Life Changing Study Abroad in Costa Rica with AIFS May 15, 2019

By (Texas State University-San Marcos) - abroad from 01/05/2018 to 05/05/2018 with

AIFS: San José - Universidad Veritas and Internship Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned that I love to travel and I want to see more of the world. I learned to be grateful for the things that I have and the experiences I was able to have as well. I learned to live more authentically to who I am instead of who others want me to be. It was most certainly worthwhile.

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The AIFS staff is so amazing! They are so kind and patient with the students. They were always so ready to help and prepared for every situation.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved living with a host family, and there were also other study abroad students living in the same house. It was sweet to share the experience with them.

* Food:

Food was amazing. Rice and beans is their staple food, so if you don't like it, that is something to keep in mind.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt pretty integrated. Honestly, it is up to you how much you decide to integrate yourself. Costa Ricans are more than happy to welcome you in, you just have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone to be involved in the culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Luckily I did not have healthcare issues during my program. But I know several students that did and the AIFS staff were with them every step of the way. They took them to the hospital and was with the student to get the medicine they needed. Health care is included in the AIFS package, so students did not have to worry about that on the occasion that they got sick or hurt.

* Safety:

Living in San Jose felt as safe as living in a big city in the states. It didn't seem any less or more dangerous. We had security on motorcycles in our neighborhood that would patrol the neighborhood that we lived in and the university that we went to.

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

Studying abroad with AIFS gave me the best of both worlds: I had the freedom to do what I wanted and be independent, but also if I needed help, the staff was available to answer questions that I had so that I wasn't completely lost or feel alone in a foreign country.

Finances

* 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 say it was pretty easy. You just have to know how to budget well. Costa Rica is pretty much equally as expensive as Texas, at least. So I think if you know how to spend your money wisely in the states, you can do so abroad as well. It helps that 2 meals per day are included when you study abroad with AIFS.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? There are public buses that go practically everywhere in Costa Rica. So I would suggest planning your own trips versus paying a third party agency to plan your trip for you. And try not to eat out every day for lunch. the AIFS office has a kitchen in it for students to use. I used that most days and I'm sure I saved a lot of money from that in comparison with other students who bought food every day.

Language

* 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

I think for most students, one of the main purposes of studying abroad in Costa Rica was to improve their Spanish. So yes, it was encouraged.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
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? Spanish 2
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? Try not to speak English to the other students that are studying abroad there. I think I could have improved a lot more if I didn't use English so much.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* 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?
  • Living with host family
  • AIFS Staff in Costa Rica
  • Excursions
* What could be improved?
  • I wish we knew about volunteer opportunities earlier on.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That four months is not as long as you think, so figure out all the places in Costa Rica that you want to visit and plan accordingly.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.