Costa Rica, Pura Vida, The Trip of a Lifetime Past Review

By (Special Education, Stephen F. Austin State University) for

Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA): Traveling - Student Teachers in Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This was really the best trip for me personally because I really am looking at teaching in more of an inner city setting. I think I now have more of an understanding and empathy for the parents of the children that I serve; I also think I understand more of their mindsets and backgrounds. I always thought that I had an open mind, however while being there; I felt that my boundaries were pushed and that I became a more culturally aware person.

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

This was such an amazing experience and I still cannot believe that I actually got to go. We had class in the evening where we would discuss articles that we had read during the day; small groups would facilitate and lead the discussions. It was so interesting to read the articles and then see its content in real life; it took application to a whole new level.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

While we were in Costa Rica, we were basically told to immerse ourselves as much as possible. We had a fairly flexible schedule, class every evening and then some scheduled excursions; outside of that we were told to explore, to interact and to become more familiar with a culture that is so different from our own. To me, this trip was the best at connecting classroom ideas with tangible, real world experience. Our group was great, however I think that it was leaning toward the large size; it was difficult, at times, to get bus tickets all together and very often we had to change our departure time. It was a wonderful class and whatever expectations I had, they were completely blown out of the water.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

The food was simple and very straight forward, much like the people of Costa Rica and I enjoyed it immensely.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We went on several excursions in the Costa Rica, the two that impact me the most were the trip to the school in Cahuita and the free day in La Fortuna. In Cahuita, we met Ms. Edith, who ran the school and her granddaughter, Keha. I loved taking to Keha and despite our language barriers she was so eager to show us the school and the country she calls home. In La Fortuna, we had a free day to explore and while exploring, I met a shop keeper, Maria, and she told me about her son and her experiences with education in their town. I also really loved the zip line adventure, even though I got a cable burn (par for the course I suppose).

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

We were given tons of safety information before leaving for this trip and I never felt unsafe. Before leaving we needed a tetanus booster and it was recommended that we get a malaria shot, I did not and was fine, I just made sure that I always had bug spray on.

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)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I wish that I had know about some of the price jumps for the excursions and the increase in some of the hotel prices. Outside of that, money wasn't really an issue as we had an included breakfast, were able to eat a light and fairly cheap lunch and then splurge for a better dinner. Honestly, it was a very easy country to manage money in.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None

Other Program Information

* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Excursions
  • The interaction with the native people
  • Discussions
* What could be improved?
  • Create more structure
  • Have more social interactions
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Any education major should consider taking this class. I know you may think it is not applicable to every teaching field, but it totally is. This class taught me more about how to relate to ELL students, and really students in general, who differ from myself in the way they think and work best. This is a program that really will change your life and the way you look at teaching, and it will make you a better teacher for it.