Costa Rica: Rewarding Field Research Experience Past Review

By (Biology, General., Middlebury College) for

Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS): San Jose - Tropical Biology on a Changing Planet

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Yes, definitely a worthwhile learning experience.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload was not spaced evenly throughout the semester, yet clumped into weeks with very heavy workload and weeks at a time with barely any submitted work. Hard for time management. Grading was fair for the most part.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

It's a wonderful experience, but be prepared to work in an academic environment very different from Middlebury (i.e. lots of field work and hiking). I definitely have a greater appreciation for Middlebury after my experience.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Housing- biological field stations, mostly bunk beds, tight quarters

* Food:

I hope you enjoy rice and beans! You will learn to love them.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The program travels to a diverse array of ecosystems and forest types. They were all very different and interesting.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Snakes were the biggest threat, but everyone made it through the semester just fine. Avoid wearing flip flops!

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
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Hostel
  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Experiential field learning.
* What could be improved?
  • At least one of the professors could present themselves more professionally. Definitely hard to live, work, eat and sleep with all your classmates and professors 24/7

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Fundamentals of Tropical Biology

Course Department: Biology 134
Instructor: 3-Instructor Team
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Learn the fundamentals of tropical ecology and biodiversity. Many field exercises helped to complement the lecture material and was helpful as you could learn something in class and walk outside to see it. Good intro to tropical biology. All classes were taught by the courses 3 traveling professors that followed us throughout the semester. Participation was equal to my normal level at my home institution for all classes.
Credit Transfer Issues: No
Course Name/Rating:

Environmental Science & Policy of the Tropics

Course Department: ENV 129
Instructor: 3 Instructor Team
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Learned the progressive environmental policies and history of Costa Rica and related these back to biological and ecological concepts. For that reason it was often hard to distinguish between the Fund. in Trop. Bio. class as they were so interrelated. Very good to get a perspective on environmental policy of another country after taking an env. policy class at Middlebury.
Credit Transfer Issues: No
Course Name/Rating:

Culture and Langauge of Costa Rica

Course Department: SP 62
Instructor: Stephanni Cruz
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: Learn in small classes (1 prof to 4 students). Speaking and aural comprehension were prioritized. Great! Definitely learned a lot.
Credit Transfer Issues: Elective credit
Course Name/Rating:

Field Research in Tropical Biology

Course Department: BIO 135L
Instructor: 3 Instructor Team
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Independent field research projects were the highlight of this course. We were able to work with a lot of professional scientists and visiting professors working in Costa Rica. I wished the program had more and better laboratory equipment, as it was often lacking in that respect. Very good experimental design class and got a good background in statistical analysis.
Credit Transfer Issues: No.