Pura Vida = Pure Life: The Costa Rican Lifestyle Past Review

By (Business management, University of Georgia - Albany State University) for

Central American Spanish Academy / ACCE - San Jose - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This program was worthwhile! I was so sad that it was over. It has me looking forward to future opportunites abroad such as studying abroad next summer, or teaching abroad, or even volunteering. I have a unique experience that shaped me into an open minded and eager individual. I am surely excited about my next big plans abroad, where they will take me, and what I will get to encounter next.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I absolutely loved my academic experience. Everyday, we went to class for four hours and had 90% of conversation and 10% of actual school work. Our professor would give us the lesson for the day and we would spend the rest of our time practicing it through oral communication. At first it seemed very frighting and intimadating. However, it was not that bad because the professors were polite and patient. They invited open communication and if you said anything wrong they would tell you and correct you. They simply wanted you to try. Trying is what makes students better at their new language.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The professors and administrative team were very accessible. They were available 100% of the time. If there were any concerns, students felt comfortable going to the personale at the school. Every personale was well informed and if they did not know the answer to questions, they would find the answer, and give a response immediately. The program was a perfect size. Just enough professors on hand and equally divided in a classroom with at the most three students per teacher. My only expectation was to feel welcomed and learn in a comfortable environment. And all my expectations were met perfectly.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I appreciated the wonderful and small town of Grecia. People were friendly and the neighborhood was very safe. My host family was very accomodating. My host mother cooked me a wonderful breakfast and dinner everyday. My family truly made me feel like I was apart of the family. Anything I needed or even appeared to need, my family would get it for me without me even having to say a word. Once again they were very accomodating. As well, since we lived in a small town, it wasn't very busy at nights. We went out of the city for our excursion and our walk to the school was only ten minutes.

* Food:

From the beginning, my host family asked what were my dietary restrictions. My only restriction was Beef and not a single meal consisted of beef. I remember countless times when my family would make a Chicken Lasagna instead of beef. Or Chicken/Pork Tacos. The food was very rich in flavor and they love to give you heavy helpings. At times I had to ask my host mother to reduce the serving sized. A good place to eat Chicken Wings is Bro's and for Fried Chicken is Pollo Crispy. As well there is a great Chinese resturant near the Church. And for Costa Rican Food is La Nina's! As well, try their wonderful cheesecake!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My favorite experience was eating dinner with my Tico family and extended family. There were times when fifteen of us would feast on a huge meal on a random night. Not just for holidays just like in the States. My school kept us involved in activites like: WaterRafting, Canopy (Zip-Lining), Visted Volcanos, Beaches, Visted the Waterfalls, Coffee plantation, visted San Jose, and so much more!!!! I loved the great events that were planned for us!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

My host city was very safe! It was a small city and just like visiting any other country/place be sure to always be careful of your surroundings. Do not give a reason to bother you by wearing flashy or for the ladies provacative clothing. We had no health issues besides a few headaches from going through the mountains. However, it was made clear if we needed to go to the hospital, we would be immediately taken.

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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

I practiced with my professors, my host family, and the natives of the country. Using the language was needed EVERYDAY! But no worries, the submersion was full throttle. Students practiced all day and everyday. This encouraged me to want to the language even more. I wanted to communicate with others in the language. I often found myself feeling bad if I did not know a Spanish word and used an English word. Most people at least knew "Hello" and "Good-bye" but that was it. But that is where the professors come in to teach you the basics of communication.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Direct Enrollment

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? In Costa Rica, I read a shirt that said: "Challenge yourself. You only live once." This inspired me to be reach out and do everything I ever imagined plus more. To students interested in this program or any other program, the best advice I would give to you is to embrace the wonderful experience. Do everything that your program offers. Meet new people. Try new things and step out of your element. Before you know it, your two weeks, one month, or semester would be up and you'll be going back home to all you ever known. After the program you will benefit personally, intellectually, professionally, and so much more! Any student can benefit from this program. Just as in life, it is never about the cards you have been dealt, but how you play the cards. How you deal with a new experience is solely on you.