San Jose, Costa Rica y Mas Past Review

By (University of Maine - Orono) - abroad from 05/28/2016 to 06/25/2016 with

CISabroad (Center for International Studies): San Jose - Summer in Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a new understanding of Latin American culture and improved my language skills. It was definitely worthwhile

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I LOVED my host family (Mama Tica, housekeeper, and two dogs) so much! But my housemate who lived with me for the duration of my stay made things difficult and awkward at times. We were not very compatible and I think were matched improperly.

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Living in the city had major drawbacks. We were within walking distance of the school which was great and the neighborhood was relatively safe-- but as a female, I still couldn't walk in the city alone, or after dark without a male escort. We were also discouraged from taking taxis at all, or Ubers alone. This made connecting with local culture very difficult.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

The neighborhood I lived in was relatively safe for San Jose. There were motorcycle escorts home from the school, and the host family provided great safety advice. However, San Jose is still not the safest place to live. Be careful when you go out, be careful of how much you drink, be careful of WHERE you go. You have to be much more vigilant here than in the US, even in big US cities.

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

I loved the program and it was a great fit. The only thing I would change is the housemate situation.


* 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)

Costa Rica isn't as cheap as some people make it out to be. Be mindful of the exchange rate.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $20-25/week, but meals were included in the program (except for lunch, which I often didn't eat)


* 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

Again, living with a host family really helped develop my language skills. But, having a housemate who spoke english detracted from this asset

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? Rosetta Stone level 5-- no college courses taken
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? Use it as much as possible! Tempting as it is, don't speak english unless you absolutely have to. And don't be embarrassed-- your host family is going to be so gracious!

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
  • 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?
  • Staying with a host family
  • Weekend excursions
* What could be improved?
  • Housemate matching
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew better how to confront conflict in a homestay situation before I left, rather than being able to reflect on it in hindsight

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!