Journey to true Pura Vida! Past Review

By (Biology, University of Memphis) - abroad from 09/27/2014 to 12/20/2014 with

CEA CAPA Education Abroad: San Jose, Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
More than I can name! I became so much more independent. My semester abroad in CR also helped me become an even more confident and improved version of myself. My spanish improved tremendously, and I use the medical spanish that I learned at my pediatric clinic job everyday. I also gained life long friends and so many special memories!

Review Photos

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.

Universidad Veritas and the classes that the university offers are amazing! The professors created an environment that allowed for leadership in the classroom along with hands-on/ interactive assignments.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The onsite staff for CEA San José is truly amazing. Both Maggie and Leo are beautiful individuals that both have a passion for assisting every student that ventures to CR. They were able to help with school related questions as well as questions about travel within San José and around/ outside the country.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I chose to live in a homestay; It was the best decision! I had an amazing familia tica (Costa Rican family). They went out of their way to make my roomates and I feel welcome. The home itself was beautiful and only a 10-minute walk from Universidad Veritas.

* Food:

I loooved the food in Costa Rica! My host mom was an amazing cook; She cooked most of our meals from scratch. Gallo pinto (traditional, flavorful Tico dish of beans and rice) became a favorite of mine. I also was able to frequent restaurants in Zapote for lunch-lovely variety and great prices. The availability and sweetness of the fresh fruit is truly unmatched; Unlike here in the states, fruit is cheap!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Costa Rica truly felt like home by the end of my semester there. Universidad Veritas has different events and classes throughout the semester to promote tico culture. I also volunteered while I was there.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did get sick while I was there,and the healthcare was great. I would say that the private hospital that we as international students are directed to is comparable to what you can receive in the states. Health insurance is included within the program; some visits are on a reimbursement basis, so having a credit card to charge fees to was helpful. Check the cdc website for vaccines.

* Safety:

I never felt that I was in danger while I lived in San José. I was able to travel downtown to Avenida Central and the Childrens' Hospital via city bus without any hassle on a weekly basis. Universidad Veritas provides transportation to and from school; I would advise students to take advantage of the bus (especially if you participate in the free tropical dance class, which doesn't end until around 8pm). It important to be aware of your surroundings and take the advice/ tips that CEA and university staff give.

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

I have no regrets! Studying abroad in Costa Rica through CEA was amazing and truly life-changing. My experience would not have been the same without Leo, Maggie, and my host family.


* 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)

Though I did not really keep a weekly budget, it was extremely easy not to spend much money. Buying lunch was the only expense that you have on a daily basis. Most of the money I spent was related to traveling around the country (so worth it).

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Walk, walk, walk! San José is a pedestrian friendly city. Try taking the bus instead of a taxi if the distance is further (it's like less than 50 cents/route). I would also say that CEA students should take advantage of the access to kitchen and fridge at the CEA office; though restaurants have great prices, eating out adds up. Cooking your own lunch will save you sooo much money.


* 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

CEA sets up language exchange events with tico students. Leo and Maggie also pushed us to use spanish during excursions and while we hung out at the CEA office.

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? SPAN 2010: Intermediate I
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? I would advise students to start trying to speak spanish more and more before they leave home. Practice phrases while you do your usual routine: shopping at the grocery store, asking prices, ordering at a restaurant,etc. Challenge yourself to spend time with your host family and only speak spanish. Additionally, I realized that a lot of the taxi drivers are surprisingly good spanish teachers as they interact with international students/travelers often.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
  • 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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Comprehensive: I did not have to worry about anything except packing and spending money
  • Truly caring staff at CEA and Veritas
  • Amazing ability to match host families and students
* What could be improved?
  • Coordination of transportation to the airport at the end of the program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wished that I had known that I had no reason to stress before going to Costa Rica. I wished that I had known that San José (and Costa Rica in general) are so very friendly and accessible. I also wished that I had known to pack a better variety of clothes and my favorite snacks.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Medical Spanish (Intermedio)

Course Department:
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: The course was really challenging. The profesora was great! Though the class did focus on medical terms (anatomy,medical tools/ supplies, symptoms), there was a thorough review of grammar. We did doctor/nurse and patient simulations often, which helped me learn the terminology and speak spanish as a health provider. Everything I learned was applicable; I got a job working in a pediatric clinic right after I returned home, and I used (still use) what i learned everyday! I even get to translate for the providers from time to time :)
Credit Transfer Issues: