Costa Rica. Enjoy it :) Past Review

By (TESOL/Spanish Edu., Bethel University & Seminary) for

ISA Study Abroad in San José, Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My study abroad experience changed my life. I am a better person, I know more of who I am and what is important to me. I have made life-long relationships. I have no regrets whatsoever- only that it wasn't long enough. The hardest time of all was coming home. The first month back was probably the most down time in my life. I came home very early, spring was not really here, most of my friends were still in school, my new friends lived in other states and I was verry lonely. I can't wait to go abroad and live again and visit my family in 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.

Overall, the academic experience was very good. I really like the style of teaching in universities abroad- or at least where I was. They are less strict, but at the same time give the students more responsibility. Students are more mature, work together and student and teacher both know that if the student wants to do well, it is up to the student to put forth effort and motivation. The education system abroad was more open to teacher-student discussion, help, assistance, and informality in a sense. There was much more respect for the teachers, but at the same time, the teachers were approachable and willing to help it seemed, in whatever area. There were less rules and more focus on motivation and presentation. I really appreciated that, since I am going to become a teacher, their teaching methods and styles are things that I want to implement into my future career.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The hosting directors were the most fabulous people. The greatest weakness of the program I think was the end. It was a horribly chopping cut off to the program. We had finals, had to say goodbyes, had to pack ALL in THREE DAYS. Before we knew it we were on the planes back to the United States. When I first became interested in the program, it was scheduled to last until April 17th. When I called, I was informed that it was only until the 7th now because then we wouldn't need a visa/travel out of the country for a short period. Also, my host family told me that the other students from previous programs always left on the weekend so they had time to finish their finals and leave after saying goodbye to their families over the weekend. I was so upset, but it all moved so quickly. I had finals, monday thru wednesday, then was picked up at 2:00am thursday morning. It was horrible. I think that it should be better planned. And also, all of the kids traveled to Nicaragua or Panama, so the dilemma with renewing the visa would have not been a problem.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had the absolute best family that I could ever ask for. I REALLY wish that they were given a special gift, a special honor or something so that they know that they are so wonderful. Please do something to show my family, and the other families how much they are appreciated and how much we appreciate them. I felt so honored to be in their home, so comfortable, so relaxed and so loved. I was the most worried about my host family, and the exceeded any possible expectation I had. I love them so much.

* Food:

The food was Fabulous. period.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The trips were WONDERFUL! I only wish they were not all the first three weeks. Those are vital times to get to know the people around you, at the university, and your host family. Instead we became closest to the other American students. Please think about spreading the three excursions out.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I always felt safe. There was always someone to walk with us.

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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
Language acquisition improvement?

The program itself and the people were wonderful in focusing us in on speaking spanish. The problem was the other American students did not want to put forth as much effort and they wanted to hang out with each other instead of branching out and actually meeting the people from the University. That was a downfall. The office became a crutch for people when they were bored, tired or feeling lazy and less motivated. I wish more of the students were willing to look beyond and make more friends. That would have helped their Spanish. The best times that I had were just staying home with my host family, and traveling/talking with my new friends.

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

  • Americans
  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I would say that I had to step out to really meet the people from Costa Rica. If you did not try, I could have spoken english and been with American students 24/7. The best times I had were when I would venture away from the crowd and ask questions. Always ask questions- about the vocabulary, about how the systems work, and about peoples' lives. I have not one regret. The type of student that would most likely benefit from this program is someone who is willing to explore by themselves, but if they still want guided dates, and easy places to get around. Costa Rica is the most easy country to access anything you want. Beach- buy a ticket and leave. Volcano- hop on the bus. Dancing- call a taxi and meet your friends there. I lived without a phone or computer., and that was GREAT. Most of all, don't have expectations, learn to adapt, and take it all in. You won't regret it either. : )