Study Abroad Ideas
Colby Anthropology students study all over the world from Chile to Vietnam to Senegal. You can read about different programs and find student evaluations of their experiences on the website of Colby’s Off-Campus Study office. Select Anthropology in the major or minor field to search for program evaluations by anthropology students.
Questions about study abroad? Ask your anthropology advisor about how to choose a program that fits your particular interests.
Audrey Jacobs ’10: International Honors Program (SIT)
I studied 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.
Andrew Fabricant ’13 SIT Madagascar: National Identity and Social Change Program
When I began applying to study abroad programs spring semester of my sophomore year, I was immediately drawn to Madagascar: its rich biodiversity, complicated history with colonization, and unique geography all peaked my curiosity as important topics in the economic development of Sub-Saharan Africa. I hoped that by studying abroad in Madagascar I could develop my fieldwork skills while gaining insight into the factors that cause poverty and political instability. What I ended up getting from my experience in Madagascar was exactly that, and much more.
Asia and the Pacific
Scott Wentzell ’11: Apia, Samoa (SIT)
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.
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. 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.
North Africa and the Middle East
Caity Murphy ’10: Rabat, Morocco (CIEE)
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 University; I strongly recommend living with a host family for the cultural and linguistic immersion.
Emma Klein ’13 Madrid, Spain with NYU
This past Spring I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain through NYU. During my time in Madrid I lived in an apartment in a barrio, neighborhood, named Salamanca. Salamanca is an affluent neighborhood in Spain where many people live in beautiful apartments or townhouses. However, when members of the community wanted to get together with friends they do not gather in their homes but out at tapas bars or cafés. To me, this is the most interesting and beautiful aspect of the lifestyles of the madrileños. Instead of gathering within the home to be with friends and family madrileños meet in the park, go out to the bars, or simply walk along the streets. In Madrid these gatherings are present amongst all generations and their interactions are really quite refreshing.
Although some of my Spanish friends that I discussed this cultural difference with attributed it to the fact that in Spain, especially due to the recent economic troubles, multiple generations live in one household. Thus, many times madrileños gather outside of their homes in order to “escape” their family to continue fostering their relationships with friends. Through my experience of going to tapas bars after class or on the weekends, as well as simply hanging out in Retiro Park with friends, I found that many madrileños unwind while experiencing the liveliness of their city instead of the privacy of their homes. While individuals in Madrid do tend to gather outside of their homes more often than inside, this is not to say that they do not hang out in their homes and have dinner parties. However, it is quite interesting and fun how most madrileños gather outside their homes and go to a bullfight or out to tapas as a way to relax and catch up with friends and families instead of a more private interaction at home.
During my time in Madrid, I tried to spend as much time exploring the city and gathering outside of my apartment as I could. Instead of having a lazy Sunday staying in my room, many times I would walk to Retiro Park, a huge park in Madrid, and hang out with friends or chat on the benches with some madrileños. By gathering outside of my apartment I not only got to experience Madrid more closely, but I also had the opportunity to incorporate my relationships with people into the liveliness of everything the city had to offer. While there were so many aspects of my time in Madrid that affected my understanding of anthropology, what most resonates with me after my time abroad is the idea that there is no one correct way to live your life and experience a new culture. Every individual weaves themselves into a new culture in their own way and garners different meanings from their experiences. When incorporating yourself into a new culture it is fairly easy to categorize and differentiate your new experiences to what you are used to. Thus, through my understanding of anthropology I instead attempted to create my own identity within Spain while embracing the cultural differences.
Here at Colby I find that my experience living in Madrid has strengthened my understanding of anthropology. When studying about different case studies as well as learning theories, I now have the ability to personalize these ideas that are at times extremely abstract. By studying abroad in Spain I was able to learn more about myself and thus broaden my understanding of myself within the discipline of anthropology.
Sadie Robertson ’11: Valparaíso, Chile (SIT)
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 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. 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 cafés 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.
Sara Field ’11J: Quito, Ecuador (SIT)
I studied abroad with SIT Ecuador: culture and development 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 study 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 (Duke in the Andes)
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.