Pura Vida 🌸 Past Review

By (Nebraska Wesleyan University) - abroad from 06/01/2018 to 04/30/2019 with

CEA CAPA Education Abroad: San Jose, Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained language skills and confidence beyond anything that can be taught within a classroom setting. I also learned how valuable cultural immersion can be and how to be independent in unfamiliar places.

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.

The overall academic experience was great. I took an intensive Spanish course. I loved my professor and the class was interesting and fun. I wish that I had retested to try and get into a more difficult class, but it was still very intensive and helpful.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The On-Site staff in San Jose were extremely helpful. Whether we had questions about things to do in San Jose, or how to travel around the country they were always there to provide helpful guidance.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with a host family and it was definitely one of my favorite parts of my experience. My "mama tica" was so kind. I loved getting to know her and the rest of her family. We had 10 students staying in the house, yet she still made sure to get to know and care for each of us individually. ( my host family's house was also a 10 min walk from Universidad Veriftas which was a huge plus!)

* Food:

The food was definitely something to get used to, but I ended up really enjoying it. The fruit is SO GOOD. Fruit juices are extremely common and delicious. The main staples of a Costa Rican meal are meat, beans, rice, and some sort of veggie (usually a salad). This seems like it could get old quick, but my host mom made something new everyday including a variety of different cultural dishes. She made sure to always acommadate for food allergies and preferences. I had a vegan/gluten-free roommate and she never had any issues at our homestay.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

This program did a great job of integrating us into the Tico Culture. The program included a local city tour, a beer tour, language exchanges, two excursions (Manuel Antonio, Volcan Arenal, La Fortuna, an organic farm tour, hot springs, etc). La Universidad Veritas also did a great job of helping us integrate into the culture. They offer tropical dance classes twice a week and also offer cooking and other elective classes as well. There are also a variety of different volunteer options.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Overall, I felt fairly safe the entire time while in Costa Rica. I do not recommend walking alone, especially at night, but overall it is fairly safe. It is also always a good idea to wear a money belt and to not carry valuables with you around the street. Machismo is still quite common in Costa Rica, so it is not uncommon to hear catcalls in the streets. While it is extremely uncommon for these catcalls to lead into anything else, it is best to wear jeans or long pants to not attract unwanted attention.

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

Yes, loooking back this was a great first study abroad experience. I loved the balance between my intensive course along with the cultural activities. I also had a wonderful experience with my host family, professors, and everyone I met during my time there.


* 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 spent around $400 in 4 weeks. This included all of my food, transportation, travel, and souvenirs combined. However, I tend to be pretty good at budgeting.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $75-125
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Lunch was not included in the program, but I recommend not eating at a nice restaurant everyday. It is much more affordable to stop at a supermarket or go to a French bakery where you can get sandwiches as cheap as $1-2. You can also get delicious empanadas for less than $2 right on the Veritas campus :) I also recommend buying souvenirs at the artisan market. They are much more affordable and you can even bargain the prices. For traveling outside San Jose, bus will be the cheapest option.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes

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
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
  • Cultural Activities
  • Homestay
* What could be improved?
  • More integration with local students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Don’t be afraid to do things out of your comfort zone. Ultimately you will get out of your experience what you put into it, so try a food you normally wouldn’t or go ziplining even if you’re afraid of heights. You will not regret it :)

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 Networker
An active student leader, it was important for you to network abroad as well. Once overseas, you sought out student clubs, volunteered with local organizations, or attended community events. You encouraged your friends join you, and often considered how you could reflect your international experiences in a resume.