The second of many adventures abroad Past Review

By (Biology and Biomedical Sciences, Berea College) - abroad from 09/26/2015 to 12/19/2015 with

AIFS: San José - Universidad Veritas and Internship Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Friendships. An improvement in my spoken and written Spanish. Permaculture and off-grid living experience. Herbal remedies to disease. A confidence to return and to travel throughout other foreign countries.

Review Photos

AIFS: San José - Universidad Veritas Photo AIFS: San José - Universidad Veritas Photo AIFS: San José - Universidad Veritas Photo AIFS: San José - Universidad Veritas Photo AIFS: San José - Universidad Veritas Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I feel that for the price we paid as students abroad, the university could have provided more materials for us in our classes in regards to the reading material and the projects. For instance, I only received one textbook for one class out of four total that I was taking (we were provided with some reading material online through scannings, but it would have been more helpful to have hard copies with concise info), and sometimes the projects required specific material that was either difficult to find or expensive to purchase. My classes were relatively difficult, which I appreciated, but at least one was not nearly as informative or organized as I would have liked (especially considering my interest in the subject).

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I found the administrators of my program to be very organized and professional yet approachable and helpful if I had any questions or needed guidance on a particular matter. I frequently spent time at the office of my program's administration to study or practice my Spanish-speaking skills.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was very satisfied! I lived with a host family and had no roommates, and this living situation was ideal for me because I was "forced" to practice the native language daily and also was less distracted when it came time to study in the evenings. My host family prepared delicious meals that accommodated my needs as a vegan, and the house was always kept clean.

* Food:

I was able to find fresh, healthy food in most places I visited.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I made it a priority to get to know the locals, so I spent time practicing my Spanish-speaking skills with multiple native speakers. Thankfully, I formed friendships along the way. I also spent some time learning Salsa Dance and attended some ballets at the National Theater.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not need to utilize modern health care while I was there, so I do not have an opinion on it. I did, though, have access to herbal medicine while I was there which I took for a cough, and it seemed to relieve it a little.

* Safety:

Unfortunately, the city I stayed in was not very safe, and students were advised to NEVER walk home alone. There were multiple incidences, occurring both during daytime and nighttime, where students were robbed or host families were held to gun-point. This is not to say it happened all the time, but it did happen. Fortunately, I did not encounter any of these situations.

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

Perhaps. They offered classes that interested me and met my home institution's academic requirements, but as I mentioned earlier not all of the classes met my expectations. Looking in hindsight, though, I could perhaps choose different, more challenging classes with locals in the native language if given a second chance. A couple reasons I would be drawn to study with this program again is because of the kind and helpful administration and the excursion opportunities through my program and the university itself.


* 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)

Once I became accustomed to the local food markets and stores and narrowed down which activities I wanted to participate in most, I was able to budget fairly well without struggling.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100, approximately, but it fluctuated both up and down depending on the week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Seek out local farmer's markets and prepare your own food when possible. Only buy things that have sentimental value and/or are useful from local artisans -- beware of cheap souvenir items for sale because the cost adds up quickly.


* 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

Both the administration of my program and the university itself used Spanish as the primary 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? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Intermediate Grammar - 310
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? Step out of your comfort zone and make it a priority to engage with the locals. Spend time with them outside of class to practice the conversational language skills. This was the most helpful aspect of my language-learning experience.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • 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?
  • Excursions to natural phenomena
  • Administration
  • Diversity of class offerings
* What could be improved?
  • Textbooks for classes
  • Difficulty of classes/more-experienced instructors
  • Greater access to resources for class
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? How easy it would be to become involved in the volunteer opportunity to teach natives English