Pura Vida! Beauty, Nature, Love, Fun, Tuanis! Past Review

By (VISUAL AND PERFORMING ARTS., Austin College) - abroad from 01/07/2012 to 06/30/2012 with

ISA Study Abroad in San José, Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a new family, load of true friends, and a country that I miss everyday. Living in another country teaches you a lot about yourself. You struggle some days, get frustrated, and then laugh, wishing you would never leave. Going to Costa Rica helped shape what I want to do for the future.

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.

The intensive Spanish was amazing! I wish we all learned languages like this. It was a 8-12 class every morning with a Costa Rican teacher. I read stories in Spanish, created poems, and presentations in Spanish. Estaba bueniisimo!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The host country program staff were very reliable and friendly. In the office, they encouraged all the students to speak in Spanish to each other and with the staff. They had cultural activities and volunteer opportunities for the whole group.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The best part of my experience in Costa Rica was my host family!! I love my mamatica. They treated all the student that they had as real family. It was fun being at home, and my mamatica cooked wonderful food. I would encourage students to live with a host family. If there are problems they can always request another family.

* Food:

Healthy, natural, and amazing!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It was hard at my university, Veritas. This is because a lot of the local students there see so many foreign students come and go, that they don't see a point in making strong connections with international students. But, outside of school many Costa Ricans are happy and excited to meet international students. You just have to be outgoing and say hello.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never had to go the the doctor during my time abroad, but my friends who did had good experiences. I would tell students to bring a credit card, because when you go you have to pay up front before getting treated. And then you go to your program's insurance to get refunded back money.

* Safety:

I felt just as safe in San Jose, as I did in a big city in the US. I would warn students to be careful at night, since robberies occur. Stay in groups, and don't go to dangerous areas at night.

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)

I had housing, breakfast, and dinner covered. So the only expenses I had was for lunch, travel/transportation and personal items. A student can live off $100 a week, although weekend costs will be higher if traveling a lot. You can really stretch money easily.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Around $45-50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Go to the grocery store for food If you are going to eat out for lunch, then eat at a soda (they are cheap ($5) and ridiculously delicious!


* 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

We were always encouraged to speak Spanish. We could only basically speak Spanish in our host homes.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Intermediate Spanish II in High School
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? Study a language in a country that speaks it and live in it!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • Intensive Spanish
  • Host Familiy
  • Traveling
* What could be improved?
  • Relations with Local Veritas students and International students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew more Spanish, so when I first got there I could talk to people more. I was in this weird stage where I could understand people perfectly but I couldn't form my own full responses back. But, I built up my speaking and grammar skills very quickly.