Oh the Places I Will Never Forget Past Review

By (Berea College) - abroad from 01/18/2016 to 05/06/2016 with

CGEE: Social Change in Central America: Exploring Peace, Justice, and Community Engagement

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?

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.

The courses were rigorous mainly due to the fact that the one course was to be counted as a course that you would normally take within a semester. I enjoyed all the courses because they were courses completely outside my Biology major. Although they were challenging, it allowed me to change my thinking and gain a different lens when I was presented with the concepts and/or information.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

They were all so amazing and accommodating! I say this because they were very understanding in my circumstance for my grandmother was in one of the main locations of study and they allowed me to stay with her as my home stay which allowed me to see her every day! They were also caring for all of us when it came down to not feeling well. Several including myself got sick, but they took care of everything such as scheduling the appointment, transportation, interpreting what the nurses and physicians would say, and obtaining the medications that we needed. Overall the staff was very loving and open to questions and conversations!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

This was my favorite part of the program- home stay! In some weekend or week locations we were in pairs, but for the major locations most of us stayed were hosted individually by a family in the community. My Costa Rican family fully welcomed me into their home. They were accommodating and my host sister was the sweetest. I enjoyed interacting with the family whether it be watching a movie together or playing card games. Even better, the house next door was my host "grandmother's" home, so I practically had to families to reach out to and visit. In Nicaragua my host dad is an artist- a muralist to be exact. He allowed me to ask him what the interpretations of his paintings meant. He allowed me to watch him as he would paint on a smaller scale for his neighbors at times. My host mother and sister were also amazing for they both designed handmade jewelry. They also allowed me to watch and each piece was made with such patience and love. My home stay in La Carpio, Costa Rica was also a great experience. Although it was only a weekend they welcomed us with open arms and I will never forget their smiling faces. Ultimately the home stays in which I was placed impacted my life and each and every one of them hold a special place in my heart.

* Food:

Oh my Goodness!!! The food was delicious and you will never go hungry. Although all three of the countries are locate relatively close to each other they each have their preferred dishes. In Guatemala, I loved my "mush" (another version of oatmeal) every morning; In Costa Rica I loved my platanos and loved my host mom because she would prepare it each day; In Nicaragua, the nicatamale was so robust, but sure to have a friend with you to share because I could never manage to eat one on my own.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Guatemala was easier to have social interactions because most of us were near walking distance to many venues where locals would go to hang out, drink a cup of coffee, and dance! Our Spanish class as well allowed us to speak to our teachers and the employees of the school. They all mainly spoke Spanish; therefore, forcing us to use only Spanish and the lovely teachers were always there to correct our mistakes. In terms of Costa Rica and Nicaragua there were many places to explore, but could get costly since we lived in more quiet suburban or rural neighborhoods which required us to call for a taxi or wait until a bus arrived near the school.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Health care issues were addressed well. It was easily accessible since through the program they provide you with insurance. They assisted by providing transportation to the hospital and translated for us making sure not to leave anything out. As far as vaccines needed my institution provided me with information with the recommended vaccines. Fortunately most of mine were up to date and the only one I ended up getting was for the Typhoid fever just in case. But the program does very well in what to avoid. We had a session with a local nurse in Guatemala informing us that not all food stands are safe to eat from. Also that when eating vegetables they need to be washed very well. It was definitely helpful.

* Safety:

I felt very safe in all three of the countries. In Guatemala, I was either with the program coordinators, my friends, or my family. I would recommend to stay in pairs or small groups at all times. Overall, they gave us advice on that to in the beginning of the program on how it is very noticeable that we are not from there especially if we go in larger groups which can cause locals to feel that you have ample amount of money. Also small groups definitely allow you to know one another on a deeper level.

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
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? none
How many hours per day did you use the language?

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
  • Other
* 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?