Costa Rica: When Can I Go Back?? Past Review

By (Spanish, University of Louisville) for

ISA Study Abroad in San José, Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My Spanish improved greatly while in Costa Rica. I learned a lot about daily Spanish use and improved my speech flow immensely.

Personal Information

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.

The grading system for the classes at ULACIT in San Jose, Costa Rica mirrored those at my American University in order for our grades to transfer smoothly. The workload was enough for me to learn from the work, but not so much that I could not enjoy my experience in Costa Rica. It was the perfect balance.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Both advisors (Heather and Jose) were amazing. They were there every day and were just wonderful. They answered any questions I had and were extremely friendly.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host family was wonderful. My mama Tica provided everything I would need and never failed to ensure we were fed and our clothes were laundered. The neighborhood was okay, nothing fancy. At first, it scared me because there were bars in front of the yard and watch towers (with watchimen) every so often. However, I never once encountered a problem, despite my obvious gringa appearance. By the end of the stay, my home and neighborhood felt exactly like my real home. I knew the outline, the bus stops, etc. It was a short ride to ULACIT via bus and transportation was cheap.

* Food:

I mostly just ate with my host family, but did get to experience eating at local places, as well, especially when traveling on the weekends. The food was cheap, and it was good. At no point did it make me sick. I only give this a 4/5 because there was nothing spectacular about the food, and I did not get much advice about local restaurants/stands.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My favorite experience was the ziplining tour through the rainforest. It was just amazing. I have never experienced anything like it since then. The next best thing was white water rafting through rapids via a river through the rainforest. Everything was amazingly beautiful.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

The city felt a little unsafe because of the mentioned crime rate, but guidelines were provided during orientation to help make us feel a little safer. Nothing ever happened to make me feel unsafe, though. I did get sick once, and it was addressed promptly. My program advisor took me to a pharmacy, where they asked for symptoms and gave me medicine. I was better within a few days. My host mom gave me home remedies that helped me feel better in the meantime, too.

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

Language acquisition improvement?

I was able to practice my Spanish every day, all day. Since ULACIT is a Costa Rican university, I met a few Costa Rican students who became friends of mine while there (this was in 2006 and I still communicate with some via Facebook from time to time!). I also spoke with my host family, professors and the ISA advisors at ULACIT daily. I spoke Spanish everywhere we went (the grocery store, restaurants, hostels when traveling, etc). The only time I spoke English was with my ISA-provided American roommate or fellow American classmates.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The people
  • The excursions
  • The surroundings
* What could be improved?
  • I loved everything about it
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The student who would benefit most from this program is one truly looking to improve his/her language skills. If you want to do this while taking in an amazing view because of the surroundings, this is absolutely the program for you. My advice? Practice, practice, practice! Speak with those around you every chance you get and take in the surroundings. Do every excursion possible and save as much money as possible to travel the country on the weekends.