The Experience of a Lifetime Past Review

By (Lewis-Clark State College) - abroad from 01/04/2014 to 03/29/2014 with

ISA Study Abroad in San José, Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I advanced in my Spanish-speaking skills so much more than I could have ever done in the U.S. because of the immersion and necessity to use the language in daily life. I also gained new perspectives on life being in a completely different culture than I was used to, which made me more open-minded and has helped shaped who I am as a person today. Lastly, I had some of the best experiences of my life while abroad that I will never forget.

Review Photos

ISA Study Abroad in San José, Costa Rica Photo ISA Study Abroad in San José, Costa Rica Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I learned so much from all of my classes and was able to advance so quickly because of all the practice I would get speaking in and out of class. For the most part, I loved my teachers and the 4-hour classes were conducted in such a way that they did not seem to drag on as you might think.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The study abroad office employees were always so helpful and accommodating. It was evident that they also genuinely care about each and every student and want to make sure everyone has the best experience possible!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with a host family, and they were wonderful! I was very blessed to live with them, as I know that not everyone was able to connect with their family how I did.They treated me as part of the family from day one and took care of me in every aspect needed. There was never a time that I did not trust them or feel comfortable going to them for anything.

* Food:

My family cooked breakfast and dinner for me, which was always delicious and included a variety of dishes and foods. Lunch was also great at the university and surrounding local restaurants, but it became expensive. For most of my time there I would buy food from Auto Mercado (a nearby grocery store) and make lunch from home.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Of course, being a blue-eyed blonde American, I never truly felt like I fit in, but you better believe I did everything else I could to take on the temporary identity of a "tica" (local). Learning and using Spanish as much as I could, dressing more like the locals, and taking part in as many cultural activities as possible were how I was able to feel integrated for the time I spent there.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The only health issue I dealt with was a short-lived stomach bug, and I was able to avoid the need to seek medical help. My program staff and teachers were very understanding of my missing a day of classes, and my family made sure I was taken care of while at the same time left to rest. I did not need any specific vaccines for this program, but I did have my doctor send me with some prescriptions for common/possible issues I may have had. There was another student in my program, a friend of mine, who fractured her foot and cut open her head while we were there, and although her treatment and visits to the private hospital were fairly expensive, she received quick and quality care. Also, our program staff made sure someone always went with her to appointments, checked in with her frequently, and even responded in the middle of night during one of the incidents.

* Safety:

Most of the crime that occurs in and around San José is petty theft, and I am only aware of one instance within the group of international students at my school during the 3 months I was there. Additionally, almost all instances can be avoided by taking the correct precautions and being smart: not carrying valuables with you, not walking in the dark, staying in pairs/groups, etc.

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 was able to save on lunches by stocking up for a couple weeks from the grocery store, but I did not anticipate all the taxi trips I would have to be taking. Although they are pretty cheap individually, it quickly added up. Also, I traveled almost every weekend and spent money on the transportation, activities, and gifts that also were cheap compared to the U.S. but again added up.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $125
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Try to figure out the bus routes as soon as possible, walk when you can, and share taxis to save on transportation expenses. Also, look for cheap, local alternatives to the expensive brand foods imported from other countries.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes

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
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?
  • Opportunities to learn and speak Spanish everywhere
  • Becoming part of a Costa Rican family
  • All of the new, fun experiences I was able to have
* What could be improved?
  • More integration with the local students
  • Better inform students ahead of time about the frequent use of taxis
  • Ensure the shuttle is running every night so students do not have to walk home
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Walking is an easy and frequently used method of transportation, but anything done after sunset requires the use of a taxi. You will want to fit in with the locals as much as possible most of the time, which includes rarely wearing shorts (applies more to the city than beach towns). Your experience truly is what you make it; take advantage of anything and everything you can because time flies and you may never get the chance again!

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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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.