Pura pinche vida December 21, 2016

By (Texas State University-San Marcos) - abroad from 09/03/2016 to 12/17/2016 with

Sol Education Abroad- Heredia - Universidad Latina de Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
So. much. You learn so much about yourself in the context of another culture and how people, despite different cultures and social structures are so different yet so similar. Come with an open mind and the amount you will gain is infinite.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Great review for students with native-speaking parents and/or who are native speakers. I personally chose this program over others because it was Spanish immersive and I wanted to force myself to speak Spanish and take only classes in Spanish. Therefore this was a great choice for me although content varied per professor. Each professor I had however we're incredibly helpful and went out of the way to help students more so than any of my other college classes I had previously taken.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Both my director and co-director were not only incredibly helpful but indubitably insightful regarding all of our excursions and cultural activities. It was apparent each year they took the time to reflect upon the prior program and revise and tweak it for the incoming students. From the excursions to the cultural activities, each one was incredibly well-planned and detail-oriented.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I did have as close of a relationship with my host family as perhaps others but they were incredibly accommodating and took well care of me.

* Food:

My host mom was an incredible cook. No plate was served without rice or beans and Costa Ricans hardly eat red meat. Very much a vegetarian's paradise cuisine wise and so many delicious fruits to try.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It certainly helped I grew up with a Mexican background because the cultural were very similar but different enough I could appreciate the differences between the two. In addition, cultural activities, classes with locals and the excursions chosen and activities planned smooth out the integration process for those not as familiar with the customs and social norms.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Did not experience any health care issues however several students had varying serious health issues and all were handled immediately and properly thanks to the directors.

* Safety:

Personally, I never felt unsafe and I would walk a lot of the time after dark from other Sol mate's houses and/or the university.

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

I love Costa Rica and my experience abroad is one I will never forget and I look forward to carrying the many lessons I've learned forward as begin a career. However, I would love to explore the Oaxaca program.

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)

Eating out in Costa Rica is very pricey but is easily avoidable considering host families provide you with three meals a day. Therefore, it very tangible to live on a student's budget even so with traveling.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 20$
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? You can do a lot of traveling for an affordable cost while in Costa Rica. The program itself includes several paid excursions but I would personally recommend taking every free weekend you can to get out and see Costa Rica. I worked all summer before my semester abroad and used all the money I saved as spending money for my semester. Granted, I saved quite a bit but I still have a plentiful amount left over.

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

All day, every day. In addition, I felt our group was just incredibly willing to learn the language and awkwardly try to converse in Spanish just to get over the initial fear of saying something incorrect.

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 Literature, 3rd year level spanish class
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? Lose the fear of saying something incorrect and just let yourself immerse into the culture. Make tico friends, listen to Spanish music, talk to you host family and find books to read in Spanish. All of this can really help because you're surrounded by it and it can really propel a student's comprehension.

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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The people in my program
  • The freedom to travel
  • The culture
* What could be improved?
  • Cultural activities spread out more throughout the program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? To have packed lighter.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'