A fun time but little language improvement Past Review

By (Accounting/International Business, Drake University) - abroad from 01/08/2012 to 05/05/2012 with

AIFS: San José - Universidad Veritas and Internship Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a new family. I will definitely visit them in the future. This program was worthwhile and I loved every day of it.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes were not difficult compared to the classes at my home university. Spanish classes are what I got the most out of. The spanish teachers taught so that everyone could understand, but make sure you're placed in the correct level! While the homework for electives did take a long time, the classes were easy and each science class goes on really cool field trips!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The resident director did a good job of setting up programs for us and made sure we did all the "touristy" things while we were in Costa Rica, but at times acted unprofessional (Some of it had to do with the country's different values than USA's). I was there during her last semester, however, and now there is a new director.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host family was the best part of my experience in Costa Rica. AIFS truly matches you up with the best of the best. Although it might not be what you're used to back home, the living conditions are comfortable and the families are welcoming.

* Food:

Costa Rican food is delicious and my host mom was an amazing chef! You will eat a lot of rice and beans during your time in Costa Rica. I'm not a huge rice and beans fan, but I enjoyed every meal I had while I was in Costa Rica. Also, be sure to eat lots of fresh produce (pineapple, avocados, and local oranges are the best).

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

AIFS does a good job of making you feel safe, but this program makes it difficult to integrate into the local culture. If your mission is to make lots of local friends, then you really have to make an effort and put yourself out there.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not have any personal issues that required healthcare while I was in Costa Rica, but I knew a few people who did. They told me that they were treated promptly and there no issues that came up. Just a sidenote, stay hydrated while living in Costa Rica. Most of the tap water is safe to drink, and bottled water is inexpensive.

* Safety:

Walking by yourself during the day is fine but you should still use caution for pick pocketers. Never walk by yourself at night, however. Taxis are very safe in San Jose, and they will take you wherever you need to go for a reasonable price.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

I would rate this program with a 2.5. It all depends on what you want to do while you're in the country. AIFS offers great programs that are included in the program, but you'll have 5-10 free weekends depending on the length of your stay. Most kids travel. On average, I'd say I spent about $100/week. (Spending money on American brands of food also cost me a lot of money...It's a mistake! You can buy lots of fresher food for much less)

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Like I said, try not to buy American brand foods. Pali is a great place to shop for toiletries and food. Stay in hostels when you travel on weekends (They're very safe and fun). Also, try walking or taking the city bus when you don't HAVE to take a taxi. You'll save a lot of money that way.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

We did not have to use the language in our elective classes, and we did not have to speak Spanish when we went on group outings/trips. We also did not have to speak Spanish with our housemates, but we did have to speak Spanish with our host families. All in all, I wish there had been more encouragement to speak the language.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Intermediate 2 at college level
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Engage in activities with your host family. Ask them questions. Make friends with locals.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Host Family
  • Food
  • Costa Rican BEACHES!
* What could be improved?
  • Resident Director
  • Encouragement to speak Spanish
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I would've known that I wasn't going to be pushed to speak Spanish.