Kari Fictum is a UW senior who traveled to Peru in the summer of 2012. Kari visited Peru for a UW Archeology Field School, a Faculty-Led program. This is the same program that Jazlynn, another featured study abroad student, attended. Check out Jazlyn’s blog for specific details about the archaeological excavations.
Kari really enjoyed the field school and highly suggests that US students, “check out all of the different (faculty-led) course offerings.” Kari also wanted to remind US students that, “you don't have to be a student in a particular department to enjoy an international experience that department may be offering.”
When Kari was not in field school, her program offered optional trips to see local historical and ritual sites. Kari says she would, “highly recommend courses that also offer some additional opportunities to experience the local culture and important sites during ‘down time’, especially because trips are led by knowledgeable instructors who may be able to gain special access or discounts to some of these sites.”
Kari enjoyed the faculty-led program because such programs give students “a far different perspective than the average tourist.” However, one down side is that many students are not proficient in the host-country language. Kari said this was a challenge. In such cases she suggests travelling in a group with a competent language speaker and bringing a pocket dictionary. She also recommends, “paying close attention to the way that fluent speakers communicate with the locals so that you can learn basic communication skills, should you not have them with you in a future situation.”
One of Kari’s favorite memories was getting to know the other UW students who went on the faculty-led program. She said, “we were lucky enough to have a relatively small group of students so we relied on each other a lot and became fast friends. I have a lot of great memories of experiencing the trials and triumphs of living in a foreign place and working through a six week field school with some really great people who were also experiencing this for the first time.”
Travelling abroad can seem risky, but the rewards are well worth it. Take it from Kari who said, “many people are timid about travelling and living in a foreign country because they may not be going with people they know well, because of the remoteness of the location, or because the country may be in an unstable area of world. However you’ll make great friends during your time there and the instructors have your comfort and safety in mind as they plan the course and during your entire time in country. You are going to gain some great experiences if you can muster up the courage to go outside of your comfort zone!”