I almost never left Costa Rica Past Review

By (Biology and Spanish, Saint Michael's College) - abroad from 01/04/2015 to 05/01/2015 with

AIFS: San José - Universidad Veritas and Internship Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned who I really am. Being away from the place that I was so comfortable with allowed me to open up, mature, and notice how thirsty I am to learn even more abut myself. I became more outgoing, adventurous, aware, mature, grateful, and most of all to notice that I will never stop growing.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Most of my classes required as much attention and focus as my classes here in the United States. The Spanish classes were challenging to a point that I was still learning but it was not an easy class. They offered very particular classes like Spanish for Health Professions where we were taught how to correctly speak to patients in Spanish learned about the health systems and certain processes in Spanish as well. I was ably to take a Tropical Marine Biology class where what I learned in class was applied hands-on when we went snorkeling and wandering intertidal zones in the ocean. Overall, the classes were special and something not offered here at Saint Mike's but were still challenging enough for me to learn something new everyday.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The on-sight administration was always there if we needed anything at all. They provided a lot of information about safety and how to handle ourselves in situations when we were on our own and not with the leaders at that time.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I absolutely loved being in a homestay as a living arrangement because becoming part of a family allows you to become much more immersed in the culture and to have an experience that has so much more meaning. My family welcomed me with open arms and was always there for me every step of the way. I still talk to my family and am waiting for my next opportunity to go back and visit.

* Food:

I absolutely loved the food in Costa Rica. I am not a picky eater so that could be part of the reason why I loved everything but I was always trying something new and it very rarely did not satisfy my taste buds. My favorite part of the day was always dinner, a time when I sat down with my host family, said grace in Spanish, and made my stomach full of my Mama Tica's home cooking. They also were always making sure that we more than plenty enough food to eat and if there was a certain food we did not like they would stay away from that. One thing I truly miss is my Mama Tica's cooking.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

AIFS provided us with information about cultural opportunities every week and living in a homestay immersed me immensely in the local culture. Costa Rica is a place that prides itself on its Pura Vida culture and I feel I was able to soak in as much of the cultural as possible with the help from my professors, host family, and AIFS staff.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Luckily, I only got sick once while I was abroad. However other people that had serious health issues were taken care of immediately and with good quality care. The health system is different in Costa Rica than in the United States but everyone was always given immediate attention when their health was at question.

* Safety:

Just like being in any city, there are the dangers. Common sense is a big part of maturing while studying abroad. Just as you do not walk alone at night in the middle of a large city, there is no exception for Costa Rica.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* 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)

Costa Rica is a place where much that is sold is grown there. The fruits and vegetables are all fresh and are much cheaper than here in the U.S. Also, cultural activities were made very affordable by AIFS and traveling on our own was also affordable due to staying in hostels (which were very safe) and being able to make our own food in the hostel kitchens. Since these components were very affordable there was always some cushion money for being able to do fun activities that costed a little more.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I did not spend much money on food because we always ate with our family during the week for breakfast and dinner. If I had to guess I would say about $50 on food and depending if I traveled I would spend more.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? YES! Fundraise and don't be afraid to do a fundme page online to spread the word about your desire to study abroad.


* 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

Yes, we were always encouraged to speak Spanish. It is the official language so Spanish was always spoken in the house, in classes that were taught in spanish, and in any opportunity in the community or to locals was spoken in Spanish. My speaking skills improved greatly due to this.

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? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Spanish Literary Studies
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? Simply keep reviewing old notebooks and the verb tenses and maybe even some more vocabulary. Doing more will never hurt you.

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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • everything was so affordable
  • I love how everything was included (tuition, housing, meal plan, cultural excursions)
* What could be improved?
  • more cultural activities could be included always
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I planned on staying there for the Summer instead of coming home right after the semester. I regret not looking at more opportunities in how I could stay longer and get more out of the country while I had time.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!