kar
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class required several hours of volunteering, participation in discussions and a final presentation. This class was my favorite because not only did we get amazing first hand experience in development work in India, but also the teacher was so knowledgable about very current development strategies and explained important and challenging concepts with ease. I learned so much in every class.
Credit Transfer Issues: unknown
Course Name/Rating:

Population and Poverty

Course Department: unknown
Instructor: Anuradha Bernadette
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Though this class covered important concepts, I felt I had learned everything before because the material was very rudimentary and extremely repetitive. The teacher was very hard to understand, often got off on tangents and was not direct or clear with her assignments. Many of the information we were given was a bit out dated or the statistics could have been more recent. We wrote papers, and took an exam and watched some interesting documentaries. It was honestly a very boring class and I am someone who is interested in this topic.
Credit Transfer Issues: unknown