Latest Program Reviews

Over 300 Programs and more than 3,000 Reviews

Projects Abroad

I have just returned from my amazing Medical Mission trip to Mongolia and I would like to thank Projects Abroad. The trip was everything I hoped for, though a little surprising in some aspects, and your help enabling me to have this experience means a lot to me. From the very start, with my 36 hour “delay” and over night stay in Beijing, I knew this would be an interesting experience and a trip I would never forget.
Apparently Mongolia has certain wind drafts that make it difficult to land airplanes in the Chinggis Khan Airport, so flights from Beijing to Ulaan Baatar are frequently delayed. Fortunately for me, my flight originally scheduled for 7 am Saturday was delayed until 7pm the next day. This meant I was only a bus, airport train, and underground subway away from spending an entire day in Beijing. I was able to see the Temple of Heaven where emperors prayed each year to the heavens for a good harvest, Tiananmen Square , the Forbidden City, and the Lama Temple Buddhist Monastery…all without a visa for China. Having seen a city I never expected to visit on this trip, I was then ready to begin my two week mission in Mongolia.
I don’t really know how to start talking about Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia other than to say it was interesting. The first day I was there I saw Mercedes, Land Cruisers, BMW’s, Hummers, and Lexus cars that I never thought I would see in Mongolia, but the rundown, rusted apartment buildings the cars maneuvered through quickly assured me that I was indeed in the right place. However, the apartment I lived in was fairly nice and clean besides the fact it was on the 7th floor with no elevator and had some mold lining the stairway walls all the way up. I noticed this all my first day there and once I had a feeling of what the city looked like, I was ready to go to work in the hospitals.
With my previous experience I was able to help a lot, including removing sutures from a man’s eye. I was also able to observe many interesting things in various hospitals and clinics. To start, due to a lack of money, the Shastin’s State Hospital of Mongolia only has one Stryker drill for a neurosurgery department that has nearly ten surgeries every day. But as if this isn’t bad enough, the drill was broken. So the craniectomies I observed were either done with a hand saw, a hammer and chisel, or just cauterization through the skull. Once the surgeries were then completed, the skin flap was sutured closed directly over the brain tissue without a patch or other protective material. This is because a skull flap/patch costs about $800 in Mongolia, and the average annual salary is only about $1000. In addition to brain surgeries, I saw a tonsillectomy with only local anesthetic, many cholecystectomies, hernia repairs, heart surgery, vaginal births, a couple of c-section births, and a premature baby die helplessly on a table in front of me. I am very fortunate to have had so much experience at Little Co of Mary Hospital because that offered me many chances to make comparisons to western medicine/surgery that I would have otherwise been unaware of.
In addition to my medical work during the weeks, I went with several other volunteers and our supervisors to spend the night in a “ger” in the Terelj National Park on the weekend. The wide rivers, endless mountains, and actually fresh air (completely unlike Ulaan Baatar) was incredible and the whole trip would have been worth just going to this national park. We ate cooked beef with a nomad family for dinner in a ger, I got to ride a yak , and then at 4am the next morning me and another kid decided to climb on top of the biggest mountain for sunrise. We could see forever in every direction and after several hours of sitting on top, we returned to camp and then headed back to the city.
Overall, visiting both China and Mongolia made this an amazing trip and again I really want to thank you very much for helping me have this experience. I feel I have gained much insight into the ways of a completely different culture, lifestyle, and style of medicine very unlike our own, and I will carry this awareness forward with me as I embark on my life’s journey into the world of medicine.
Sincerely,
Alex Seyferth

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Mongolia
Posted: Sep 30, 2009
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
8

Comments

I am Alex's mother. When he was in CHina, he and many other passengers were taken by Air CHina to a hotel in Beijing because of the flight delay. He did not have a visa. Although he had no choice in this, I do not want him to get into trouble for having been in China outside the airport without a visa.

Intrax Study Abroad and AYUSA Study Abroad

Intrax did not look very deeply into the host families. I was put with a perverted host father and had to switch families. It took me a month to switch because the local coordinator was friends with my host family and I was given the blame for all our problems. My friend was told that she would be living with a widow, turned out the woman was divorced with three kids.

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Spain
Posted: Sep 30, 2009
Overall:
6
Support:
5
Value:
4

Comments

reply #1 -- look into other programmmsssss!!!!!!!!!!!
I would love to talk with you some more about your experience, as I am looking into it. Thanks

Projects Abroad

We signed up our son for a placement in Guadalajara Mexico. He is young and inexperienced, so we were very concerned about the type of placement. We were assured he would be in a supportive environment, with 20-40 other volunteers. When it came time to pay the balance, we were told his placement would be in a small town, 2 hours by bus from Guadalajara, and that there would be only 3 other volunteers. This was not what we agreed to. Despite repeated requests, PA has refused to return our deposit.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Mexico
Posted: Sep 29, 2009
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

Comments

I have had a similar experience with my 17 yr old daughter. She went to Costa Rica to volunteer in the rain forest conservation program. We also thought there would be plenty of other volunteers there. We were wrong. There were only 3. My daughter paid for a 2 month stay. After 6 weeks all the other volunteers had left and she was going to be all alone in a cabin in the jungle-2 hrs away from any city!. Needless to say I was NOT at all comfortable with that & called to see what could be done. They suggested she go stay w/ a host family in a nearby town called Liberia. I did not want her in someone elses home but agreed as I thought this was better than her being all alone. She called & said she just weanted to come home as this was not what she had signed on for initially. So, I changed her flight, paid the substantial change fee so she could come early. Project Abroad is unwilling to credit us back any money & simply stated that they can not guarantee that there will be other volunteeers at an assignment. Interesting that this is not clearly mentioned on the website or in any of the materials. I am a single mom who could hardly afford this trip for my daughter. This trip was her reward for working hard & graduating high school a year early. Some reward it turned out to be! On another note....they feed her rice & beans all three meals every day. Sometimes she had plantains & maybe an egg, salads were avail. & dinners would have some sort of meat which she said was unedible. (and she is no princess!) She bought her own fresh fruit & other food on the weekends when she was able to leave the rain forest. All in all we are very dissapointed in the experience & will not reccommend Project Abroad!

Global Crossroad

The experience I had volunteering for Global Crossroad far exceeded my expectations. My volunteer project was located outside Kampala, Uganda, for the duration of five weeks. I was given the opportunity to teach at school for disadvantaged children in a local village. Working with these children was absolutely the highlight of my experience. It gave me an accurate view of how children in these areas live and learn, along with allowing me to see a part of the world I would have never imagined being able to see. Being so far from anything I considered familiar can be intimidating, but the in-country staff provided me with a home away from home. The authentic African meals they cooked will be just one of the many things I will miss after returning to the States. My host family became just that, my family. I felt very welcomed and very safe. Considering the cost to go was rather affordable, my living arrangements were still very comfortable and my money stretched tremendously once entering their country. I would recommend anyone looking to change their own scenery and give of themselves in order to help others to volunteer in Uganda. It helped me so much to find a new ambition and new focus in brightening my own future as well.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Uganda
Posted: Sep 28, 2009
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

ISA - International Studies Abroad

The program in Barcelona is huge. There were a lot of Americans, and I agree with the previous review that it was hard to interact with locals. I also felt like a tourist even though I was living with a family. I would have appreciated more support from the people working there. For the most part they were really nice, I injured myself and they escorted me to the hospital and helped translate what the doctor was saying. However, I wish they had checked in with me about how my homestay was going because it did not go very well.

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Spain
Posted: Sep 27, 2009
Overall:
6
Support:
7
Value:
6

Comments

The program in Barcelona is huge and it is difficult to interact with and meet locals. I think difficulty in regards to meeting locals can be contributed to the homogenous nature of the Spanish people, at least in Barcelona. They experience increasing waves of tourist given the uniquness of the city and tend to keep to themselves. I traveled to Barcelona last semester through the ISA program and lived with a family during my program. The family was incredible and I learned more about the Spanish culture from them than I did interacting with lcoals on the streets or in nightclubs. The ISA staff was very helpful and provided invaluable information to help me establish myself in a foreign country, which tends to be tedious at first. I would recommend this program to anyone because regardless of how perceive the staff, living in a city like Barcelona while completing college courswork is an invaluable experience that you will treasure for a lifetime.

Pages