Costa Rica really is the land of Pura Vida Past Review

By (International/Global Studies., Point Loma Nazarene University) for

ISA Study Abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a ton about myself and my Latin American roots. I found a whole new joy of using Spanish as much as English in conversation. Going abroad just made me want to do it again!!

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Universidad Veritas
How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Workload is pretty light, but the professors know their material well and are interested and invested in student learning.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

My one criticism is that the companies and travel plans student travelers were pointed to were not super helpful. I always found a less expensive way to go where I wanted and do what I wanted.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host mom was insanely sweet. I lived really close to the school and to the bus stop.

* Food:

If you stay in Zapote, go to Soda Mary's and Leñitas. It's pretty cheap and really good. There is an AutoMercado within walking distance, and they tend to have a really good selection of other foods. If you're up for some Latin American fast food, I loved Pollo Campero, which is right by the National Theater downtown. POPS is the best ice cream in the country, and if you go to any other little shops, try the TRITS ice cream snack. Chicky's and Yippy's are good candy bars to buy. If you're in Zapote or Barrio Cordoba, there's a great pizza place next to Los Professionales (which is a local bar). I didn't have dietary restrictions.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The Social Development and Environmental Impact class takes a trip to Ostional, which is where sea turtles go to lay their eggs. I was my favorite trip of the semester.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Common sense is key. San Jose is just as unsafe as any other major city. I'm a petite girl and I had no issues walking home or taking cabs even late at night.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I spent maybe $50 a week on food.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I made sandwiches for lunch during the week and went out on the weekends for all my meals. It ended up being super helpful.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
Language acquisition improvement?

Talk to your professors in Spanish if you can. Everyone speaks English, so you have to work extra hard to practice if you're serious about learning the language.

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

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

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Homestay
  • Professors
  • Travel opportunities
* What could be improved?
  • ISA staff involvement in student experience
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Get out of San Jose as much as you can. Explore the city during the week and visit the rest of the country on the weekends. This is an awesome country to travel through and to enjoy nature. The beaches are fantastic and the people are kind no matter where you go.