The best decision I've ever made in my life December 16, 2014

By (Spanish, Winona State University) - abroad from 08/30/2014 to 12/20/2014 with

Sol Education Abroad- Heredia - Universidad Latina de Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Not only have my spanish skills skyrocketed but I feel more confident overall. Studying in another country and being immersed into a whole different culture is an eye opening experience that changes you. I am humbled, and my experiences here have made me stronger. I struggled with anxiety and depression problems before coming here and I just want to say to those of you who have similar issues: You can do it. You SHOULD do it. I could not have made a better decision in my life... I made lifelong friends and family here in Costa Rica that I will never forget.

Review Photos

Sol Education Abroad: Heredia - Latin University of Costa Rica Photo Sol Education Abroad: Heredia - Latin University of Costa Rica Photo Sol Education Abroad: Heredia - Latin University of Costa Rica Photo Sol Education Abroad: Heredia - Latin University of Costa Rica Photo Sol Education Abroad: Heredia - Latin University of Costa Rica Photo

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.

I never really felt stressed out when it came to school work, the class load I took (5 classes, 15 credits) was perfect for me. Be prepared for the classes with locals to be a little tough though.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Janiva and Jessenia are both beyond amazing... You can tell they really do care about us immensely.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host mom was crazy similar to my mom in the US, I could not have been placed better!

* Food:

My host mom was nice enough to try and give me a variety of food at home, I don't think I had the same thing twice all throughout the semester!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Besides the piropos (catcalls) which I will never get used to, Ticos couldn't be nicer.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

As long as you do not walk anywhere alone at night, Heredia is overall very safe. It is always important though to be mindful of where you are, and where your belongings are when traveling.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Finances

* 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 did not save up enough for this trip, I would recommend about $2,000 if you would like to travel when you have free weekends.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? It varies. When I traveled for a weekend, I traveled cheap. About $50 total if I stayed in a cheap hostel.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Every paycheck you get, put aside half or a quarter of it in a savings account. By training yourself to only spend a chunk of your paycheck every time you get it, you're not only saving but learning to live frugally as well.

Language

* 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

There was always motivation to speak spanish! We had contests, and when you make friends with the locals its a great way to practice as well.

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? Spanish Linguistics
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? Really, really, push yourself to speak the language all the time. Yes, you might feel embarrassed because you don't want to make a mistake and sound dumb, but people will always correct you nicely! That's part of the learning process.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • Excursions
  • The directors
* What could be improved?
  • Can't think of anything...
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Bring more cute clothes! Costa Ricans dress up a lot, they like to look nice even while just going to the University.