The experience that helped me shape my future January 23, 2017

By (Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania) - abroad from 12/26/2016 to 01/14/2017 with

Sol Education Abroad- Heredia - Universidad Latina de Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This experience was absolutely worth every penny I spent. I gained a better understanding of the Spanish language, the ability to comprehend Spanish without translating it into English in my head, and a love for the people and the country that will never go away.

Review Photos

Sol Education Abroad: Heredia - 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.

The professors at Universidad Latina were some of the most kind, caring, and supportive people I've ever met. We were a class of 6 girls and "la profe" called us "preciosas" and "mi amor." It was exhausting listening to and comprehending another language for such a big portion of the day, but it was totally worth it and I learned much more than I thought I could've.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The directors we worked with (Angie & Janiva) were amazing! They were always there when we needed anything. I felt supported every step of the way, but also there was a sense of independence that I enjoyed.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host mother is the most inspiring person I've probably ever met. I plan to stay in contact her for a long time. She was very accommodating and her house began to feel like home to me almost immediately.

* Food:

Amazing! It was so rich and flavorful, I would recommend trying everything you can while in Costa Rica.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I participated in a winter program, so we didn't have class with Costa Ricans (ticos.) However, I felt very welcome in my mama tica's home with the rest of her family. Talking with them (and my professor) was some of my best practice with the language and I learned a lot about the culture through their customs.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't need any vaccines and I didn't have any medical trouble while abroad. There was one student who had to go to the doctor and his appointment was scheduled quickly and efficiently.

* Safety:

It all comes down to being smart. They advise that you don't carry your wallet or phone out in the open and that you shouldn't walk at night. I followed those precautions and had no trouble at all. Taking taxis at night was never a problem either, but always stay with one or two people anyway! I felt very safe.

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

I will definitely be going back to Costa Rica to visit my host mother someday. I think the program was very well put together, and there was a lot of communication with everyone involved. Everyone there is so welcoming. Costa Rica was such a rich culture, and a nice breath of fresh air compared to the current climate in the United States.

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 spent about $150 total for my 3 weeks in Costa Rica. I was able to do this because most meals were included and I don't buy too many souvenirs.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Maybe 10 dollars because my host mother cooked every meal and packed lunch for us.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Some people spent double what I spent on the trip if they wanted to get a lot of souvenirs, but I did fine with $150. I think I spent the most money on taxis and the few souvenirs that I brought home. It's important not to walk at night, especially alone, so taxi money was money I was willing to spend. It's great when you have a group of people and can split the fare.

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

Our director, Angie spoke to us in Spanish 80% of the time. She only used English when there were instructions very important for our safety. When we asked her questions in English, she would smile and say ¿Español? Our class was also completely taught in Spanish, we watched documentaries with no subtitles, and my host mother did not speak English. I wish I spoke more Spanish to my fellow Sol Mates though!

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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I took Spanish 204, 206, and 208 the semester before I left. 208 was a Spanish elective for health professions.
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? Talk to your Sol Mates in Spanish, help each other figure out ways to say things. Don't just revert back to English because it's easier! Don't get frustrated if you're having trouble understanding in class, it really gets better every day and the professors are there to help you if you need it. My host mom was also very supportive and offered to help with school work when we struggled.

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

  • 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?
  • My host family experience
  • Trips/excursions - white water rafting
  • The ability to speak Spanish for the majority of every day
* What could be improved?
  • Offer more classes (I took a culture class and an advanced language class could've been useful) - I still enjoyed the class a lot!
  • More communication between the university and Sol's program
  • Just the smallest bit of more free time
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? People will always find a way to make an experience negative. I knew it before going on the trip, but I still let it get to me a little bit. I wish I was more proactive in stomping out negativity, because one person's attitude when they're having trouble adapting can really bring down the whole group. Nevertheless, my experience wasn't negative at all and I would never trade it for anything.

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.