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Frequently Asked Questions

Guatemalan WomanWhy is an international experience important?


The Association of International Educators reports that almost 40% of companies missed international business opportunities because they lacked internationally competent employees, yet only 1.5% of all U.S. students had participated in education abroad in 2014-2015 (NAFSA, 2017). International education abroad and service learning opportunities produce outcomes and benefits that are otherwise difficult to achieve by helping you step outside your comfort zone. Going outside your comfort zone leads to: a) realizing untapped knowledge and resources by being challenged in an unfamiliar environment, b) taking risks that results in growth experiences, c) expanding your comfort zone to be open to new and unknown situations, and d) learning to deal with change in positive ways. All of these benefits have potential to be life transforming for you (Brenner, 2015). Numerous benefits for you in projects abroad include: personal growth, ethical and moral development, professional development, career influence, increased cultural awareness, cross-cultural and international skill development, broadened worldview, appreciation for traditional skills/knowledge of the host country, increased awareness of community engagement through socially responsible approaches, and valuing international/multidisciplinary collaboration and work. (Sherraden, Lough, & Bopp, 2013).

Undergraduate programs in public health nutrition, dietetics, and pre-health sciences are ones that naturally fit in an international model of need and understanding. The Department of Food, Nutrion, Dietetics and Health has developed an education abroad opportunity that focuses on health, well-being, and social education, and provides a lowcost, safe environment for service learning. We strongly desire to increase opportunities for our students to operate within the political and economic landscape of the 21st century by providing opportunity for international experience.

Who can go?


Our focus will be on Food, Nutrion, Dietetics and Health students with junior and senior status , however, any College of Health and Human Sciences student may also apply and will benefit from the program.  Preference will be given to upperclassmen. All students who desire to participate during the academic year should consult with their respective advisor and their department about enrolling in online-only courses or receiving permission to participate in on-campus courses via distance. Participating students will be gone for approximately 6-16 weeks, using distance technology, while enrolled in other courses as a student.

Is it safe?


Panajachel, Guatemala has a low crime rate. This area has a high amount of tourism which brings in a large amount of revenue to the locals. Standard precautions such as guarding against pickpockets are recommended.

Before you go, you will also need to schedule an appointment at Lafene Health Center for their Travel Clinic. Your Travel Clinic visit will not only cover what immunizations you need, but will also address travel safety, current political conditions, and road & travel conditions.

Also check out the Education Abroad Office's Health and Safety Abroad webpage which will walk you through all the steps you will need to take to ensure your safety prior to departure. You will be required to purchase International Health Insurance. View the summary of benefits here. The cost of coverage is $8.92 per week (any 7 day period).

How much is it going to cost?


Current round trip airline prices are $800-900 and round trip transportation to and from Panajachel would be $50-80 depending on the number using a vehicle.

Approximate cost of living is $300 per month which includes:

  • Housing: $100-150 month and includes utilities.
  • Food ~$100 month which includes some restaurant meals.
  • $50 for miscellaneous.

Please be aware that the cost of living will vary depending on the program with which you are working. There may be additional fees based upon the program you are with. 

Where will I live?


FNDH has arranged for a program manager who will be responsible for student activities in Panajachel, including housing arrangements. Students may rent apartments or live with Mayan families. The program manager will screen and recommend all housing options prior to students arriving.

What are options for meals?


You can purchase meals at restaurants or utilize the markets to purchase your own food to prepare at home. Food costs are very reasonable in the Lake Atitlan region. You will be instructed on safe handling of local foods by the program manager.

What does the Guatemala program manager do?


The Guatemala program will have a Program Manager who is responsible for the day-to-day management of this residential education abroad program. The Program Manager is responsible for the oversight and for providing support in terms of the health and welfare of the K-State students living, learning, and serving in the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala. The Program Manager performs a range of duties to support and enhance the program and your experiences. The Program Manager will maintain a calendar of activities including student arrivals/departures, program activities, housing placements and cultural activities. Additionally, the Program Manager will advise and assist students on a broad range of personal, social, and academic issues.

In general, you will be expected to provide your own local transportation (walking is easy and local "tuk tuks" are inexpensive and widely available), but for transportation to further destinations and especially where locals only speak the Mayan language, the Program Manager will coordinate transportation assistants who also serve as translators

Do I need a visa?


You will not need a visa, but you will need a passport. However, this may be changing so we will update this FAQ accordingly. Check out the Education Abroad Office’s website on Passports.

Do I need to speak Spanish?


Basic (conversational) Spanish language ability is required. If you currently do not speak Spanish, you can work with us on acquiring basic language skills prior to your departure.  Our partner, Jabel Tinamet school offers low-cost distance Spanish classes, you can check out a mobile app like Duolingo, or consider enrolling in a K-State Spanish course.

How do I keep up with classes while I am away?


All students who desire to participate during the academic year should consult with their respective advisor and their department about enrolling in online-only courses or receiving permission to participate in on-campus courses via distance. You will work with your individual instructors to determine a plan for meeting course requirements. Students will have access to internet in order to log into courses and communicate with instructors.

How do I apply?


An application portal will be available on this website starting in January 2018. However, if you plan on applying for this experience, please enroll in the International Service Learning class (FNDH 499) that is required before you can leave for Guatemala.

Is there funding available?


There are many options for funding your education abroad experience including scholarships and Federal financial aid. Please see the Education Abroad Scholarships page for more information about the Office of International Programs scholarships as well as other University and National scholarships. For more information about eligible programs and how to receive aid, please follow the Financial Aid page for more information.

To encourage participation and provide partial financial support for student experiences in other countries, the College of Health and Human Sciences offers several travel scholarships on a competitive basis. Students considering group study tours, summer study programs and semester abroad programs are eligible to apply.

Several scholarship funds have been established to support College of Human Ecology students who study abroad. To apply for these scholarships, complete the application (.docx) and send a hard copy and resume to the College of Health and Human Sciences dean's office in 119 Justin Hall. The Diversity and International Committee reviews the applications and announces the scholarship awards