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SIT Study Abroad

About

SIT has been providing immersive, field-based study abroad programs for undergraduates for more than 50 years. SIT offers more than 70 programs in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East, as well as comparative programs in multiple locations. In addition to its rich history, SIT Study Abroad has a number of unique qualities that make it an ideal choice for an extraordinary, transformative study abroad experience.

SIT students step beyond the boundaries of a traditional classroom to analyze critical issues shaping local communities around the globe. Students become deeply engaged in a topic and undertake their own research, case studies, in-depth practica, or community projects. SIT Study Abroad is deeply embedded in local communities around the world. Program components are designed to respect the strengths of local partners to foster enduring relationships.

Founded
1932

Scholarships

SIT Robert Kantor Memorial Scholarship

Each year one student will be granted $10,000 in scholarship aid to study abroad with a SIT program. Funded by individual donors and foundations, the requirements are tight: seeking first-generation college students who've never traveled abroad before, currently attend an HBCU, and demonstrate strong financial need.

Value
$10,000

Reviews

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Darien
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

SIT Ecuador: Development, Politics and Languages

This program is very fun and well organized. The excursions are well-planned, interesting and complement the material covered in classes. The program advisors are friendly and kind and genuinely care to help the students in the program. The program is a great mix between structured travel and chances for independent travel/experiences. The independent study aspect is a great way to gain research experience and delve into a topic that you are interested in with the support of the staff. Overall great program!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I got to eat guinea pig in Cuenca. It was good once you got over seeing its face on your plate!
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Soleil
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Incredible Field Study Program

This program is incredibly travel and outdoor-heavy. You are constantly traveling all over the country for different modules where you spend 90% of your time doing field work outside. You are never bored and always busy. The places you get to see are actual paradise and there is plenty of time to hike, explore, and swim in between class. There is also an incredible variety of subjects to learn about from birds, to coral reefs, to forest, to amphibians. The program teaches you how to use different research methods and conduct experiments, so that you can be successful in executing your own research project during the last month of the trip.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be flexible and adaptable because this program is full of surprises and much of it is set on a day to day basis. Learn to go with the flow and enjoy the moments while you are in them because your day will be filled with the most incredible things.
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Danielle
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

3 Months of Gaining Independence while Adventuring throughout Ecuador's Unique Ecosystems

I loved the experiential learning that this program offered. With a greater independence in our projects, I became a lot more confident as a student and a scientist. The academic rigor of this program made it all the more rewarding. The leaders of our program, Xavier, Ana María, and Diana, were all very knowledgeable and available whenever assistance was needed. As a part of our courses, we had the opportunity to travel all throughout Ecuador - the Andes Mountains, the Cloud Forest, the Amazon, and the Galapagos. Another irreplaceable outcome from this program was the friends for life that I made.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Snorkeling in the Galapagos with sea lions and sea turtles!
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Ella
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Unforgettable Adventure

This program was an amazing experience! We travelled to beautiful sites and learned about so many amazing plants and animals in situ. I was challenged academically and I gained a lot confidence in myself. The academic directors were very knowledgeable and experienced, and I was encouraged to ask questions about anything I was interested in. The program is divided between excursions to field sites, where most of the ecology teaching/learning takes place, and time in the city, where we took Spanish classes and had various other lectures. We were given many opportunities to practice field techniques, and the various assignments throughout the semester helped prepare me for the Independent Study Project, which was the most challenging and rewarding academic experience I've ever had.

Most of my criticisms have to due with changes that were made to the program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This included cancelling the homestay element and housing the entire group of students in a hostel in a small town that was very far from Quito. We were able to make our own fun, but there was no social scene near where we were housed. Additionally, there were very few programmed activities aside from the field excursions.

Overall, I would recommend this program to anyone who is interested in studying ecology in the field and improving their Spanish - there were ample opportunities to do both!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
We got snorkel off the boat every day we stayed on the Nemo III in the Galápagos! I had never been snorkeling, so the entire experience - wetsuits and all - was astonishing. My favorite part was getting surprised by a group of sea lions who swam up to us and played with us underwater! It was one of my very favorite parts of the entire trip!
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Alexis
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Immersive and Enriching!

My experience with “Mexico: Migration, Borders, and Transnational Communities” was invaluable to my personal, academic, and professional development. My coursework and immersion in Oaxaca, Mexico gave me the opportunity to expand and sharpen my understanding of Spanish by pushing me to engage with others in a variety of contexts using my second language. The experience furnished me with an intimate understanding of migration in and through Mexico. The program also featured opportunities to explore various aspects of Mexican culture, including the history, art, and architecture of Puebla, the lush natural resources and grand mountains in the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca, the indigenous influences and artful handicrafts in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca, and the cultural and linguistic diversity of Chiapas. These experiences brought the culture to life and allowed me to become personally acquainted with the traditions and customs of each community. Through my time in Mexico, I will be a more linguistically proficient and culturally competent student and professional capable of offering unique and vital perspectives and insights to discussions on immigration, U.S.-Mexico relations, and cultural awareness in an increasingly globalized world.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't come with expectations! Take things as they come!

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I knew I wanted to go to Peru for my semester abroad, but also for its theme and academic focus.

Indigenous people and their cultures are a topic rarely discussed in academia, even though they have made many important contributions to societies all across the globe. I wanted to learn more about indigenous groups in Peru and how they are adapting to a constantly changing world.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The SIT website had several pre-departure documents, checklists, and other prep materials available in order to help me feel more ready for my semester abroad. The program admissions counselor and alumni contact I had were both very helpful in answering all of my questions as well. The syllabi for the academic courses were also clearly outlined on the program site.

On my own, I had to put in the effort to practice my Spanish before leaving. I was also in charge of determining my own flights and how long I would stay after the program ended.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

It's okay to be nervous or anxious! Although adjusting into a new culture and language will be challenging, once you settle down into a routine the city you're in will feel like home in no time. Overcoming any personal obstacles that arise during your time abroad will make you a stronger, more confident person.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

During the week, you'll typically have classes from 8:30 AM to around 12 PM or 12:30. These classes include Spanish language, history, research ethics, and more. After class, you'll eat lunch with your host family.

You can spend your free time in the afternoon doing a number of things. You can relax and study at a cafe, go see a movie, or walk to the Plaza de Armas to do some shopping. There are lots of nice gardens and parks all around the city, too. I took dance classes (hip hop and salsa) at a local dance school, which was super fun!

On the weekends, you can spend a whole day traveling to the mountain outskirts of Cusco and go see some pretty cool sights. My favorites were the famed Rainbow Mountain and the incredible Lake Humantay. Both are great sites for doing some hiking! There are also several Incan ruins close to the city that you can visit, including Saqsaywaman and Puka Pukara.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear going in was feeling isolated or lost. I was worried that I wouldn't make any friends in my program, or that I wouldn't like the feel of Peruvian culture. I was also concerned that I wouldn't feel safe in Cusco.

Contrary to my fears, I made friends quickly. Everyone in my program (a small group of 11 people) was kind, friendly, and easy to get along with. We all became very close after a short period of time. These people became my biggest support in Peru, and we had a lot of fun hanging out at cafes together or going on hiking trips.

Thanks to my new friends, my transition into Peruvian culture was much easier. I also had a lovely host family that made me feel very welcome and accepted. It did take a fair amount of time, but eventually, I became much more comfortable and settled into my life in Cusco. The city was also much safer than I expected, so I felt silly after worrying so much about safety.

The most important thing about adapting to a new culture is to have an open mind. If you don't open yourself up to new opportunities to interact with people and learn about their ways of life, then you aren't taking full advantage of the joys of being abroad. Be accepting of any new chances that come your way!

What was your favorite thing about Peru?

It's hard to pick just one! From the abundance of adorable llamas and alpacas to the delicious variety of maracuya (passionfruit) flavored foods, I loved practically everything about Peru.

I think I felt truly happiest when I hiked to the top of Lake Humantay with my friends. It was a really tough hike and we were all very tired when we reached the top, but the beautiful view made it worth it.

Living with a host family was also a wonderful experience. I became really close with them and we are still in touch today!

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Eric Wirth

Nothing goes better with a cup of morning/afternoon/late night coffee than getting to know Eric Wirth, the director of admissions for SIT Study Abroad, and the culture of SIT Study Abroad a little bit better.
Mountain Watching

Tell me a little about yourself. What has been your career path so far?

My passion for education abroad began after spending a year abroad in Elche, Spain during my junior year of high school. I landed my first job after college as an admissions counselor for a study abroad provider. After several years in the work force, I returned to graduate school at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where I had the opportunity to serve for a year as the resident director to one of the university’s programs in Spain. After finishing my MA, I reentered the world of international education with greater knowledge and an enhanced perspective on higher education and learning abroad.

Did you study abroad after high school?

I’ve studied abroad a total of four times; once in high school, twice in college – one semester and one summer – and then for a year as a graduate student. Each time in Spain. Through each experience, I learned more and was able to take my level of cultural and linguistic understanding to a deeper level. I suspect one day I will work toward a doctorate, and I can guarantee I will study abroad again. My first instinct would be to return to Spain to delve back into the culture and languages I adore.

As for SIT, what are the core principles that you strive to achieve?

At our core, SIT Study Abroad programs foster academic rigor, intensive cultural immersion, substantial community involvement, and an emphasis on field-based research.

What does the future hold for SIT? Any new exciting programs to share?

This spring we are running two new programs in the Middle East: one in Egypt focusing on urban studies and the other in Morocco focused on journalism and new media. We have also launched a new summer program that explores traditional approaches to healthcare in India. We continually strive to provide our students with the most interesting and relevant coursework and locations.

And the future of the industry - how do you think study abroad and international education will change over the next 10 years?

We’ll see the usual demographic shifts in mobility as a response to global politics, world events and markets. What will be interesting to watch is how governments and individual institutions address these shifts to meet demand and capitalize on market share. My hope is that more and more we will learn to become better citizens of the world and will travel abroad because we crave learning and connection with one another. Talking to people around the world is increasingly easier, but meaningful communication and understanding remains a challenge.

I'm continuously impressed with the depth and variety of programs offered by SIT Study Abroad. Their emphasis on field base learning is especially intriguing, as well as their commitment to cultivating relationships locally in host areas. I sincerely admire and hope to echo their attitude for turning every experience into a learning experience!

Over the last 10 years working in the field of international education, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Cuba, Czech Republic, England, Greece and Serbia. There are many fascinating countries and continents with amazing things to teach us.

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