Amazing and Challenging Culturally Diverse Experience November 21, 2016

By (Columbia University) - abroad from 08/19/2015 to 05/24/2016 with

Winterline: Global Skills Program, Gap Year

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained an intense understanding of different cultures and managing my self in different situation as well as working with many different types of people. It was an intense maturing experience.

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.

Very rigorous, but amazing growth of maturity with access to programs that tested us constantly.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Great care for the students and organization with the on-site administration.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Less and more challenging living arrangements that helped us adapt and become more comfortable with uncomfortable situations.

* Food:

Great incorporation and access to different cultural foods and understanding them. For people who were taller and ate more, food could have been more accessible.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Best portion of the trip. Great integration to local cultures and programs that helped us really understand different communities.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

There were health issues with many students understanding that we were in many different portions of the world with different health standards, but the on-site team was very responsive to helping students.

* Safety:

Good safety while respecting the bounds of us being adults.

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

No question. Best program out there.

Finances

* 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)

We were able to live on the budget provided by the program, but the people who could have eaten more, could have used a larger budget.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 15 dollars on food.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Make sure to create a budget (using excel) to monitor your spending and organize a folder to make sure you are spending properly and keeping track of your expenses.

Language

* 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

They encouraged us, but never pressured us to use it too much.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
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? I am fluent in French, Polish, and English, but the highest level was AB Initio Spanish on the IB
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? Make sure to push yourself to incorporate the language. The only way to make sure to learn a language is by your own initiative and determination.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Host Family
  • Apartment
  • Hotel
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Host Family
* 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?
  • Cultures
  • Communication with locals and the group
  • Challenge
* What could be improved?
  • More Food
  • Communication from off-site administration
  • Transport
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Nothing. I appreciated no expectations coming into the trip and feel that it is best not to expect certain things.