Study Abroad Ideas

Emily Fleming '12:

I spent the fall of 2010 studying abroad in Nairobi, Kenya with St. Lawrence University. It was by far the most rewarding yet challenging four months of my life. My program was based in the suburbs of Nairobi, and we took classes with professors from the University of Nairobi. I took a Kenyan history class, and an anthropology class focusing on health and sickness as my electives. We were all required to take a core course (anthro, focusing on culture, environment, and development) and Kiswahili. However, most of our time was spent outside of Nairobi. We embarked on various homestays as part of the core course including a week in the rural, agricultural communities in the foothills of Mt. Kenya, ten days in Tanzania with the Hadzabe, one of the only hunter-gatherer tribes left in the world, and a three week urban homestay with families in Nairobi. We also travelled to the coast to learn about traditional Swahili culture, and spent ten days studying the Maasai, and we spent a night with a Maasai family in their boma (hut). That was one of the longest nights of my life, but such an eye-opening experience, and one I will never forget (especially since I woke up the next morning with flea bites all over my stomach and back). The last month of my program I conducted an independent study project with Africa Yoga Project, an organization that uses the transformative power of yoga to change the lives of Nairobi's slum dwellers--truly inspirational!

After leaving Kenya, I felt a desperate call to return, so I went back for a month this summer, and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro (hands down, the most physically challenging thing I've ever done but SO worth it). I also spent two weeks working with Africa Yoga Project to help rebuild a community center in Kibera, one of Nairobi's largest slums!

St. Lawrence's program is AMAZING and introduces you to people and places you will never forget. I woke up and went to be every day truly happy! St. Lawrence's Kenya program has been around for forty plus years, and I'm happy to say that I was the fourth woman in my family to study abroad in Kenya with St. Lawrence!

Heather Arvidson ’11: 

BotswanaIn the Spring of 2010 I had the opportunity to travel abroad with Pitzer College in Botswana. The program was broken up into three different homestays, the first in a rural village, the second a slightly more developed and larger village and finally in the capital city of Gaborone. For the first month we took intensive Setswana classes, nearly five hours everyday, then during our next homestay each student interned for a different organization. In the end I was able to do my own research with a University of Botswana professor as part of a Directed Independent Study Project. Each homestay was broken up by study trips; we traveled to Kasane, Maun and Zimbabwe to see big game, the Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls (the most incredible place I have ever been). Pitzer College programs are especially nice since the groups are usually very small (8 students on my program), and the programs offer complete cultural immersion meaning we are forced to dive headfirst into the lives of those we live with.

Sadie Robertson '11: Valparaíso, Chile

Three words to sum up my abroad experience in Valparaíso, Chile: I love Valpo. The city is vibrant, cheerful, and artsy; with brightly colored buildings and apartments that line the hills looking down onto the Pacific Ocean. The people of Valpo are down to have a good time, and are friendly and welcoming to outsiders. I went to Valpo through SIT: Culture, Development, Social Justice. While the program seems a little too restrictive at the beginning, they slowly loosen their grasp on you so that during the last month where students do their Independent Study Project (ISP) you are completely on your own (if you want to be). During this period you can live almost anywhere you want in Chile in order to research the topic of your choice. Because I loved the city so much I stayed in Valparaiso and wrote my thesis on the juvenile detention centers surrounding Valpo and the marginalization of the kids who cycle through them.
Although Chileans are infamously fast speakers who omit syllables and words from their speak, my Spanish improved immensely, and I came out of Chile confident with my Spanish speaking abilities. Some advice: make some Chilean friends (it's not hard!) and speak with them. They love it, will probably try their English out on you, and are open and laid back conversationalists. The cafe's are perfect for studying in, the streets a joy to walk (or climb, as Valpo is incredibly hilly), and the clubs at night are hoppin' with cumbia and reggaeton. This program is perfect for any Spanish speaking anthropology major.

Scott Wentzell '11: Apia, Samoa

I studied abroad last semester in the South Pacific island nation of Samoa on an SIT program. I lived and studied at the University of the South Pacific just outside of Apia in a dormitory with around 100 students from around the Pacific islands. In addition to my time in Apia I also traveled to Savaii, the other major island comprising Samoa, to Fiji, to American Samoa, and to Hawaii. I stayed with three separate host families, one each in Samoa, American Samoa, and Fiji. By traveling to several islands in the Pacific and living with students from dozens more I was able to immerse myself in cultures from around the broad and diverse Pacific region. The best part of the whole experience for me was studying under our Academic Director, Jackie, who was simultaneously a professor, chauffeur, guide, mother, and friend. I would recommend this program to any anthropology major. Feel free to contact me at any time about my experience or this program!

Sara Ramsay '11: Dakar, Senegal

I spent last semester (spring 2010) in Dakar, Senegal with CIEE. It was a great experience, and is one that I would definitely recommend to any Anthropology student with a foundation in French. While in Dakar, I lived with a Senegalese host family and took five classes at the CIEE study center. The courses were taught by Senegalese professors (in either French or English), but were only available to CIEE students. The program also included several trips (including a one-week rural home stay) throughout the semester, and provided a wonderful support system for students studying abroad. Although not so rigorous as Colby academically, CIEE-Dakar was a great study abroad program. I loved every minute of it.

John Perkins '11: Nairobi, Kenya

My travels abroad landed me in Nairobi, Kenya last spring (2010) on the SIT: Kenya Health and Community Development study abroad program.  What a blast.  Living with a family in Nairobi for the better part of three months was easily the most meaningful part of this experience.  During the semester, we attended Kiswahili language courses, 2 seminar courses on development and public health, and a field studies course.  We also participated in an extended rural homestay on the Indian Coast (check out the Swahili culture, a truly unique social creation), trekked it out to northern Tanzania for a week, and visited many a non-governmental organization around Nairobi during our frequent field trips.  The last month consisted of an Independent Study Project; essentially a highly condensed research project utilizing anthropological research methodology.  Like many study abroad programs, SIT offered an introduction to international development an public health in Kenya, but they also provided the resources to explore more.

Debbie Merzbach '11: Auckland, New Zealand

I studied abroad this past spring in Auckland, New Zealand with a program based out of Butler University.  The five months I spent there were incredible, and I would emphatically encourage anyone with even the slightest interest in study abroad to DO IT.  I lived in university housing with four other US American students from different parts of the country and attended classes at Auckland University.  Some of the classes weren't too different from ones I've taken here (besides having more students, since Auckland is a huge school), but for one of them I learned and performed "traditional" Maori (New Zealand's first settlers) songs and dances.  During which I became intimately aware of the "A for effort" concept.  In addition to going to class, I traveled weekly and went hiking whenever I could (New Zealand is famous for its remarkable peaks--one of my favorites was Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings!).  Other trips took me to hot water beaches (you could excavate sand to form a hot tub!) and other coastlines to surf, paddle, or see penguins and sea lions!  From an anthropological standpoint, the trip was memorable in the sense that the country is still experiencing a lot of political and social tension due to its colonial past.  This was present in many of the interactions in which I took part or observed, so I was continuously drawing upon anthropological knowledge to structure my understanding of situations or relationships.

Sara Field '11J: Quito, Ecuador

I studied abroad with SIT Ecuador: culture and development (now with a different name) in Fall of 2009. After a month long intensive Spanish course in a suburb of Quito, we lived in Quito for about a month taking courses as a group detailing development in the country, from Economic to cultural. Following Quito, our group of about 20 students split up to do Independent Study Projects (ISPs). All sections of the program involved living with amazing local homestay families. I spent the next month in Cuenca, 10 hours south of Quito, where I did a mini-ethnographic work and participant observation with an abused women's shelter. The program also has wonderful excursions, including ones to the Cloud Forest, the Amazon Rain Forest, and the coast. Ecuador is a lively and diverse country, and this program enabled me to learn about the history, development and current events in Ecuador in a very engaging way.

Loretta Biss '10: Quito, Ecuador 

I studied abroad last semester in Quito, Ecuador with a Duke University program called Duke in the Andes.  It was an absolutely wonderful experience, and I think it is perfect for an anthropology student.  I attended 4 classes at an Ecuadorian university, lived with a host family, and volunteered at an elementary school for indigenous children.  In addition to our time in Quito, the program featured four trips to different areas around Ecuador: an indigenous community in the mountains, the Amazon forest, the coastal region, and the Galapagos Islands.  All of these trips were amazing, and I learned so much about the diverse peoples of Ecuador: the indigenous groups of the mountains, rain forest, and coast, as well as the Afro-Ecuadorian community.
Audrey Jacobs '10: International Honors Program
I'm currently studying abroad with the International Honors Program. They do multi-country semester and year abroad programs based around a certain area of study. For example, my program is Health and Community.

Caity Murphy '10: Rabat, Morocco

My program is CIEE: Language and Culture in Rabat, Morocco. Morocco is an
ideal place for anthro majors to study abroad, with four major languages
(French, Arabic, English, and Berber) and cultural influences from the Middle
East, Africa, and Europe. You have the choice of living with a family or the
dormitories of Mohammed V Universtiy; I strongly recommend living with a host
family for the cultural and linguistic immersion.

Hanna Noel '10: Dakar, Senegal

Last semester I studied in Senegal with the CIEE in Dakar program. It allows you to choose from a wide range of courses including Wolof, Senegalese culture, religion, literature, etc. while living with a host family, immersing yourself in the local culture and falling in love with the country of "Teranga" (hospitality).