I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I love food. All kinds of food – Italian, Mexican, Japanese, Indian, Chinese – it’s all delicious to me, and the food in Panama is a unique combination of the local superfoods growing in the region and the fresh seafood fished out of the sea. The food is some of the freshest food I’ve ever had – they catch the fish that day and fry it, serving it with fresh coconut rice and locally picked plantains and beans along with tomato and greens salad. The fruits are also full of life and color, and they grow everywhere. It is so rewarding to shake down your own papaya or mango from a tree and then eat it right there. The food is flavorful, fresh, local, and above all it’s healthy and full of nutrients. Studying in Panama is a great way to expand your pallet.
If you’re looking for a culture shock, Panama is a good place to start. There is some American influence on the culture in Panama City especially, but Panama has its own charm that can’t be found elsewhere. The bustling town life paired with the relaxed “good vibes” culture is a blend that is very different from what you might be used to. The culture is different enough to get the popular culture shock that international travel entails, yet there are also familiar practices here that provide comfort. So far I’ve enjoyed Panamanian culture very much.
The environment in Panama is a mix of rolling hills covered in lush green forest and sandy coastline. In Bocas particularly, the blend of forest-covered islands, mangrove islands, and clear greenish blue water creates scenery most people would classify as “paradise”. The change in scenery compared to back home in the States is stark and refreshing. It’s nice to live in a town where people take boats and bikes to get around, and where each building stands out with its vivid color and shape. The old buildings with the creaky and colorful wood have a certain charm that I have never found anywhere else. My only complaint is that I don’t have more time here!
There are a lot of stereotypes about Americans that affect how people from foreign countries perceive and act around us. In Panama, I have not been met with a lot of contempt because I am from the States. People are friendly and happy to talk to you, and the majority knows some level of English, making it very easy on those who don’t speak Spanish. Many people who run businesses are patient, greeting you with a smile and waiting as you attempt to ask questions in Spanish. It’s nice to spend time in an environment where the people not only are friendly but seem to genuinely enjoy your presence.
5. Variety of Activities
In Panama there is no shortage of activities. Whether it is ziplining through the forest canopy, rafting in the cloud forest, surfing above a coral reef, or walking through Casco Viejo and learning the history behind the old buildings, there is something for everyone in Panama. As well as the surplus of activities, all the guides are friendly and a great pleasure to talk to.
Panama has just about everything you could ask for: rainforest, wildlife, beaches, history, good food, and good people. Knowing all this the question becomes, what better place is there to study abroad than in Panama?