Picking The Right Program: Why I chose IHP

Before I came to Bryn Mawr, I knew I wanted to study abroad. My sister had spent a semester abroad in Paris, and she said it was life-changing. Once study abroad applications were available, I needed to make a decision: which program was I going to choose?

Bryn Mawr has a variety of program partners and so many options for students to study abroad. When I first saw that huge list, I was attracted to programs that went to multiple destinations. I had never seen a study abroad program that went to more than one country before. Once I saw that one of the multi-destination programs had a public health approach, I was sold!

I am currently doing the IHP: Health and Community program. IHP is committed to providing its students with a dynamic experience. We are conducting a comparative analysis of health in India, South Africa, Brazil and the U.S. (which is why we did two weeks in D.C.) This program is social justice-oriented, and steers us away from having an ethnocentrist mentality during our visits. We’re coming in with a desire to understand how differently health is understood and experienced universally. I also loved the opportunity to focus on one subject through the case study. I knew this was the program for me because it would allow me to explore, and gain a better understanding of, my passions.

I tend to be a homebody and I’m not adventurous, so I love that IHP is driving me to visit different countries and experience different cultures. IHP has a tight-knit community with only 27 students in the program. We take all of our classes together, and each of us has a roommate for our homestays.

If these things sound interesting to you, I would definitely recommend this program! However, it can be far more rigorous than some study abroad programs; the schedules can be very packed; wifi can be hard to come by in these countries; and the time difference takes some getting used to.

When choosing a study abroad program, I strongly suggest you understand everything about the program, so here are a few of tips to help you prepare:

  • Attend the information sessions on campus
  • Talk to as many alumnae as possible about the program
  • Read the program’s website often

It’s just like applying to a college — you want to make sure you make the right decision for you!

Also, if you need any advice or have any questions about this program feel free to comment on this post or email me!


My home in SA

I have had the pleasure of living in Bo-Kaap for the past two weeks with a beautiful homestay family. Bo-Kaap is home to South Africa’s Muslim community. It is a visually stunning area of Cape Town which is always full of tourists taking pictures.

Fitting for the rainbow country

I had the absolute best homestay experience in Bo-Kaap. I was in a huge family with eight kids, and though they’re exhausting, they are so sweet and this experience is so rewarding. My house also was at the top of the hill which meant I had a beautiful view of the city.

I learned that you don’t have to choose between the city and the mountains!

I’m currently living near Bo-Kaap with my sister while on my one-week break, but I already miss it. Monday we leave for Brazil, and while I’m super excited for what’s to come, I am so sad to leave Cape Town. I know for sure that I will be coming back here whenever possible.

Climbing Mountains!


So an update on my adventures: I’ve been in Cape Town for two weeks, and I will have several posts with many pictures of my time here, but I wanted to dedicate just one post to the hiking I’ve been doing, because it’s a lot for this city girl!

The first mountain I climbed was in Muizenberg, and even though it was the smallest, it was the most physically draining because I took one of the hardest routes up. The view was so worth it though!

Muizenbergs’ hike

on top of a mountain!

Then, my sister (who is also a BMC alum) flew out to spend my vacation week with me in Cape Town. Our first hike together, and her first hike ever, was to the top of Lion’s Head. She realized her fear of heights throughout this journey, but we made it to the top nonetheless and the view was stunning!

Lion’s Head

Bryn Mawr women on top of Lion’s Head!

AND today we did Table Mountain! My sister was super scared of hiking again so we ended up taking the cable car up. But it was still such a cool experience. When you’re on top of Table Mountain, it feels like you’re in a cloud!

I used to hike in early high school and then I stopped, so I’m really glad I’ve had the opportunity to take up hiking again while abroad. Maybe I’ll keep it up in the future!

Touristy-Things in Cape Town

Though I like to act as least “touristy” as possible, there are so many cool things about Cape Town that just make the tourist in me jump out.

Now that I’m on break, I’ve been doing a lot more sight seeing. Below, I have pictures of different things I’ve done!

We went to Boulders Beach to see the penguins!

This is my sister at Cape of Good Hope (the southernest point of SA)

I’m always at the waterfront!

Boat ride off of the Waterfront! (Table Mountain in the background)

This is me when I took a tour of the University of Cape Town (which was beautiful and full of so many amazing students)

Me and my study-abroad friends at the Saturday market (which is super cool and should definitely be checked out by everyone visiting CT)

Left on our to-do list is Robben Island (where Mandela was held), hopefully paragliding, and lots of eating!!

My 2 Weeks in Zwelethembe

Hello everyone! I just got back to Muizenberg after two weeks in Zwelethembe, Worcester, South Africa. This was a rural area of South Africa, where we lived and did our studies to kick off the program. This township was specifically designed by the apartheid government for black Africans during apartheid. Today, it’s home to many people who I got the privilege to meet and live amongst. This township is tight-knit, and my homestay family and neighbors made these two weeks so beautiful. Every morning we were greeted by the kids playing in the street who also walked us home. They were so sweet!

Me and my roommate with our homestay mother

Zwelethembe had the most beautiful mountains and views. I was originally worried about being in a rural stay for two whole weeks because I’m so used to being in cities, but the community here is so warm and the environment is beautiful. IHP also kept us busy with classes and tons of site visits, so I was never bored.

My view every morning

Me in my classroom

I already miss Zwelethembe and my homestay mother. Maybe someday life will take me back to visit this sweet township!

I’m in South Africa!

I’ve been in South Africa for exactly seven hours now and it’s already been a beautiful experience. South Africa is one of the countries I am most excited to get to know. Cape Town has always seemed so beautiful and lively and full of history. On our flight here, our flight attendant took polaroid pictures of me and fellow Bryn Mawr student, Khadijah, framed them.

She even let us wear her hat!

We arrived to a beautiful hostel right by the beach in Muizenberg. The temperature was a perfect fall breeze and, although it rained on us, the sky made up for it with a rainbow.

me on the beach in Muizenberg

the view from outside of the airport

Since we’re exhausted from our 12 hour long travel itinerary, we haven’t done much but take a walk around the beach and see what’s in town. Tomorrow, our schedule starts getting packed and on Wednesday we leave for a two-week rural stay in Zwelethembe.

The idea behind the rural stays in our program is to have a better sense of the diversity of experiences that exist in each of the countries we visit. This will be our longest rural stay and the only one that we’ll have a homestay family in. I’m writing a blog soon about homestays and what they’re like and how to decide if they’re the right option for you as opposed to living in dorms!

I’ll keep you all posted on what I’m up to in South Africa for the next four weeks!


Saying Goodbye to India!

Sunday, September 24 was our final day in New Delhi, as we were going off to our second country, Cape Town, South Africa! It was so bittersweet to leave India. Though I was excited to move on to the next country where I would deal with less humidity and would have a beach near me, I was sad to see India go. I had just developed a sense of comfort in this country, after some of culture shock and acclimating. I finally had my transportation and communication skills down to be able to navigate on my own. But just as that comfort set in, we had to move to another country. IHP loves to keep you on your toes!

This is a goodbye post to the beautiful and authentic parts of India that I had the privilege of seeing!

Goodbye to auto rickshaw drives

Goodbye to the traditional Indian breakfast, Chila

My time in India felt so short and I wish I could have seen more and shared more experiences with you all! But, I am so excited to meet South Africa and Brazil and share those experiences with you!

I’m Abroad!

This is my first time blogging outside of Bryn Mawr, and I’m more than 7,000 miles away!

I’m in New Delhi with one of Bryn Mawr’s study abroad partners, SIT. My program is a multi-country public health program and is taking me to India, South Africa, and Brazil.

So far, I’ve spent three weeks in India, and I’ve been able to see the metropolitan New Delhi, the rural Bahraich, and the infamous Agra (home to the Taj Mahal).

Our schedule is packed and wifi is very spotty, so that’s why I haven’t been inundating you all with blog posts. But so far, this abroad experience is amazing! Since my program is public health-focused, I’ve been able to really dive deep into issues that I’m passionate about. I’m doing a case study project on mental health and I’m looking at the most prominent mental health issues in each country and doing a comparative analysis of what that looks like. I’m hoping that the work I do this semester will be able to translate to Bryn Mawr/Philly, and I will have an opportunity to participate in a project or volunteer in something that relates.

This Sunday I will be leaving India (sadly), but going to South Africa!! We will spend two weeks in rural Zwelethembe, and then three weeks in urban Bo-Kaap. I am so excited to see what awaits me in South Africa, and to share new posts and pictures!

If you’re a current undergraduate interested in studying abroad, keep in touch with my blog as I will make posts giving tips on how to choose the right program, how to apply, how to deal with culture shock/homesickness, and more! If you’re not an undergrad interested in studying abroad, keep in contact with my blog for cool pictures of these beautiful countries!

me and Lachmi the elephant (who I was able to ride on!!)

me in front of the Taj

me and fellow class of 2019, public health major, Khadijah

Humayans Tomb

My Sister on the Campus News!

Today, while casually checking my email, I saw a very familiar name! “Jomaira Salas Pujols is awarded a National Science Foundation fellowship for graduate research.”

That’s my sister!!!!

Jomaira graduated from Bryn Mawr in 2013 with a sociology major. Right now she’s getting her PhD in Sociology at Rutgers University and she has the beautiful privilege of being awarded the NSF fellowship for her research.

(Also to her defense this picture is 6 years old and does her no justice.)

Jomi is such a passionate person. If you ask her about what she studies, she could go on for hours about her work and why it’s important and how she wants to change the world. My sister does it all!! She’s a Posse scholar, a Mellon Mays fellow, a PhD student, a Bryn Mawr trustee, a revolutionary, and now an NSF fellow.

I know she always talks about how Posse and Bryn Mawr and awesome mentors helped her get to where she is today. I love seeing my sister succeed and get the recognition she deserves.

Cheers for powerful Bryn Mawr women!

Boston University Visit

Last Monday Boston University’s school of Public Health payed a visit to campus. A representative was here to talk to students about future opportunities at the school.

Having recently declared my independent major in public health, I went to the event to learn more about what I can do after graduating Bryn Mawr.

The representative talked about what you could do with a degree in Public Health an helped me figure out what my options are. After that event, I think my interests tend to lie in community health/wellbeing, health communication, and health services areas. There are so many different things you can do with public health, but I am generally interested in people-centered work and addressing health disparities.

I also learned about other degree options besides a masters in public health. I’ll continue to look into a masters in health services and systems research, a masters in public health nutrition, and even doctoral programs in public health.

Going to this event reminded me of my junior and senior year of high school when I was researching colleges and falling in love with Bryn Mawr. I loved that time because I was able to do a lot of organizing and planning, which I have a weird fascination with for some reason. It also makes me super excited to start planning towards my future for after Bryn Mawr.

Oh, the places we’ll go!