An incredible 5 months, but not where I belong Past Review

By (The College of William and Mary) - abroad from 02/15/2012 to 07/15/2012 with

William & Mary: La Plata - Universidad Nacional de La Plata

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was definitely worthwhile. I think I was expecting to find my niche here, and instead what I realized was that it's not the place for me, and it kind of affirmed for me that I do want to go back to the Middle East, where as before I came, I wasn't sure which region I was more drawn to. I think I've learned a lot about the importance of family and friends from the Argentine culture, and the whole experience, while difficult at times, has made me a stronger person. I think it was a more authentic living abroad experience than a lot of programs since we weren't given much of a structure or a whole lot of guidance, and that was extremely valuable if I ever decide to live abroad again.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Universidad Nacional de La Plata La Comision Provincial por la Memoria
How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I expected the academics to be more rigorous, but it really depends how many classes at the university you decide to take. It can be as rigorous or not as you choose. I wish that the work load had been more spread out, as we had almost no work towards the beginning and had to do all of our final projects the last month.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

It's very nice getting to know on a really personal level our program administrators here, and they work really hard to make sure our lives here are running smoothly. This semester it was harder for them I think because of logistics involved with the Commission, since they were in the building of moving to a new building and were still pretty disorganized. Sometimes there were some issues with follow through after expressing concerns or asking questions we had, but overall they were great. I do think the program could have been organized a little better towards the beginning of the semester .

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The host family was my favorite part of this entire experience! All the host families are welcoming and really make you part of the family. I know I'll stay in touch with my host family for a really long time, and I know if I ever came back, I would have a place to stay. It was also a huge help with immersion and having to speak Spanish, and I learned a ton from my little host brother and sister.

* Food:

I personally didn't do very well with the diet, but it we were always well fed, it was just that the amount of meat and fats combined with a lack of vegetables that is inherent to the Argentine diet was not great for me. I think it would definitely be helpful for students to know more about the diet before coming.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

After four months and with another month to go, I feel like I've gotten to know the city and Argentine culture really well, mostly because of my host family. Even though I've had an incredible time and really enjoyed myself, I personally realized that the culture here, while really interesting and inviting, is not where I fit in, but I would say the majority of the students feel like they've really found their niche here.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Not that we had a lot of health issues to deal with, but my host mom took incredible care of me the one time I was really sick, and the program administrators were definitely there for us if we needed anything.

* Safety:

I felt really safe in La Plata and in Argentina in general. Obviously as long as you're smart about living in a city and traveling, there were no safety issues that I had any problems with.

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)

food is pretty expensive, but other than that things are relatively cheap, and since we lived with host families I didn't find the need to spend a whole lot of money on a regular basis.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50


* 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 were encouraged to use the language at all times, and it was easy to do without even realizing it because of the fact that we live with host families and are basically the only Americans that go to the university.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? HISP305
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? I would recommend watching Argentine movies or tv shows with subtitles to pick up colloquial phrases and get used to the accent beforehand. Watching movies in Spanish with Spanish subtitles on is also great because reading helps your listening comprehension. Once here, it's just important to keep being enthusiastic about speaking the language. It can get frustrating at points and your brain gets tired, but you just have to stay positive and remember why you're there.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
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?
  • Even though it was really challenging at times, I did come to appreciate the unstructured nature of the program because it forced us to be independent and was more like a real life living abroad situation.
  • I loved the human rights theme of the program and my internship was a great experience.
  • The host families are definitely the best part of the program!
* What could be improved?
  • I think more trips and more of the workload could be spread out throughout the semester rather than being concentrated in the last month and a half.
  • To me it kind of seemed like it was the first year they were running the program because it seemed like they hadn't learned things from past students.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? mosquito repellent!!! I've had horrible mosquito bites the entire time I've been here, even now in the winter, and it probably could have been avoided with some deet repellent, which I can't seem to find here. I also wish we had had more of a general schedule of when things were going to happen in advance so we could have planned traveling better and cheaper.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Derechos Indigenas

Course Department:
Instructor: Gisela Jaure
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: It challenged our views on everything we talked about in the class. Gisela was extremely engaging, and I felt like I got more out of it than any of the other classes we took. She really took advantage of our small group size and promoted the engagement of every single person every single class.
Credit Transfer Issues: No, because it was a william and Mary program, we had no trouble transferring credits.