The Best Decision I've Ever Made: Costa Rica Past Review

By (Business Administration - Marketing, Trinity University) - abroad from 09/01/2013 to 12/22/2012 with

ISA Study Abroad in San José, Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I did so much self discovery and grew a lot as a person while abroad. I learned how to relax and not take life so seriously; I became more confident; I opened my mind and let go of the slight ethnocentric mindset I had had in the past; I got over my fear of cockroaches and bugs; I learned how to be more spontaneous and live in the moment; and after having studied Spanish for 8 years, I FINALLY learned it through the need to use it. Going to Costa Rica was hands-down the best decision I've ever made and I will always value the time I spent there.

Review Photos

International Studies Abroad (ISA): San Jose - Spanish Language, Liberal Arts and Environmental Studies Photo International Studies Abroad (ISA): San Jose - Spanish Language, Liberal Arts and Environmental Studies Photo International Studies Abroad (ISA): San Jose - Spanish Language, Liberal Arts and Environmental Studies Photo International Studies Abroad (ISA): San Jose - Spanish Language, Liberal Arts and Environmental Studies Photo International Studies Abroad (ISA): San Jose - Spanish Language, Liberal Arts and Environmental Studies Photo

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 intensity of my elective courses was not very high. The intensive month Spanish classes were a lot of work and helped tremendously with learning the language and culture, but the electives required very little work.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The orientations and continued assistance throughout the program were awesome. I loved ISA and appreciated their help with the transition.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I absolutely love my host family. We still keep in touch and the housing could not have been better. I lived 3 minutes walking distance from my university and 8 minutes from the gym. The family helped with the cultural understanding so much.

* Food:

The meals I received in my homestay were balanced and delicious. We had large breakfasts and dinners with our families, then were on our own for lunch. At first I didn't know if I liked having to buy lunch everyday, but it was a great social time with friends and the restaurants in the area were cheap and great. I miss the food there a lot.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I adapted so much that the reverse culture shock coming home still hasn't worn off completely and it has been four weeks since my return to the US. After about six weeks in Costa Rica, I felt like I finally understood the culture and loved living their lifestyle.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

We received information at the beginning of the program about healthcare and how to receive it, but I don't have much insight into the process because I never needed to see a doctor.

* Safety:

Just like any large city, there is danger on the streets. During my time abroad, a few students at my university got mugged on the street. BUT, those of us who made sure to walk in groups and never go anywhere alone after dark stayed safe. As long as future students pay attention and apply the information they receive during their orientations, they will stay safe.

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 liked to travel most weekends and do adventurous things such as bungee jump and white water raft. So, each weekend cost roughly $100. If I had only bought lunch everyday and not done other fun activities it would have been possible to only spend about $40/week.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? About $40
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? For the first few weeks of your time abroad, keep track of every penny you spend in some sort of spread sheet or notebook. It helps you understand where your money is going and helps you get a handle on the currency abroad. After a few weeks I stopped doing it, but it would have helped me save a lot if I had continued.


* 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 only allowed to speak Spanish in the office of my program and were not allowed to speak English with our host families even if they knew it.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
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? Advanced Grammar
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Watch movies and TV shows! Watching movies in the respective language while there are captions in that same language is extremely helpful to learning conversational phrases.

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
  • 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?
  • The homestay requirement
  • Intensive language classes and structure of other classes
  • the excursions that were included in the tuition
* What could be improved?
  • I honestly can't think of anything I would change.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? You don't actually have to buy a plane ticket that says you are leaving within 90 days of arrival and it is rare that there are issues. I would have saved a few hundred dollars if I had not had to change my plane ticket at the end of the semester.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.