If I was offered the opportunity to return today, I would! Past Review

By (Master of Public Administration, University of Southern Indiana) - abroad from 05/30/2014 to 07/19/2014 with

ISA Study Abroad in San José, Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The whole experience was definitely worthwhile. Working with a local nonprofit and living with a host family brought two unique and rewarding opportunities to learn a countries culture and language.

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.

I did not take any courses, because I was interning abroad. However, I was able to learn a lot from my internship and gain valuable skills that I can use in my future career.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The host country's staff was very friendly and helpful. They assisted with advice, academics, and travel. At least one staff members was on call 24-hours if anyone had an emergency. I felt very welcomed.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with a wonderful Host Family. My host Mom, sisters, and brother were very helpful in assisting me with the language and areas to sight see. My host Mom provided 2 meals a day and she was a fabulous cook!!

* Food:

Like I said my Host Mom was a wonderful cook! Outside of the house of course the food was great as well. The food is really fresh and full of flavor. We ate a lot of rice, beans, and fresh fruits and vegetables. You will learn to love gallo pinto!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Because I had a host family and worked at an organization with locals I felt integrated in the local culture

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Although, I never had to use our health care. We were covered by insurance and our host staff was on call 24-hours in case of an emergency.

* Safety:

It is a large city so its a matter of using common sense about areas not to go to and times not to be out by yourself at night. During orientation they discuss with us about tips for staying safe. Also my host mom advise me on where I shouldn't go and other tips for staying 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)

Because I lived with a Host Family, 2 of my meals were already covered each day and I only had to pay for lunch. The cost of fresh produce there is cheaper but you can expect to pay a similar cost for items like shampoos and soaps as you do here. I saved a lot of money by making my own lunch instead of eating out at a restaurant each day. It also depends on what type of traveling you do on the weekends. Transportation is a lot cheaper there. You can also find cheap hostels. However, depending on your weekend destination it might get more expensive depending on the activities you want to do. Costa Rica has a lot of tourism so some of the prices might be inflated for certain activities. However, I was able to travel quite cheaply and find plenty of cheap/free activities to do.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $35 for food, if I traveled on the weekend to another city possibly I would spend a $100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? You will save a lot of money by planning your own traveling with a group of friends instead of using a travel service to do your planning. Your host family and staff are willing to give you advice on planning your trip as well.


* 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

The host staff and families encouraged you to speak in Spanish. My host mom didn't speak much English, but was very patient with me when I was struggling to explain something in Spanish. Also, the host staff are fluent in English if you ever need them to explain something and cannot understand in Spanish.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
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? Bachelors in Spanish
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? Don't be afraid to make mistakes and make a fool of yourself! Everyone understands that you are learning and they are willing to help you. Try not to even speak English with your american friends all the time. You will see your language proficiency multiple if you force yourself to speak the host language.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Other
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?
  • Host Family
  • La Fundacion Rahab - Intership Location
  • Supportive ISA staff
* What could be improved?
  • Longer Orientation with Internship Organization
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I would have planned to stay longer. I wasn't ready to leave!