Pura Vida! Challenges and Adventures for a Lifetime :) Past Review

By (St. Mary's College of Maryland) - abroad from 04/07/2014 to 05/14/2014 with

Institute for Central American Development Studies (ICADS): San José - Language and Society Immersion Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about myself as a teacher and a student, it was absolutely worthwhile! :)

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Reasonable and individualized within the time that we had!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

They were great and extremely flexible and supportive when international plans inevitably changed and we needed to adapt.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Overall, satisfied. There were some difficulties with internet that I needed for communicating with my family and completing my coursework. I was told I would have access to wifi and did not at either host family. This was a HUGE problem for completing assignments for the US and ICADS and contacting the US cost me an additional 150$ for my telephone bill that could have easily been avoided with the wifi I had planned to have for communicating.

* Food:

Always generous and delicious! If anything, I just wish there were smaller portion sizes or it was culturally acceptable to serve myself!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

As integrated as I could be with isolation safety concerns and a very difficult coursework load to manage while abroad.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?


* Safety:

Overall I felt safe, Costa Rica is a tranquil country and my host family was great.

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)

Fairly well, especially since there wasn't more than a weekend to travel.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? aprox $150
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? - Make sure there is wifi for communicating with home/completing assignments (anything else is ridiculously expensive!) - Buy a local phone, it's a great investment of safety and finances - Pre-plan any trips the best you can (transportation/hotels it's the balance between cost and safety and convenience)


* 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

Great immersion opportunities! :)

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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? College
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? - Talk to people (if campus opportunities like at Elon University- where I went for undergrad) - Review vocabulary - Spanish Music - Spanish television/movies with English subtitles - Bilingual children's books

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Other
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?
  • Spanish immersion/ One on one Spanish language class
  • Delicious fresh Costa Rican food
  • I love the host family experience!!! :)
* What could be improved?
  • scheduling
  • wifi access guaranteed
  • opportunities to travel/ see other parts of the country
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? - I completely and totally overpacked for teaching in Costa Rica because I wanted to be professional and prepared for anything, but I didn't know where I would be and what the situation would entail until after the fact. - There are a lot of coursework requirements that made it difficult to make friends in the community (because I was so busy all of the time)

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'