Challenging yet rewarding Past Review

By (Wheaton College, MA) - abroad from 07/27/0017 to 12/04/0017 with

Wheaton College: Thimphu - Wheaton in Bhutan

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was very worthwhile in the life skills I learned and the things I learned about myself during the trip. I think the point of a study abroad is to be exposed to new ideas and ways of life and this trip was full of that.

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 classes with the Wheaton faculty member include a rigorous amount of reading and writing, while the classes taken at Royal Thimphu College are less challenging.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

RTC and the international office does everything they can to make sure we are comfortable and doing well at the college. The international relations office is very good about addressing students concerns.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We live in dorms much like in the US with a room mate. The rooms are spacious and there are bathrooms on each floor and a common room in each building.

* Food:

The food in Bhutan is amazing. In town there are countless good restaurants, but the food at the college is not the best.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

One of the best aspects of this study abroad is how immersed in a completely different culture you are. This immersion is through learning the language, living with Bhutanese roommates, attending festivals, and learning about the culture through reading and discussing in a class led by a Wheaton faculty member.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Healthcare is free in Bhutan so when people have issues they can go to the hospitals and be treated. I did not get any vaccines other than being up to date on flu shots and tetnis shots along with typhoid medication before coming. Some people got rabies shots, this may be smart since there are many stray dogs, but not completely necessary.

* Safety:

The city and campus are very safe. I felt comfortable walking around the city alone and the campus alone. The only safety issue is that there are dogs on campus that live at the college and they will sometimes chase and snap at people. For this reason, I am cautious walking around the college at night.

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

I found this trip to be difficult in so many ways like hand washing clothes and eating food that I'm not used to and being immersed in a culture so different that its often uncomfortable. However, I also learned so much. I think if I had done a study abroad in a country that wasn't so radically different from my own I would not have learned as much about acceptance of different ways of thinking or other cultures and how to adjust to them. I also would not have learned as much about myself and how I act in challenging situations. Because of these reasons, I think this study abroad is the best one to do.


* 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)

In the four months I have been here I have spent 100$ per month including eating out multiple times a week and buying souvenirs. The exchange rate for American dollars is 65 nultrum to 1$ so that makes it very inexpensive.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 25$
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Buying souvenirs from people on the street at tourist attractions instead of it stores is much less expensive.


* 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 learn Dzongkha here, but only conversationally.

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? I had completed years of other languages, but no dzongkha.
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? Practice a little everyday or try to listen in town or when friends are talking to see if you hear any words you understand.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • Excursion trips to different places in Bhutan
  • Contemporary Bhutanese Society class
  • Hiking
* What could be improved?
  • Food at mess hall
  • Aggressive Dogs
  • communication about dates and time for flights and schedules
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew more about what to pack. Bhutan is not as traditional as it used to be so brining more modern normal clothes would have been helpful.

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.