Greenheart Travel

Program Reviews

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Grace
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I went to Fukuoka, Japan the summer after my sophomore year of high school when I was 16, and it was the best experience of my life! I met so many incredible people from all over the world at Genki JACS and my host family was the best anyone could ask for. I was originally only supposed to go for 4 weeks but I was having such an amazing time that I extended it a 5th week.

Host family: I was nervous when I first met my host family, but they turned out to be some of the kindest, sweetest people I'd ever met! They spoke some English, but I used Japanese with them as much as possible. I ate dinner with them every night for about the first 3 weeks (I later started to go out with friends as I got closer to people) and my host mom would always make wonderful meals. My favorite dinner was when my host mom prepared okonomiyaki for us. It was SO GOOD! I would also have lots of interesting conversations with them during and after dinner comparing different cultural things. Staying with them helped my Japanese improve significantly, as I always had my Japanese-English dictionary app with me so I could look up words I didn't know. This improved my vocabulary significantly. My host family also took me a few places such as to a baseball game, a music festival, and a shinto shrine (Dazaifu). Overall, they were the best host family I could've asked for!

Daily life: Usually I would wake up, go to school, get lunch out, and then explore around Fukuoka for a little bit. Fukuoka is extremely safe and I never felt even slightly in danger. I could walk around with my phone in my back pocket and my wallet with my bus pass in my hand and didn't have to worry about a thing. The train station Hakata Eki is also a huge shopping center, so sometimes I would go up to one of the higher levels where there was a stationary store and I would buy postcards to send to family and friends. There is also a Japan Post Bank very close to the station so I could easily send them there and the staff were very friendly and helpful. You can also take out money from your account at any Japan Post Bank, so look for those! I also enjoyed either walking or taking the bus to Tenjin where there is an underground shopping center around the train station and food hall where I would often try different foods. Then I would take the bus home, shower, eat dinner with my host family, and do homework in the living room while my host dad watched TV. Sometimes I would also call my family or friends from home from inside my room. As I made more friends, though, I would sometimes go out to dinner with them or explore around the city and hang out at Kego Kouen (Kego Park), which is where lots of young people hang out on Friday nights and weekends.

School: Genki JACS was a fantastic school with very kind, friendly, and patient teachers. I learned a lot there and always felt comfortable. I also became friends with many of the people in my classes, and I still keep in touch with some of them! People there are a range of ages and many are in their 20s (the youngest I met was 14), but it never felt uncomfortable. Everyone was friends regardless of age and was supportive of each other. We usually got about one worksheet a night and would go over it the next day in class.

Friends: Most of my friends actually ended up being other foreigners attending Genki JACS, but they were all incredible people. I would hang out with them a lot after or in between class and explore parts of the city with them. I even ended up going on a hike with some of them at a nearby mountain!

Fun experiences: By far my favorite experience was actually something I coordinated outside of the program with some friends, so I encourage people going on this trip to not be afraid to seek out some of their own adventures! I went on an incredible hike with a bunch of people from my program through the rain. It was super challenging, but well worth the breathtaking view at the top. We could see the city, the mountains, and the land for miles. Another fun experience was when I went with Genki JACS to Shikanoshima, a nearby island. The water was so clear and blue and we went to a hotel for part of the day where we had the option of onsen as well as a huge meal. My host family also took me to onsen about a week before the trip to Shikanoshima on the same day we went to the shrine. It was a very positive experience and I felt a lot less awkward than I thought I would've. I got a few curious glances being a foreigner, but everyone was pretty unconcerned and was just enjoying the relaxing experience. I'm glad I went with my host family because my host mom and sister were able to show me the whole cleansing process before getting into the water. I would highly recommend onsen to anyone going to Japan, as it was very body positive and helped me realize how unique all bodies are. Another interesting experience I had was doing some modeling! I'm biracial (African American and Caucasian) and so my tightly coiled hair was a marvel to many people in the country. I was walking in Tenjin station one day when a man asked to do my hair! So we coordinated and I brought some friends with me to his salon as a precaution and he styled my hair and we did a photo shoot! It was a lot of fun and made me feel a lot more confident in a country where I very clearly looked like no one else.

Take aways: I feel like I definitely matured a lot during my trip. I learned to be independent, to not shy away from new experiences and adventures, and to make decisions on my own. I would highly recommend this trip to high school and college students especially because the city is so safe and is a wonderful environment for growing and maturing without many risks. The people I met from around the world at Genki JACS really expanded my horizons and increased my desire to travel even more (my trip actually lead me to visiting a friend in their native country a few months later!). My Japanese language skills improved a lot and my vocabulary in particular expanded. Between classes and my host family, I started to be able to just shoot out phrases without thinking, which was an amazing feeling.

If you have any questions or want more info, I posted about it on my Instagram @graceinnihon. Feel free to message me about it!!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Octopus. My first full day in Japan, I went to a music festival with my host family and afterwards, we got takoyaki. Takoyaki is a kind of dough-like ball with a little bit of octopus on the inside and lots of flavorful, savory sauces drizzled on the outside. I didn't want to be rude and seem close minded, so I ate it and it was actually delicious! I order them now in the U.S. when I'm at Japanese restaurants and I even introduced them to my friends. My host mom would also put octopus chunks in my salad sometimes for breakfast (she was the kindest woman and made me breakfast EVERY day!) which took getting used to but I grew to like it a lot!
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Jovany
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

i'm Sculable Jovany , i won a scholarship from Greenheart Travel to volunteer abroad as a First Time Traveler in the Tropic Ventures & Sustainable Forestry in Puerto-Rico !
Travel as a first time traveler to discover a new culture,a new place you never been before is exciting, you'll feel this when you landed.
arriving in Puerto-Rico, my homestay was in the southeast of the island in the mountains, 1 hour from San Juan. i was received by Thrity Vakil and Andrés Rúa, both the director of the Tropic Ventures,
My Bedroom and surrounded a mountains and near to a river i spend seven days in this paradise !
After hurricane Maria 'Las Casas De La Selva" wich is the home of the Tropic ventures has suffered a lot of majors damages to its infrastructure and the forest lost 99% of his trees ,since then many volunteers come to this place to bring their help in a way or another to the sustainable forestry !
During my days i accomplished my volunteers tasks like clearing and pruning the overgrowth in the Waste Water , keeping the house clean and help my host family with the dinner.
By afternoon my host family takes me out to discover the cities around, while there i have learn how to dance salsa, i have appreciate a lot my host family!
my experience in one word was amazing ! for sure i'll be back,
I recommend this program for everybody who open-minded, love exploring nature and have ability to work in in team ! you'll have such a great experience there!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
the most surprising thing that i see during my stay in Puerto-Rico, was while i visited he Old San Juan , i saw a photographer who putting multiple parrots on a boy, on his head, on his shoulders and then taking a picture, all that within a minute without the parrots flying away !
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David
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Overall, the Greenheart organization and its staff were easy to work with as was their local partner, Experiment Chile. The application process was smooth and efficient. I especially liked how they made all the arrangements to get me from the airport when I arrived to my host family. The first day of orientation was a nice bonus. My host family was kind and generous. During my time in Chile, the country was undergoing the most significant turmoil in the last 30 years. I was a bit surprised that neither Greenheart nor Experiment Chile checked in with me to see how things were going. For me, as an older, seasoned traveler, this was not a big issues. However, for a younger person that hasn't traveled much, this situation may have been disconcerting. Overall, my experience was very positive and I would recommend the Greenheart Homestay and Teach English program.

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Lin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My experience with Greenheart was absolutely amazing! I was placed in the South of France with a small and sweet family. We all got along really well and the girls always made effort to learn and speak English! My experience was very unique because of my family's schedule. I would spend weekdays with them, but on weekends they would leave so I got to explore and do my own thing! Greenheart made my experience such a breeze! With such a reliable and responsive team, I never really felt like I was alone being abroad (especially as it's my first solo trip!). I loved my experience so much I decided to stay for the rest of the year here in France. It's an excellent program that I would recommend to anyone wanting an immersive, cultural adventure whether it be for professional or personal reasons!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If I did this program over, I would speak to my girls in even more English than I did. As their English level was quite low, I tried to meet them in the middle to get to know them better and communicate with them, or explain complex ideas. So there were times when I did speak French to them. I feel like I was afraid of making them hate English even more than they did, however I should have just spoken more English to get them to try even more. My advice: try to speak as much English as possible. Your family will love you and because of that they will try as much as they can to communicate with you! Be fearless!
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Lin
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had a really good experience taking my TEFL course with Greenheart. Kara was incredibly helpful and responsive. She answered all my questions, enrolled me, and solved any issues quickly and efficiently. Thanks Kara for making my overall experience a breeze! With Greenheart you don't necessarily have to take a TEFL course, you can opt to do one of their programs alone (check the site). But if you are also interested in doing TEFL it is great! The program helps you take care of the administrative work and you can then use your experience in the program towards your practicum hours! 2 in 1!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The most unfamiliar thing I ate was actually rabbit! As I am doing Greenheart Travel's Homestay program in France, I celebrated Christmas here! With the family I was staying with they prepared rabbit braised in a mustard cream sauce, it was absolutely divine!
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Jolie-Anne
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I recently have returned from a trimester abroad in Spain and I could not be more happy with how my exchange went! From the beginning, GreenHeart Travel stood out to me when I was searching for study abroad programs because of their communication skills and adaptability to my needs. They have a great team and always keep you updated before, during, and after your program. I feel this program prioritized my family and location program, trying to match my likes and interests with a potential host family. One of the best parts of my exchange was my host family! I am a volleyball player, so GreenHeart's team placed me in a city called Albacete, an area with many endorphin-burning activities, and with an active host family. It was perfect because we would run together and sometimes participate in marathons! I definitely recommend this program and my parents and I could not be more happy with my time in Spain!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Get off your phone! Phone addiction is not just an American thing, Spaniards are addicted too! It may be nerve wracking to start the conversation, but it is 100% worth it! I wish I had the courage earlier in my exchange to begin conversations rather than shying away on my phone or avoiding an interaction.
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Sydney
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I stayed with a host family for 3 months in Italy. The family Greenheart Travel found was amazing. The program also took into account what I was hoping to have in a host family and then went and found a family that was an absolute perfect match. This program is very good at giving you resources as well, for actually teaching the family. They provide you with a google drive of lesson plans that you can search through and find which ones work best for you and your family! They also give you advice and support on culture shock and reverse culture shock so that you’re as prepared as you can be for that!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Meeting my host family for the first time was very scary for me. I had been chatting with them before I came but there’s always that initial meet that can be terrifying. It ended up being and INCREDIBLE family and I really had nothing to worry about.
J.C.
4/10
No, I don't recommend this program

I experienced a misunderstanding between myself and XploreAsia during the placement portion of my TESOL course. Instead of supporting me and seeking resolution the Senior Program Manager at Greenheart Travel sent me an aggressive email in an attempt to put me in my place. This made my placement process even more difficult while navigating culture differences.

I paid a premium to work with Greenheart Travel again and expected a higher level of support while aboard. It was only after a string of emails with the Director of Greenheart Travel that any wrong doing was admitted.

I would recommend saving your money and going with a cheaper organization that might offer better support and act more professional towards participants.

What would you improve about this program?
I would suggest Greenheart Travel provides better training to it's staff to act in an empathetic and professional manner. They should strive to reach understandings between partner organizations and participants when conflicts arise.
Response from Greenheart Travel

Hi John. Thank you for your feedback! We always appreciate learning how we can do better, and we’re glad your conversations with the Director of Greenheart Travel helped clear up the misunderstandings from both sides. We’re glad you received a placement that you enjoy!

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Natasha
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I decided to do the TESOL course in-country as I thought it would give me an opportunity to familiarise myself with Korea in the safety of a course before I was left on my own in a foreign country. I also saw it as an opportunity to get some in-classroom experience on the camp days before I was teaching myself as I did not have any prior experience. The TESOL course was fantastic, the XploreAsia team were amazing and really supportive and Greenheart Travel were also amazing in helping and supporting me before I flew out. I didn't have any questions left unanswered and emails were replied to within a day. It was definitely the best thing I have done, I have made friends for life and now I am settled in my job I still see them usually on a weekly basis. I would sign up with Greenheart and XploreAsia again in a heartbeat!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
It wasn't too crazy, it was only spicy beef noodle soup but I have never experienced spice like it. I knew Korean food did usually have a kick to it but this soup took it to a whole new level. I was coughing after every mouthful, sweating profusely and I am pretty sure part of my throat disintegrated but I am getting better with spice now and hopefully one day I can go back to that restaurant and enjoy it!
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Lindsay
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I absolutely loved green heart they were beyond helpful with everything I needed and with preparing for my trip.
Kara was absolutely amazing and made the entire process very easy and with very minimal stress. She kept me on schedule and if I had forgotten to do anything she was always there to remind me.
Great organization, very efficient, great communication, great team

They checked in regularly and throughout the entire process of planning the trip it can be overwhelming and stressful. For myself the entire visa process and trying to book everything in time was overwhelming, Kara and greenheart coach you through the entire process and make sure all forms and documents are completed to standard for nothing is a surprise for your arrival