Buenisima! The best experience of my life. Past Review

By (Spanish Language and Literature., Arizona State University) - abroad from 06/01/2012 to 08/11/2012 with

CEA: San Jose, Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was so worthwhile and there aren't enough words to be said about how lifechanging the experience is. If you want to grow and be challanged in a totally awesome way then go!

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: I took one middle level spanish class at Veritas University
How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The Profesor was amazing and engaging, he spoke clearly and slowly so the whole class could understand. He was also from Cuba and he had three thumbs, one of the best Profesors I have ever had.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

CEA reps were unbelievably nice and accommodating. They took care of any problems swiftly and were always available to talk to. They even took time to offer tutoring out of their own busy schedules.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My family was incredible. Some of the nicest people I have ever met. They fed me so much food I gained about 10 pounds in the many weeks I was there. Their love and care was constantly felt and I couldn't have asked for a better family.

* Food:

Food was good. It wasn't mexican food so don't be expecting taco's burrito's enchiladas and such everyday. Although rice and beans were a staple, it was a little more versatile. The fruit was the greatest thing ever. The freshest fruit you can imagine and all kinds of tropical tasty stuff everyday.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I give this 4 starts only because I was just getting really comfortable when I left. All that means is I reccommend staying there for over 2 months if you can. By the end of week 4 I was more comfortable talking with whomever, traveling around the city alone, and the country for that matter. Over 2 months is a good minimum I think. I would really reccommend going for 4-6 months if you can.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any health issues but a friend of mine just about broke her arm and she was taken care of very well.

* Safety:

San Jose was completely safe during the day. At night it was safe in my neighborhood but for girls, they always needed to be in groups at night or have a male with them. Nobody got mugged that I know of, although its always a possibility when you're from the US and you travel abroad.

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

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)

If you live frugally then 100 a week will do you fine. Remember your host family feeds you so during the week you don't need to buy food necessarily. However if you go out on friday night or any night for that matter, cab rides are cheap pretty much everywhere like 5 bucks at the most and you split it between your friends. Beer and alcohol was moderately cheap most places you would go. I would suggest planning for 150 a week to account for a coffee here(it was amazing) or a beer after dance class, or some souvenirs for your family back home. I wish I wouldve planned better financially.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 150
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Open a travel checking account. It is a seperate account linked to your checking account that allows you to use your debit card( they're are ATM's everywhere) However the travel checking account only holds a certain amount in it in case your card is stolen it wont affect your entire money supply. You can always go online and put more into your travel checking account whenever you run out. I would plan on saving 650 dollars for each month you plan on being there at minimum.

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 am a spanish major and this was my first cultural immersion. I wanted to learn and be able to practice spanish. I had all the opportunities and the people were gracious with me. There are a lot of international students in the area so the people are used to speaking slowly for you and the dialect of Costa Rica is really beauitful... Pura Vida Mae!

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 101
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 practiced more on the weekends when I would be out with friends at bars or traveling the country. People want to talk to you and as long as you make an attempt you can connect with them. Many people speak a little to a lot of english as it is but I encourage you to steer away from using your native language especially with the easy stuff like how are you.... como esta usted!

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

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • The people running the program gave me peace of mind that all was going to be ok if I had any issues.
  • The country is so beautiful I didn't even scratch the surface
  • The people were very nice and their spirit was so true
* What could be improved?
  • Not alot that I can think of.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? A lot of things... some things you just have to learn through experience