SIT Study Abroad

SIT Study Abroad

About

SIT has been providing immersive, field-based study abroad programs for undergraduates for more than 50 years. SIT offers more than 70 programs in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East, as well as comparative programs in multiple locations. In addition to its rich history, SIT Study Abroad has a number of unique qualities that make it an ideal choice for an extraordinary, transformative study abroad experience.

SIT students step beyond the boundaries of a traditional classroom to analyze critical issues shaping local communities around the globe. Students become deeply engaged in a topic and undertake their own research, case studies, in-depth practica, or community projects. SIT Study Abroad is deeply embedded in local communities around the world. Program components are designed to respect the strengths of local partners to foster enduring relationships.

Website
Founded
1932
Headquarters

1 Kipling Road
Brattleboro, VT 05301
United States

Reviews

Default avatar
Emily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I participated in the ‘SIT Argentina: Transnationalism and Comparative Development in South America’ program during the spring of 2018. I had a fantastic experience with the program overall and would recommend it to students who want to gain a well-rounded perspective on the current and past political, economic and social issues facing Argentina and the Southern Cone region in general. My classes were small and taught by experts in different fields, which allowed us to gain different perspectives on the issues we were learning about. Our classes often included experiential components: they included field trips to different NGOs and social justice initiatives in Buenos Aires and beyond. The program directors in Buenos Aires (Nuria, Julieta and Pablo) are some of the kindest, most supportive people I’ve met and made me feel comfortable and supported at all times.

One of the best parts of the semester, and the thing that separates this program for other SIT programs, was that students get to travel to three surrounding countries (Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay) as part of our curriculum. During these excursions, we took classes, went on site visits to the MERCOSUR headquarters and local NGOs, and spoke with local activists and academics in order to better understand various issues facing the Southern Cone region as a whole. We were able to do some tourism on these trips too, which was incredible! These international excursions really complimented my learning and experiences in Buenos Aires and were definitely some of the highlights of my semester. Most SIT programs do not incorporate international travel, so this one is particularly unique in that way.

Buenos Aires is very exciting, bustling city to live in and there is always something to do. I lived with a wonderful host family and was able to improve my Spanish while living with them and through my classes. If I could go back and choose this program again, I absolutely would!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Based on what I've heard from friends, this program is more academically rigorous that some other study abroad programs in Buenos Aires, but I found it to be well worth it given how much I learned.
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Grace
6/10
Yes, I recommend this program

There is very little that this program could have done to make my experience better! The staff support when I was there with Nuria, Pablo and Julieta was really incredible-- they were always available to help talk through any issues with academics, homestay, language learning or just general social/emotional learning. As study abroad programs go, this one was also pretty academically rigorous as well-- all coursework in Spanish and biweekly presentations/paper.

However, I personally didn't have the greatest time, though I believe the rest of my cohort really enjoyed themselves. Here are a couple of the reasons why:
- The program travels a lot (Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil!) which grated on my ability to acclimate to one area and really form long-term relationships. Still really cool experience though to experience such a diversity of places though, and definitely a good fit for folks who love travel!
- Buenos Aires for young people has a strong nightlife (boliches, bars) and feria scene, which wasn't super my jam, but could definitely be yours! I don't think I realized that I didn't love cities before and prefer a more suburban/nature-y/laid back vibe. Buenos Aires is a really bustling place.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I think most people in the Global North have never seen slums of the scale that exist in Global South. So while it was probably problematic that I was able to engage in such "slum-tourism"-- it was still definitely eye-opening to see what poverty can be world wide.
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Meagan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This program gives you everything that you could possibly want out of a study abroad program while really allowing you to pursue your own interests within the framework of sustainability and environmental action. As a biology and political science major, this program allowed my to bend my interests in a new way and explore them from within the framework of environmentalism.

We studied global and Australian environmental movements, political movements, the structure of activism and tools and methods for actionable change at the individual, societal and global levels. Our three major professors all have different backgrounds and contribute different but really valuable qualities to the program.

You travel with a small group of students, and you become remarkably close to the people who accompany you on the program. To me, this was one of the greatest elements of the semester. You have huge freedom in the final six weeks to design your own independent research project while still having enough guidance to create something legitimate and valuable. This liberation from typical academics gave me the opportunity to focus on something new that I never would have been able to research at my home institution. If you are adventurous, love the natural world in all of its forms, and want to learn how to become a change-maker, I recommend this program.

Beyond the academics, there is no better place to live in Australia than Byron Bay (where you spend around a month cumulatively) particularly for someone who loves the outdoors. You also are able to spend a few days in Sydney and Melbourne, and are able to return to the city for the final six weeks if you choose to. Through the program you explore and learn about more remote areas like the Tasmanian wilderness and the city of Lismore. This program is was an incredible experience and I feel more ready to pursue my future interests because of it!

What would you improve about this program?
You have to be ready to travel with a smaller group of students and to take your final research project pretty seriously. The program would also be challenging for someone who doesn't enjoy spending days at a time in remote locations and the wilderness, although this is a fairly small section of the program. I wouldn't change either of these things, but it is something that students should know!
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Elizabeth
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My time in Argentina was unique, fun, and I learned so much. Just a few reasons to consider this experience:

1. The staff are wonderful. Even before I landed in Argentina, the staff were communicating with me about everything I needed to know. Throughout our excursions to other countries, I had full confidence in them. When I had a family emergency occur back in the US, the staff helped me manage those logistics. Overall great leadership, which made it possible for me to focus on the learning and fun.

2. I learned a ton. Going to other countries meant I had a comparative mindset from the start. We had well-balanced and engaging lectures, and great field visits that left me thinking more deeply about the issues of development and transnational processes.

3. I had so much fun. I can't believe we packed in so much over the semester. Our field visits were relevant to the classroom experience. I also benefited from recommendations and must-sees in Buenos Aires. My host family took me to experience the city, and I bonded with them as if they were really my family. SIT did a spectacular job in placing me with a homestay.

I would absolutely recommend that future students select the Argentina: transnationalism and comparative development program.

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Kaitlyn
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My experience was so unique because I feel like I did a program that was very different than the rest of the programs my friends or fellow students had done. As well as the choice to study in Chile. Not many students choose to study in Chile and this is what makes this program so unique. The academics were difficult in my program, but the support from my professors and directors is what pushed me to improve my Spanish tremendously. I went from speaking some beginner level Spanish to an advanced level. Some things that differentiated this program from others in Chile was the fact that I traveled and did excursions with my program. We went on two, two week excursions and then usually had an excursion during the week. During the two, two week excursions we traveled up north and then down south to learn and study the indigenous people of Chile. The aymara and the mapuche people. I learned to much from them that textbooks or online articles could have never taught me. It was nice to have hands on learning and not textbook learning. A lot of my friends who went abroad went to the UK. I've heard from them that their school work and academic rigor was easy and that they rarely had school. If you are looking to slack in school and not take it seriously this program is not for you! For instance, in my program I was never late, never missed a day of school and always had homework. I also was never not speaking Spanish. I don't regret my decision at all because everything you do in the program is to help you. Especially, to prepare you for the end of the program, the ISP and internship section. I highly recommend doing the ISP, it helped me gain a lot of self confidence in my self and in my Spanish speaking abilities and research a topic that I am interested in. I wish I could relive my study abroad experience. This program is truly life changing.

What would you improve about this program?
This program could improve on their organization some things were not organized that well. On another note, I loved my home stay family, but I did not like how old they were...I was jealous of all the students in the program who had host brothers and sisters. I recommend coming into this program with a high level of Spanish. I came in the program with a small amount and I did not practice over the summer and the academics and language was super overwhelming and difficult for me!

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

Alumni interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Lauren Ashley Newman

Lauren is an Arabic and international studies student from Mississippi. She is entering her senior year of college, but did not want to graduate without spending a semester abroad.

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Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because it combines both language study and subject-area classes focusing on things like peace studies and political science. Usually, centers in Jordan focus primarily on language: I wanted more. The program also gave an option to do an independent research project, which I was very excited for. The opportunity to do research abroad as an undergraduate is rare, and I am so happy I was able to get that valuable experience!

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The program got us our housing during orientation, matched us with a host family to live with for the rest of the semester, made sure our host families were giving us two meals a day, provided a local sim card, and booked us trips both around Jordan and abroad to the UAE. All of the trips were fully funded, including meals.

We had to pay to renew our phone plans. A lunch and transportation stipend was provided, but we paid for any independent exploring we did around Amman on the weekends. We also had to book our own flights, but the program provided transportation from the airport. Most of the logistics throughout the semester were handled by the amazing staff at SIT.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Be open-minded! It is important to realize that the culture you are entering is not your own. Things may move at a different pace, or people may chit-chat for a long time, or you may get pushed in a line at a grocery store. That's okay! The world won't end. The people in Jordan are beyond kind and hospitable, so just roll with the punches.

You will become a more flexible person, and your perspective will be forever altered. Being able to adjust in different atmospheres isn't just a skill you'll need when you're abroad. You may need it when you start an office job, when you travel for work, when you travel for leisure, when you move to a new city. Recognize any culture shock as a learning opportunity, and benefit!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

I would typically wake up and grab some fruit from my host mom (who usually refused to let me leave without taking some sort of snack). I'd have about a 15 minute taxi ride to class (due to traffic), and then spend my day at the SIT building. The first class would start at 10, and at 12:15 we would go for an hour and a half long lunch before our final class. If it was a Friday, we would usually have a field visit to a local organization. Then, I'd go to a cafe with friends, maybe study, maybe play cards, and definitely smoke some hookah. Then I'd go home, eat some delicious dinner, watch TV with my host family, and go to sleep! During trips and weekends, things were a bit different, but that's an average day in an average week.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was definitely getting homesick and not getting along with my host family. I was very worried I'd feel like a stranger in my temporary home, and that would make me want to go home all the more.

I felt better almost immediately after meeting them. For one, most families have been doing this for years. They are happy you're with them, but I never felt like I was a strange, foreign object they had to constantly entertain. I quickly became part of the family, which meant that we could all sit around the living room watching tv, or I could go study in my room, and nothing felt uncomfortable or different. Their support helped prevent most homesickness. It was nice to have a family around when I was missing my own.

Not everyone gets along with their host family perfectly, but if things are truly bad, you could always switch.

What was your favorite part of your program?

I loved all the travel and all the wonderful friends I made, but I think most programs can give you that! With this program, however, I cannot say enough good things about the independent research project. When I interviewed for an internship after I got back home, the research project was the first thing they asked about. When I look at job or scholarship applications in my field, they always are looking for time spent living and researching abroad.

I learned so much about the research process, how to navigate academia in a foreign country, and even my own academic interests during my project! Because of what I was able to do, I always recommend SIT to people looking to study abroad. The staff was also an amazing help through the whole process. There was just enough assistance to feel comfortable without taking away the independent aspect.

More Interviews

Staff Interviews

Staff interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Eric Wirth

Nothing goes better with a cup of morning/afternoon/late night coffee than getting to know Eric Wirth, the director of admissions for SIT Study Abroad, and the culture of SIT Study Abroad a little bit better.
Mountain Watching

Tell me a little about yourself. What has been your career path so far?

My passion for education abroad began after spending a year abroad in Elche, Spain during my junior year of high school. I landed my first job after college as an admissions counselor for a study abroad provider. After several years in the work force, I returned to graduate school at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where I had the opportunity to serve for a year as the resident director to one of the university’s programs in Spain. After finishing my MA, I reentered the world of international education with greater knowledge and an enhanced perspective on higher education and learning abroad.

Did you study abroad after high school?

I’ve studied abroad a total of four times; once in high school, twice in college – one semester and one summer – and then for a year as a graduate student. Each time in Spain. Through each experience, I learned more and was able to take my level of cultural and linguistic understanding to a deeper level. I suspect one day I will work toward a doctorate, and I can guarantee I will study abroad again. My first instinct would be to return to Spain to delve back into the culture and languages I adore.

As for SIT, what are the core principles that you strive to achieve?

At our core, SIT Study Abroad programs foster academic rigor, intensive cultural immersion, substantial community involvement, and an emphasis on field-based research.

What does the future hold for SIT? Any new exciting programs to share?

This spring we are running two new programs in the Middle East: one in Egypt focusing on urban studies and the other in Morocco focused on journalism and new media. We have also launched a new summer program that explores traditional approaches to healthcare in India. We continually strive to provide our students with the most interesting and relevant coursework and locations.

And the future of the industry - how do you think study abroad and international education will change over the next 10 years?

We’ll see the usual demographic shifts in mobility as a response to global politics, world events and markets. What will be interesting to watch is how governments and individual institutions address these shifts to meet demand and capitalize on market share. My hope is that more and more we will learn to become better citizens of the world and will travel abroad because we crave learning and connection with one another. Talking to people around the world is increasingly easier, but meaningful communication and understanding remains a challenge.

I'm continuously impressed with the depth and variety of programs offered by SIT Study Abroad. Their emphasis on field base learning is especially intriguing, as well as their commitment to cultivating relationships locally in host areas. I sincerely admire and hope to echo their attitude for turning every experience into a learning experience!

Over the last 10 years working in the field of international education, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Cuba, Czech Republic, England, Greece and Serbia. There are many fascinating countries and continents with amazing things to teach us.

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