IFSA/Alliance: Study Abroad Programs in India

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IFSA offers an exciting chance to study abroad in Manipal, Pune, or Varanasi, India! All three programs are worth 15 credits for the semester session. The Contemporary India program in Pune is also offered in the summer for 6 credits.

Programs available in India:

• Public Health and Indian Studies - located in Manipal, India
• Contemporary India - located in Pune, India
• Varanasi: the City, the River, the Sacred - located in Varanasi, India

Questions & Answers


based on 3 reviews
  • Academics 5.7
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 9
  • Housing 8.3
  • Safety 8.3
Showing 1 - 3 of 3
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An Experience of a Lifetime

Studying abroad in Pune is a decision that I will forever stand by. Although I had many challenges, overall my experience from homestay, classes, traveling, to food, were positive. I had a really enjoyable homestay. I stayed with a woman who was super kind, compassionate, and understanding. She really was a second mother to me and I'm still in contact with her now. I think the homestay really added another dimension to the experience because we were able to celebrate festivals with extended family members, visit aunts and uncles houses, and learn more about the food, religion, and traditions from someone's everyday experiences.

I loved that Pune is big enough that there is a lot to do, but not to big that you never get a feel for the city. By halfway through the semester we all really knew the city, its layout, and how to find our way around. I also like that there are a lot of young people in Pune and a lot of colleges so you meet a lot of people (Indian and others) your own age. India is also huge, and during travel week in November (a week with no set programming when you can travel wherever) you are able to really take advantage of everything the country has to offer in terms of languages, cultures, food, etc. and traveling is reasonably cheap/easy. I really enjoyed the times I had with the other people on my program when we went traveling and had the chance to leave Pune. Traveling in India made me a lot more confidant in my ability to travel anywhere. I also made some really good friends in Pune who I am still in contact with. What I did not like about Pune/India was that things are often not as efficient or fast as they could be. When things went wrong (and things always go wrong during study abroad no matter where you go) it sometimes took longer or there were more steps to finding solutions.

I enjoyed the Alliance program a lot! I felt that the staff at the center were really friendly, helpful, and in many ways were like a family to us. The program coordinator and her assistant are really willing to hear your feedback, concerns and do anything they can to help with a smooth transition and enjoyable semester. They help you navigate your homestay, traveling around India and Pune, give recommendations for things to try/see/do, and by the end we were all like a mini family (not to sound too cliché). You also have two excursion weekends all together which are really great bonding times. The center was nice enough. It is at the Gokhale Institute which is really pretty and there you can get breakfast, have your classes, and all the staff are based there.

Most of the time I felt safe and I made the same good decisions I would make in any city I don't know very well. Having said that, I'm not a person who is shaken up very easily. There was a young woman on my program who felt uncomfortable in certain situations where there were large crowds, but I think as long as you are assertive and stick in a group you shouldn't encounter any issues.

The food did get a little repetitive after a while, but being able to eat out for lunch and some dinners offered a nice dose of diversity. Almost all the homestays are vegetarian and so no meat will be allowed into their homes (they also consider eggs to be meat), but outside of that you kind find chicken, etc. in most restaurants. I personally never got sick or anything, but I also spent the summer leading into my program interning in India so I could have been more acclimatized than others. A lot of food will in some way be "Indianized" no matter if its pizza, KFC, Italian food, etc. so just don't expect anything to be EXACTLY the way you would find it in the US.

Yes, I recommend this program
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The Real Deal Public Health Experience in India

It was DEFINITELY worthwhile. I learned so much about myself through the inherent challenges of living in a new country, especially one like India. Pushing your boundaries and going outside your comfort zone is the most rewarding gift you can give yourself.
The classes expanded my knowledge a good bit without feeling overwhelming. Some classes were based on paper writing and others on tests.
The resident director on campus was the best lifeline. She built a great relationship with the study abroad office along with our public health professors to be our advocate on campus.
I shared a double with a current Manipal student. The rooms are spacious and the bathrooms are well cleaned by the housekeepers. A storage closet is provided to stock up on blankets, hangers, etc to reduce cost.
Meals in one of the mess halls on campus are provided in your program fees. Similar to any mess hall on your own home campus, you get tired of the food they serve but Manipal is surrounded with other restaurants and canteens. A meal off campus would cost $2-3. Laundry was $5 a week. Local transportation would be $0.50-3.00. India, compared to the US, is very cheap.
We often rode the local bus to get to various places in Manipal and Udupi (the next closest city) which was a great opportunity to meet locals. We took the bus to a local art gallery to take art classes by a local woman and her other clients.
I had to visit the hopsital on campus two times throughout the semester; once for stomach problems and the other for ear infections. The hospital on campus is one of the best in India from what I've heard and experienced. Healthcare is very affordable compared to the US and the program fee includes insurance. Check the CDC for a list of vaccinations needed.
Find a credit card that doesn't charge a fee to withdraw cash.

How can this program be improved?
Better communication between professors and students.
Yes, I recommend this program
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If you want to visit India, this is the program!

In the Spring of 2014, I went on the IFSA Butler - Pune program in India. I had wanted to travel to India for several years, and decided to make it happen with my study abroad experience. I highly recommend this program. The program director, Uttara, is incredible and like a second mom to all the students. My host family was incredibly hospitable and welcoming. The food is delicious (you will probably get sick once or twice because your stomach will be adjusting, but its worth it!). The classes are super interesting, but not very challenging. Pune is also a great city. Its very affordable. Travel from home to school was several kilometers but only cost about 30 rupees (50 US cents) that I split with my roommate. The food is equally cheap and for awhile was eating local lunch food from about 40 rupees to 70 (66 cents to 1.15). Incredibly cheap. But Pune is also a very wealthy / international city, and certain neighborhoods (i.e. KP) is much more expensive but has more clubs, bars, and fun places to hang out. The city has lots to offer and I highly recommend this Pune program to anyone who wants to experience India.

How can this program be improved?
I wish they had more time for travel! They let you travel on most weekends and give you one week to travel in the middle of the year. But that wasnt enough!
Yes, I recommend this program

About Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA)

The Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1988. Our primary goal is to provide quality study abroad opportunities, plus academic and personal support services, for qualified North American undergraduates seeking to...