Studying in Costa Rica was the greatest decision I ever made. Past Review

By (Spanish Education, Latin American Studies, University of Nebraska- Lincoln) for

ISA Study Abroad in San José, Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much about the world around me, and how happy people can be with much less than what we have. I've never met a more friendly or happy country than Costa Rica. We think of many latin american nations to be lacking in so many things, yet they seem to be much more fulfilled. It's incredible how hard it is not to be smiling every second that you're in this country. It's the most beautiful place I have ever been, Both in how it looks, and in its culture. Since my study abroad experience, I have added a major in Latin American Studies, and hope to work/teach abroad in Costa Rica, or elsewhere, after graduation. Living in the U.S. will just never measure up after you've been to a place like Costa Rica.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Not very difficult, but very immersive, we were asked to speak in Spanish at all times in most classes, but the workload tended to be low and about things pertaining to culture and our surroundings.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The first weekend, there was a problem because many classes that we had signed up for prior to departure had scheduling conflicts, so that sort of threw some people off. I had to change 2 of my classes after arrival. Other than that, I never had any problems, the ISA office was a block away from the school and always welcoming and offering help. There were many students in the group and all seemed to appreciate the help the ISA workers offered us.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was given a survey to determine my habits and interests, and I asked that I be placed in a home where I could practice and play guitar because I didn't want to give it up for almost 4 months, and ISA set me up with a host family that was a family band with instruments and everything. It could not have been better. I also asked for a family that liked sports and sure enough, they were all sports fans and I played soccer with my host brother at least once a week.

* Food:

Host mom made amazing food, so for the best food just stay home. Of course there are many places on every street to get food. the options are endless.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The four excursions offered by my program (one of them optional) were bar none, the best weekends of my stay, and my life. we stayed in 5 star locations with views of the beach, volcanos, and the cloud forest. It was incredible that all of that was included.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I walked home at 1 or 2 am by myself many nights, and while I wouldn't recommend that for all (I'm 6'4" guy), I never felt scared for my safety, as there are police huts on each corner around the school. I would not however recommend walking around alone at night far from the school, as the police presence becomes scarcer.

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)


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

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The friends I met.
  • The opportunities to explore anywhere in the country or surrounding countries for very little money.
* What could be improved?
  • Sort out class schedules a little more thoroughly before students arrive in San Jose.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I would encourage students to make sure that they budget wisely and get to know the locals. Those are the two things I didn't do as thoroughly as I wish I would have, and doing so would have only increased the value of my experience even more.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Fonética y Fonología (Phonetics & Phonology)

Course Department:
Instructor: Juan Jose Ortega
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: It was not particularly challenging, but I feel that this class taught me more than any Spanish class I have ever taken in my life, and possibly any other class. It taught me how to speak, how to pronounce, and how to write in Spanish like a natural. The professor was the greatest person I met in Costa Rica and would help us out with anything we needed, school related or otherwise. We were encouraged to practice our Spanish and really learned how to speak like a native speaker.
Credit Transfer Issues: None, traded it for a Spanish Phonetics class.