Costa Rica--I'm glad I went, but it was pretty terrible in a lot of ways. Past Review

By (elementary education, University of Tulsa) for

ISA Study Abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Yes. It was something I always wanted to do. I would have regretted it forever if I had chickened out. I was miserable for most of the time, though. It was really hard to be away from my husband, and I had nightmares about being back there for months after I got back home. I was a little traumatized, but at the same time I had a lot of great experiences that I can remember for the rest of my life. I would love to go abroad again, but I would never do it alone again.

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 in English were a joke. The Spanish classes were terrible, like high school level, and at the same time all grammar and no speaking. The class I tried to take with Ticos, I failed. I tried to get out of it, but I wasn't allowed. I asked for help several times and was not given any.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The trips were fun and well organized. The university stuff was terrible.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We were walking distance to school and just about everything. All of the 12 Americans in my program were on the same block. Anything we couldn't walk to there was a bus we could take. My host family was very supportive. It was a difficult experience for me being away from my family, especially my husband, and my host family was very kind.

* Food:

I am a vegetarian, and it wasn't very hard to find food. Many of the Ticos were more accepting of my food choices than a lot of Americans are. You can get a "casado" with egg instead of meat most places.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The weekend field trips were a lot of fun. Arenal was beautiful.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

No one in our program had any safety problems until the last few weeks. One girl got her purse stolen at knife-point and another was shot at in a crazy incident near a hotel where her friend from the US who had come to visit her was staying.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* 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
Language acquisition improvement?

My host parents only spoke Spanish. It was hard because I was around my english-speaking classmates all day, and they NEVER wanted to practice Spanish.

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

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you are too shy to seek out Spanish-speaking opportunities in the states, you will be too shy to become fluent in Spanish in another country. I was really hoping that I would be forced to use Spanish enough to really improve my speaking skills, but I wasn't. If you are outgoing enough to practice, you can find opportunities in the US to learn.