CET & UW in India: Varanasi

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Seeking a study abroad destination that is intense, exhilarating, and complex? The UW in India program, based in Varanasi, takes you into weavers’ workshops and musicians’ homes. The directed field study provides the chance to develop a research proposal, carry out an in-depth investigation into a topic of your choice, and complete a 20-page final paper. The tutorial is a way to learn a new skill, like sitar-playing or Mehendi, or to give back to the community through an internship at a local organization. Language options include Hindi of all levels, and Urdu for advanced learners. You'll live in a guesthouse, with a local roommate, or with a host family. The program includes an orientation in Delhi and a four-day Traveling Seminar. No prior language instruction is required. CET partners with University of Wisconsin-Madison to operate this program. Students from all schools are welcome to apply.

  • Conduct research and produce a paper—perfect for a grad school application or résumé
  • Extensive, long-standing network in Varanasi
  • Traveling Seminar that explores other parts of India
  • Courses taught in English + Hindi language classes
  • Hands-on learning with tutorials (e.g. Mehendi, Sitar, Kathak dance, etc.)

Questions & Answers


based on 4 reviews
  • Academics 7.3
  • Support 10
  • Fun 9.3
  • Housing 9
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 4 of 4
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A Challenge-But a Worthwhile One for Sure

Studying abroad in India truly is an experience like no other. It is complicated country, and is both one of the most difficult and challenging experiences I have had, as well as one of the most wonderful. In the end, if you want a program that will change who you are, this is it. One of the shining aspects of this program is the staff; they are absolutely wonderful and they are the reason that I enjoyed this program so much. They work hard everyday to try to give the students the best possible experience, and the traveling seminar was wonderful. Living with host families is a fantastic opportunity that will help you forge long-lasting bonds with a part of the community there. In the end, though, this is not an easy study abroad program full of just fun and relaxation; it requires a lot of work both academically and emotionally. But if you are looking for a program that will shape and change you in ways that you probably never imagined, you have found it.

How can this program be improved?
There were a lot of academic requirements, including a high volume of reading, which left little time for exploration and relaxation. Some of the courses seemed to use materials that were a bit outdated. I would recommend allowing for more long weekends, so that students have the opportunity to explore India more rather than having to put so much time and energy into academics.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Spring semester in Varanasi

Living in Varanasi for four months was an incredible experience and sharing a room with a local college student made it all the more impactful. The local contacts and resources from CET were huge - between the program director and the friendly staff, I could be put in touch with almost anyone in Varanasi to explore my evolving interests. My favorite course was Urban Geography, we learned in depth about the history of this ancient city and then had weekly walking tours of different sections of the city. The experience I gained working on my research project was invaluable and I've continued to be in touch with the contacts I made while there. This was an awesome opportunity for both academic exploration and living in a distinctly different culture.

How can this program be improved?
I wish our 'spring break' had been timed better to include a weekend. I remember it was in the middle of a week. I think that if it had included some days of the weekend, I would have had more time to explore another part of India.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Best decision of my life

This was an amazing program and I absolutely recommend it to anyone considering going to India. The staff, as are the host families associated with the program, are a great support system and are so friendly, welcoming and ready to help you. You have a lot of freedom in choosing your tutorial and research project which I appreciated and was a deciding factor for me in choosing this program. If you are looking for a place that will question your beliefs and how you approach life, come to Varanasi. Unlike other cities you could travel to, there is nonexistent nightlife (e.g. drinking and bars), unreliable wifi, and quite a bit of pollution, but I believe the benefits of Varanasi and its culture out weigh all these factors. I will never forget my time here with my host family, eating street food, going to weddings and concerts, traveling by train in India, interacting with locals, taking part in religious festivals and overcoming my fears of the unknown.

How can this program be improved?
I wish that we had more interaction with local students in Varanasi. It would have been nice if the program had an option to take one of our classes at Banaras Hindu University and we would be able to experience what college is like in India rather than taking classes just with the other American students in the Program House.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Student Review

Coming home after studying abroad in Varanasi, the question that everyone seemed to always ask me was "what was the craziest thing that happened?!" I still never really have a straight answer for this question. Sure, there was some pretty 'crazy' things that happened over my four months in India. However, the reason why I always have such a hard time answering this question is because all of these things, everything that might seem 'crazy' to someone that hasn't experienced it, eventually just became so normal to me. Things like traffic jams of cows, families of monkeys living along side me in my neighborhood, goats wearing sweaters as family pets, a family of four and their pet dog riding on a motorbike, people defying the laws of how many is too many to squeeze into a rickshaw, and so many other things. There could be so many different ways to answer this question, but any answer that I give just never really seems right. I think that this is what studying abroad in a place like India is suppose to do to you. Things that you never thought you would encounter in your lifetime, soon just become part of everyday life. Just having one semester in Varanasi was not nearly enough for me to become fully assimilated to the culture. However, it was enough time to find the normality in everyday life; and that in itself is the greatest thing that study abroad could have given me.

How can this program be improved?
The one thing I felt could have be improved was the semester schedule. We had a midterm break, which was great to have the opportunity to travel to different parts of India. However, it wasn't exactly in the middle of the semester. When we returned from the midterm break, we only had about one month left in Varanasi. The last month seemed to just fly by so quickly that I wish we would have had our midterm break a bit sooner in the semester. Other than that though, it was an overall amazing program!
Yes, I recommend this program


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About CET Academic Programs

CET Academic Programs is a study abroad organization that has been developing and delivering innovative educational programs abroad since 1982. Originally “China Educational Tours,” CET began operations in Beijing, and today offers a varied portfolio...