SIT Study Abroad

Program Reviews

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Cooper
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My experience in SIT program Ecuador: Development, Politics, and Languages was profoundly moving and not simply because I was able to have once-in-a-lifetime experiences like snorkeling in the Galápagos and hiking through the Amazon rainforest, but also because of the incredibly strong connections I built with the people of Ecuador.

I was fortunate to have amazing host family that supported me throughout the entire program and significantly incorporated me into their family dynamic. The bonds that I made with them will continue for my whole life, I'm sure of it.

An absolutely outstanding element of this program is the ISP (Independent Study Project) at the very end of the program. I decided to stay in Quito and work with one of the foremost LGBTQIA organizations of Ecuador. I worked on a fundraising project for about four weeks and learned the ins and outs of non-profit work. Throughout this ISP experience, I was able to share my own personal experiences with my Ecuadorian coworkers which helped me to understand my own personal position and helped me to start asking questions about who I am and where I come from.

The SIT Ecuador: Development, Politics, and Languages program seems to have affected me in a way that I don't think any other program would. Every single moment of the experience was instructive and just so richly gratifying. I can honestly and truthfully say that this program changed the way I think and will continue to do so as I move on through my academic and professional career.

What would you improve about this program?
If you are a student looking for an intensely rigorous academic program, this program is probably not for you. The style of instruction in classes is quite different from that of most universities or colleges, those in the USA at least. You might, at times, feel as if the work is a bit tedious and less than stimulating. However, this does not mean that you will not learn anything, because the majority of the learning of this program is experiential, whether it is going on excursion for a rural homestay or simply walking into a market to buy a pastry.
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Carolyn
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This program is so unique compared to the other programs my friends have gone on. Unlike most semester programs, IHP Human Rights takes you to three different countries to study, analyze, and compare the human rights contexts and situations. Not only did I learn about the histories and cultures of the countries, I learned so much about the history of human rights, critiques, theories, and ways to practice. We met with local activists, academics, and people who are involved in the human rights scenes in each context, and each student wrote a research paper about a topic of their choosing. It was incredible. I learned so much and got to see incredible beauty and eat delicious food and stay with amazing homestay families. I 100 percent recommend!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Being able to trek in the Himalayas was incredibly beautiful.
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Elijah
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I've written a lot elsewhere about my experience with this program, and this box is limited. So, I encourage you to read elijahrockhold.com if you're interested in learning the specifics. I will say here that this semester is crafted and procured by well-connected, kind, intelligent, and deeply committed people. This is not a program to travel every weekend or party. It is rigorous, and at many times difficult, rewarding experience; and requires a sacrifice of yourself for a greater common learning experience. You will learn about wrote things about politics, urban planning, anthropology. But you will see what that means for people in the world. You will understand the impact a person can/cannot have--and why. You will be asked to examine every part of yourself, but you do so in the space and comfort of people who share a similar quest for learning.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be humble, be patient, have grace with the group and yourself. Be conscious of your comfort, but surround yourself with people who will push that with you, and who you can push, too. You can learn so much from the people who want to give their time to you. It takes real effort. It will take the most effort when you feel you can't go anymore. Push through, and build community.
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Julia
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This program is definitely more social-science focused than I anticipated, being a STEM student myself. However, the classes, excursions, and discussions with locals tied together to present a big-picture view of the ecological and human challenges relating to climate change in a very engaging way. Classes were taught in Spanish by a different professor for each lecture, offering an interesting variety of perspectives but also many different paces of language.
The scenery and location is definitely the highlight of the program. Ushuaia sits on the base and up the slopes of the Southern Andes and, of course, Antarctica's landscapes were unbelievable. That said, the busy class schedule and several weekend excursions don't leave a ton of time for exploring and hiking.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be prepared for an intensive workload during the last weeks of class, as an entire semester is fit into 8 weeks. During those 8 weeks, classes are typically 3 hours 2x per day in a roughly 9-to-5 schedule.
Try to find at least one extra-curricular to get involved in! There are several art studios that offer classes or workshops, dance schools, and (indoor) soccer teams.
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Emily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I am extremely grateful to have spent a summer with SIT in Buenos Aires. By learning about memory and trauma through art, I was able to learn how people begin the path to heal while also demanding their stories be heard. This topic is always important to reflect on, but it is particularly relevant today. I got the opportunity to learn about a history not commonly taught in the United States, and was so lucky to live with a wonderful host mother who I saw in a subsequent trip to Buenos Aires. This program inspired me to focus on immigration patterns in Buenos Aires in research I conducted following the program, and is the reason why I ended up going back to Buenos Aires a year and a half later. A huge thank you to all of the people who made this program so impactful!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Make sure to give yourself time to emotionally process the intense places you go and experiences you hear about.
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Leanna
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I really enjoyed going on this program. It is, however, very different from the standard study abroad program at a foreign university, and prospective students should be aware of this. For example, I didn't find the courses to be particularly academically rigorous because there were relatively few assignments. Instead, the experience was mainly bulked out by site visits and a focus on experiential learning, which I felt definitely worked to its benefit in creating a different experience every semester and for every student. In order to ensure that get as much out of these experiences as possible though, there are mandatory programmed events for debriefing and synthesizing them. Students thus should be prepared to deeply discuss events and their reactions to events that are both scheduled and unexpected. There can also be uncertainty in the program scheduling due to its release on guest lecturers and site visits, and the program itself is densely packed and will probably feel restrictive if what you want out of your study abroad experience if absolute freedom to explore.

This program also invokes a lot of in-group bounding. Since the student group is pretty small (mine was 22 people) and, due to the active nature of the program, pretty isolated, relationships within the group are very important but can also feel stifling at times. A key relationship you will probably develop will be with your homestay families: homestays really help to ground you in each host country on this program. I also got pretty close with the administrators in each country, who were all incredibly talented, knowledgeable, and accessible. As a whole, this program is pretty safe. However, there were incidents of people being followed and phone theft. The administration will give formal safety orientations in each country — definitely pay attention to those and follow the buddy policy — but the country coordinators and their assistants will also offer informal advice and support that is invaluable.

For some more technical details, SIT gives a food and transportation stipend in each country. Depending on the country, it may or may not actually be enough: Morocco was more difficult food budgeting-wise, but the San Francisco and Vietnam stipends were especially generous. I personally enjoyed all the food and had no problems, but I know that vegetarians on the program had some difficulties staying vegetarian both in homestays and while eating out, and many people went through adjustment periods to new diets. I was also lucky enough to not experience any health issues during the program, but other people did and the administration was very prompt and helpful in responding to the problem. My experiences with my host families were all positive and all the hotels were quite nice, but there were issues with wifi accessibility in certain hotels, which could get really annoying. And because there's not only movement between countries but also a lot of movement within countries, there is a lot of time spent driving and traveling in general, which can get exhausting.

IHP Climate Change was incredible to experience and eye-opening to synthesize. So much happens on this program, and the explicit focus on interconnectivity and intersectionality helped to integrate every event into the learning. But the definite highlight for me was the people: from homestay families to guest lecturers to administrators to the other students, I met so many intelligent, thoughtful people that I am so grateful to have gotten the chance to meet. What this program offers is a very specific experience to allow you to learn from a vast variety of people and places, to show you how to learn both globally and locally, and to analyze the world around you and your place in it. I can't recommend it enough.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
A key part of this program is the final project — it's best to start collecting information for your project as soon as possible and so you should try to work towards figuring out at least the broad topic and general direction of your project early on. If you're unsure, definitely go discuss it with your professor and the other administrators.
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Maria
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

During my time on this program, through conversations with locals, visits to organizations, and participation in different events, I witnessed first hand and felt deeply the ways in which existing oppressive systems and institutions have negatively impacted the livelihood of specific groups of people. I appreciate this program because I learned so much and felt immersed in each country as a result of all of the country coordinators' efforts to make this happen. The importance of empathy and taking action was evident every day.

What would you improve about this program?
I would emphasize the importance of doing the readings for each country in each class because of the fact that it wasn't necessarily mandated to do the readings, preventing many students (including myself) from being fully engaged in class and consequently, in other aspects of the program.
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Molly
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The program exceeded my expectations almost across the board. The emphasis on environmental justice was not something I was aware would be central but was so grateful it was. The staff/program directors, country coordinators and traveling support were all so incredibly inspiring, and committed to listening to students, supporting them and creating the best all-around experience possible.
It had:
Opportunities - connections to speakers, local knowledge about sites, complementary readings that I would not be able to compile learning/traveling on my own

Traveling - I loved that I got an introduction to visiting three incredibly different countries

Freedom - heavy/intense programming at times but appropriate respect and deference to student freedom

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
The program is not focused around deep immersion, nor do you delve into one place. Traveling with a large group of mostly American students and being shuffled from place to place it was a bit more challenging to meet local people or interact in a low key way. However the program did afford a lot of freedom during off hours, such that it was certainly possible to take it upon oneself to explore in smaller groups and seek your own interpersonal connections. If you are looking to learn a language, this is not the program. It was very introductory for each country, called “survival courses”; not very enforced practicing or teaching.
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Sadie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My semester in Peru with SIT Study Abroad was all I could have hoped for and more. I entered the program with big goals and I can proudly say that I achieved them. I am now an advanced Spanish speaker, I completed an intensive research project I am passionate about, I am a capable traveler and can engage across cultures. This is not an easy program - it takes commitment, drive, focus. I was so pleased with my professors and the program staff for how they facilitated the program while providing space for independence and challenge. Further, they made me think in new ways and valued curiosity above anything else. Peru as a country and culture is incredible, and being in Cusco offers so much opportunity to learn, practice Spanish, and become comfortable in a vastly different culture. In the end, I am so grateful for all I learned and accomplished and I am confident this experience will benefit me hugely in the future.

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Darla
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

When looking at study abroad programs, I knew that I wanted a program that not only would be academically enriching, but that would also provide a fun and adventurous experience. Due to my focus on International Relations, the programs focus on globalization seemed like a great way to put into practice that which I had learned through my college classes. Throughout my semester abroad, I was constantly learning new information which was enhanced by our field based experiences. The staff of the program did everything that they could in order to make sure that we felt safe, comfortable, and engaged throughout the program. Each of the trips we did throughout the program allowed us to learn about indigenous communities while getting to see beautiful sites. I will forever remember all the amazing places that we got to visit. Something else that was great about the program was the host family I was placed with. They did everything possible to make sure that I felt like I was a part of their family and always checked in to see if there was anything they could do so I could feel more at home. Another great thing about the program was the research component. The way the program spaced it out made it a lot less daunting to complete the research project, there were also multiple check-ins as well as due dates which broke up the project in little parts. I will actually be using my research as the foundation for my college thesis. Overall, I would highly recommend this program to anyone who wants to explore and go on fun adventures while being academically engaged in a supportive environment.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I tend to consider myself a picky eater, so I never thought I would find myself eating oven roasted guinea pig or fried alpaca. However, I do have to say they were both quite good.