Life Changing. I am prouder to be ME than ever before Past Review

By (University of Memphis) - abroad from 09/26/2015 to 12/19/2015 with

CEA CAPA Education Abroad: San Jose, Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained courage, knowledge, and a sense of self I've never had. I am confident and proud of myself for the first time. I feel capable and empowered because of what I've done here.

Review Photos

CEA: San Jose, Costa Rica Photo CEA: San Jose, Costa Rica Photo CEA: San Jose, Costa Rica Photo CEA: San Jose, Costa Rica Photo CEA: San Jose, Costa Rica Photo

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.

I put 50 because Spanish is the only Extremely Vigorous course I had. With it being 4 hours a day, a lot of studying, and homework it can get pretty stressful, but I learned more in a month of one Spanish course than in 2 years of high school Spanish! The other classes I had were challenging to a different degree. They were mentally enriching and forced me to think critically, speak up, participate, have creativity, and interact with others in a classroom environment I have never gotten to experience.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I got very close with Maggie and Leo. They are basically my favorite people in the world. There was never a time when they weren't completely helpful. They were so down to Earth and on our level, that I never felt intimidated to go to them. They helped me pick out classes, plan trips, and were there even for the most random things. I will miss them so much when I leave! I wish the staff at my University were as amazing as them...

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I know for a fact that we had the BEST house and host family. They seriously took us in as their own. They were helpful and caring at all times. They invited us to family events, took us out, and became just like my family at home. I know that when I leave it will not be goodbye, because they have earned a place in my heart forever.

* Food:

Our mom is the best cook EVER!!! She made us some cultural dishes, but unlike other houses, we had a variety. Every day was something so wonderful! There was always plenty too! We even had one girl with gluten and dairy allergies, and she gladly made separate portions for her.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt integrated, but in a different way than others. Most people went out to bars and hung out with other Americans doing typical college kid stuff. My roommate and I went downtown, rode the bus, traveled, went to local restaurants, and spent time with our host family. I tried local foods and my family even bought me a Christmas CD with typical Costa Rican songs on it, because Christmas is my favorite holiday. I felt like I could have may be done some more traveling and went to the dance classes, but I didn't have the energy a lot of the time. I felt like my brain was on constant hyper-drive to keep up with the language and all my classes.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

At one point, I thought one of my medical issues was going to be a problem because I was having flare ups of symptoms. When I told our Program Director, she was wonderful. Completely supporting of my want to go to the doctor.

* Safety:

San Jose is as safe as any other place... It's how smart you are that depends on how the crime will affect you. Listen to all the advice that the program gives you and you'll be fine... Don't walk alone at night and I always carried pepper spray just as a precaution.

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)

I don't know how much I spent weekly, but I know lunch ranges anywhere from $4-$12 a day. The trips were the expensive part. If you really want to have a cultural experience, you need to travel, but that wipes out your account very quickly.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Less than $100. Probably more like $50 or less. I found that it was actually cheaper to eat out every day rather than go get groceries. It was so expensive to get food and cook because things are jsut so expensive. Also getting groceries is very inconvenient because you have to walk pretty far.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Spend the extra money on another suitcase and bring any clothes you might need. I know people say to pack light, but you get tired of wearing the same things and also as the weather changes from wet season to dry, it gets chillier so the shorts don't work so great anymore. It's better to just bring the extra stuff. One of everything. Or you'll end up spending money at the mall that you could use to travel. Also, bring snacks from home-your comfort foods because most likely you won't be able to find them here, and if you do, they are SO expensive. Also if you can spare the pounds, brings all your toiletries because they are also expensive here, and they didn't have my brands.


* 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

everyone told me to speak in Spanish, and I did, but just not as much as everyone else. That part really stressed me out and I couldn't handle it with all the other culture shock stress, But I learned a lot of Spanish still! I can make my way around independently.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
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? high school
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? You should try to learn as much as possible before you leave. It will make you feel more confident and not as stressed when you get here. Having limited Spanish skills coming here, made me miss out on things because I was afraid to go out where I would have to communicate. It's embarrassing when everyone can speak and understand and you're one of the only ones who doesn't know what's going on. Every little bit helps, so even if you're not a novice, just learn what you can. When I came, I didn't care about learning Spanish, but I promise you that when you leave, you will fall in love with Spanish and there will never be enough of learning it. It's empowering to be able to speak to someone else in a different language and I wish I had another three months so I could keep learning.

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
  • International Students
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?
  • My Family
  • Program employees (Maggie and Leo)
  • Traveling
* What could be improved?
  • More excursions
  • More volunteering from the begining
  • Two or more activities a month fro students at CEA instead of one. I felt like I lost touch with the others by the end because Spanish was over we never had the same class scedules.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Study more Spanish Bring lots of money Bring toiletries from home Spanish English Dictionary Portable Charger for long bus rides when you travel Pepper Spray Practice with the Money Some cultural things (at restaurants, they don't bring you the check, you have to ask for it)

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Intermediate Spanish for Health Care

Course Department: Spanish
Instructor: Ismene
Instruction Language: Spanish
Credit Transfer Issues: