Pura Vida! January 20, 2015

By (University of Memphis) - abroad from 05/23/2015 to 06/28/2014 with

CEA: San Jose, Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to believe in myself and not be afraid to come out of my shell. When I look back at my college career I absolutely believe that this experience was the point where I truly grew as a person and learned the most about myself.

Personal Information

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.

Everything I needed from extra help to my books were all supplied with easy access. When I arrived, I needed to change my Spanish course level and it was done with no problem at all. My teachers biggest concern was that we fully understood the lessons and learned the culture.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff helped us book the excursions that we did on our free weekends right down to the little details. They even helped us find our way to the bus station and get a taxi big enough for a big group when necessary. Without their help we certainly would not have had a stress free search for hostels.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My mama tica was the absolute best! I am still in contact with her today and I will always be grateful for all that she did while I was staying with her. When we first arrived, she showed us the safest and quickest way our classes and the CEA office. She was fabulous!

* Food:

I can not begin to express how sad I am that I am not a good enough cook to replicate all my meals that I had while in Costa Rica. All the food was fresh and while I thought I would never want to eat beans and rice again I truly miss it.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt that culture integration was fairly simple. We could easily be integrated when we went downtown or just to the neighborhood market.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not need any vaccines for this program which was nice. However I did get a stomach bug while I was there but CEA quickly provided a remedy within the day and I was better and going on an excursion the very next day.

* Safety:

I felt extremely safe in the city overall. I am a blonde girl therefore I stuck out like a sore thumb in the city so I attracted a lot of cat calls however if you just remember to use common sense then nothing will happen at all! Whenever we would walk to and from class there were always school security driving along next to us which made that walk even safer. People always say to be careful but I think that if you use your common sense then you will be just fine!

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)

When we had a free weekend and would go on excursions then I would normally need about $150 for the week however when it was a CEA planned excursion then I only needed about $50 for all the bakery sweets and food I would eat throughout the week since CEA covered the excursions.

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

My program encouraged us to use Spanish as much as we could. They took the approach of the more you use the easier it will become however they did understand that by he end of the day we would be tired and understood if we just needed some English speaking time.

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? I had just completed my 3rd semester of spanish
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? The best way to practice is just to speak and not be afraid to make mistakes! When the locals see that you are making an effort to use Spanish they will help you when you need it.

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?
  • New friends
  • Food
  • Excursions
* What could be improved?
  • volunteer opportunities
  • none
  • none
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew that I would want to stay longer to continue traveling after the program for a little to be able to go to all the places I didn't get a chance to go to.