Study Abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica: An Opportunity to Step Out of My Comfort Zone Past Review

By (Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication., Drake University) for

AIFS: San José - Universidad Veritas and Internship Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about myself from this trip, that was the biggest thing I got out of the experience. I learned what kinds of people I wanted to spend time with, what I feel comfortable with and how to step out of my comfort zone. I did a lot of things I would have never done if I was in the US.

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 workload for my elective classes was not much. We had reading assignments frequently and final projects in all the classes. My spanish classes were the most work, especially when I got to Intermediate 2. That class had homework everyday and it wasn't just simple worksheets. Often it was short writing assignments or presentations. The nice thing about the the course load was that the elective classes rarely gave out homework but the Spanish classes did so it was fairly easy to manage everything and still have fun. The spanish classes were the only thing that compared in difficulty and workload to my home university in the US.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Strengths: If I had questions I could always come to them and ask. It was easy to contact them. I knew my program director really well. She took us on trips as a program. She was very accessible. Weakness: Sometimes the program was a bit disorganized. Things weren't planned out far enough in advance. It wasn't too big of a problem though.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My home stay family provided me with everything. My family gave me breakfast and dinner every day, including lunches at times. They gave me more than enough food. They provided me with my own room, with sheets and towels. My host mom did my laundry weekly. The neighborhood's safety was an issue at times. My host family and school professors told me that it wasn't safe to walk around at night by yourself. It wasn't too bad, but I did feel restricted at times. My house was a five minute walk away from the school.

* Food:

My host family accommodated to my roommates dietary needs just fine. It's easy for anyone with dietary restrictions to get by in Costa Rica.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Whitewater rafting trip.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Petty theft was common in my host city. My school administration, advisor, host family and professors all told me several times to be careful and gave me ways to stay safe. Just be cautious and travel in groups. Don't show off your valuables in the city area. Use your camera and then put it away quickly.

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)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Be frugal. Be careful the first two weeks you get there, that's when I went over the budget.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
Language acquisition improvement?

I took two spanish courses at the university. Both professors were natives to the country and the classes were small. My first, and biggest spanish class had 10 people in it, which included myself. I also lived with a host family while I was there. They didn't speak English with me, only Spanish. My host mom didn't even know English. My american friends did speak English, but there were select few who tried to speak Spanish all the time. They were the only ones I spoke English with.

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Hotel
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Trips
  • Spanish Classes
  • Homestay family
* What could be improved?
  • Organization of events
  • More structure and fluid information regarding course registration