So Meaningful I Got a Tattoo! September 29, 2015

By (Education, Xavier University) - abroad from 05/16/2015 to 06/27/2015 with

Sol Education Abroad - Study Abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica at Universidad Latina de Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much about the culture and even more, the language. I wish I could have stayed longer! But I am so happy that I was able to experience it all with the people I did.

Review Photos

Sol Education Abroad: Heredia - Study Abroad at Universidad Latina de Costa Rica Photo Sol Education Abroad: Heredia - Study Abroad at Universidad Latina de Costa Rica Photo Sol Education Abroad: Heredia - Study Abroad at Universidad Latina de Costa Rica Photo Sol Education Abroad: Heredia - Study Abroad at Universidad Latina de Costa Rica Photo Sol Education Abroad: Heredia - Study Abroad at Universidad Latina de 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 came in already knowing a sufficient amount of Spanish, but I had learned even more when being submerged in the culture. Everyone around me spoke Spanish which forced me to improve my language even better and not only did my vocabulary grow but my fluency grew a lot more as well.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The country is absolutely amazing!!! I love Costa Rica and they know how to tend to tourists. They are fortunate enough to have lots of beautiful attractions just by nature and the people are just as beautiful as the nature. All the people are friendly and welcoming. They are normally shy, so as an American we all seem overly outgoing, but they are great and genuine people!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

It was really great! My host family was the best thing that had ever happened to me when living in that country. They made me feel like I was at home and that my host mother treated me like I was her daughter and took really good care of me. The food was on point and i wish I had the ingredients, because it was absolutely amazing!I loved it. I had two roommates who lived in separate rooms and they were nice to be with. I learned more about people from the US who were unlike myself. We shared two bathrooms and the housing space was roomy and sufficient.

* Food:

One of the best ways to learn about the culture is to eat the food and staying with a host family is one of the best ways to do that. My host family cooked a traditional meal every meal. It is good because the food is similar to ours, but normally just prepared in a different way. It is also good that we can drink the tap water in the country so it makes for convenience when leaving the house. Food was absolutely amazing and for some great miracle, much of the food is a lot cheaper there than here, so a little money goes a long way!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt really integrated with the culture! I went to a club at the school that mixed local students with the foreign students and we talked to them in spanish to practice and they talked to us in english to practice, so we were both helping each other. We talked a lot about our varying cultures which I liked because I made a few friends there that I still keep in contact with today! Everything is just so amazing

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not have any experience with healthcare but some of my friends did. It was easily accesible, and even though it was somewhat inconvenient to go through, it was a fairly easy process and everything ended turning out to be okay.

* Safety:

I felt fairly safe in the neighborhoods and in the area I stayed. The people are fairly nice, but all people should be more cautious at night. When going out, there are always people that are not as nice as they seem, and my advice is to just be aware of your surrounds and stay with your friends and listen to them, especially in situations where you may not be as cognitively aware of your surroundings. But overall, I felt pretty safe in all the environments I was in and I feel lucky that I was able to study abroad and I did not have to worry about my safety.

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)

It was really easy! The food is a lot less expensive so it saves you more money for souvenirs and more fun activities! Since you live in a host family, buying food is not even all that necessary either.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $30, not including shopping :)
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? The conversion from colones to dollars is pretty easy, so just think in your head, if you would not buy it for that price in the US, you probably should not buy it in Costa Rica either.

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

They really encouraged us to practice at all times and when giving group instructions, it would be in spanish and if needed, they would translate to english.

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? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Spanish 305-Spanish literature
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? Try to make sure that even when with your american friends that you are still practicing your spanish. Sometimes it is hard because it is your first language, but if you really want to improve you have to keep speaking it with everyone. My friends and I had a challenge that we would only speak Spanish for a whole week (excluding speaking to family) and try to get more involved with the locals, because they can really help you improve.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • The locals
  • My host family
  • The American friends that will be at my wedding
* What could be improved?
  • more activities during the week?
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew that the classes would be a comfortable challenge and all in Spanish

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.