Life Changing Experience in Costa Rica! Past Review

By (Elementary 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?
Studying abroad was truely a life-changing experience that impacted my life in many positive ways. I increased in maturity, independence, self-reliance and openness to new experiences. While on this trip i made friendships with some of the most amazing girls that I would have never meeet if werent for this trip. I also became more aware of my own values and culture and accepting of those whose values and lifestyles differ from my own. While on this trip I became very appericated of the things I take for granted every day. This trip really opened my eyes to how fourtunate I truley am.

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.

Dr. Armstong was an amazing teacher. We had just the right amount of work load. We all had to read articles every night and some nights teach what the article was about. We also had to journal are everyday experencies which I enjoyed because I will have this journal forever it is something that I have shared with my family and one day I will share with my children. We meet every night at 8 to have class from a hour to two hours. The class was very intersting and opened my eyes to a new idea of teaching with different cultures. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Dr. Amrstrong, Dr. olsen bill, and Rebecca were eaisly approachable, always offered assistance for anythign, knowlegable about Costa Rica and the cultural differences, and handle everything exteremly well.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The living experinces was amazing. We were able to see a variety of living arrangments. We were able to choose who wanted to room with among our fellow classmates. We did not need to buy anything with bedding all of the bedding was provided for us. We did however bring are own toiletries. Three nights we stayed in the city of San Jose at a hotel. Three nights we stayed in bungalos in the town of purto vejio. The view of the bungalos was gorgoues we were maybe 500 feet away from the beach. Next we went La Fortuna and stayed for two nights in a very seculed hotel. We were about 500 feet away from a volcano. It was awesome to be that close to a volcano and actually see the volcano in person. Next we Travel to Santa Elena and stayed two nights in a very nice hotel. Then we finally teaveled Quepos and stayed in condons. This was by far the nicest place we stayed. Quepos was by far my favorite part of the trip. I did not want to leave Costa Rica after spending time in Quepos. As the trip went on the down hill slope of the living arrangments were by far the best. Every place we stayed at the owners and employes were very warm, welcoming, and generous.

* Food:

The food in Costa Rica was amazing. I certainly have to talk about black beans and rice (gallo pinto). This simple, standard dish, often referred to as comida tipica, is the backbone of Costa Rican cuisine. The typical Costa Rican meal is called the casado and this includes rice, black bean, fried plantain (large banana), a type of meat (Fish, Chicken, or Beef) and a type of vegetable. I have never tasted better fruit in my life than in Costa Rica. All the fruits were very fresh ranging in from sweet to sour. My favoirte fruit was the Star Fruit. Star Fruit is a yellow-greenish color and when into slices it looks like five-pointed stars. The Star Fruit is tangy which I love.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Dr. Armstrong planned alot of cultrual attractions for us to see and do. While in Santa Elena we visted the Sky Trek and Sky Tram of Montverde. While there we went on a Sky Walk which was a guided tour through trails and suspension bridges. The tour gives you the opportunity to enjoy nature. While on the tour we saw exoctics plants and animals. Next we rode the Sky Tram to the top of the mountain. The Sky Tram lead us up to the Continental Divide and to one of the highest mountains of Monteverde. Sky Tram gave us a opportunity of intermediate the ride with short stops to observe the Arenal, Tenorio, Miravalles and Orosi volcanoes, the Nicoya gulf, and the Guanacaste plain. After we got off the Sky Tram we headed to my favorite part the Sky Trek. Sky Trek is a system of zip lines ranging from mountain to mountain, which together have a distance of 2.5 miles of linear cable. The tour gives you the opportunity to fly through a cable and have a unique experience of adventure and adrenaline at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. While on the tour thier were 5 observation towers that exceed the cloud forest treetops providing a breath taking view. My second favorite adventure we went on was the hike up the mile and half mountain to get to a waterfall. We next hiked down the mountain on steep steps to get to waterfall the view was magnificent. Once we made it down we were able to swim in the waterfall. The water was freezing but an experinece I would do again in a heart beat. While in Quepos we visted Manuel Antonio National Park. This park is home to many wild animals Squirrel Monkeys, Howler monkeysiguana, sloths, armadillos, and raccoons. The park offers two of most popular beaches, Playa Espadilla Sur and Playa Manuel Antonio. Manuel Antonio is one of the most beautiful beaches and was rated one of the top ten beaches in the world. In Purto Vejio a group of girls and I rented bikes and went on a 10 mile bike ride through Costa Rica. This experencies will be unforgotablle while on the bike ride we had a bike break down so we each took turns pumping one of the girls and trying to hold on to her bike and ride ours. On the way home I crashed haha the people in town very helpful and ran to help me up and gather all of my belongings I had with me. The costan ricans were all very helpful and friendly. I would defiantly suggest renting a bike and touring the costa rica it is a great to see the towns. We also visted a school in Chauita. I meet the most amazing woman while visiting the school her name was Mrs. Eidtha I will never forget this woman. Her main goal was do anything for children public education in that town. She viewed education as a higher standard and new that the children were the future of her country. The school broke my heart because there hardle any resourse avaialble for the teachers and students. I wished I has enough money to donate to thier school and help fix it up. This visit really made me reflect and be very appericate for the things I have. These children are hardley ever in air condiciton or heat. It breaks my heart to know that thier child all over the world not getting adequate resources.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

While in Coast Rica I always felt completley save. Costa Rica is a very peaceful place. Although like in any other county thier are dangers, but I was never scared to tour the town without are supvisor or the other shaperons. As a tourist are supvisor did teach how to be street smart and aware of are surrondings. The costan ricans were all very welcoming and helpful, but I would have never got in a car with a randon stranger there.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I probally spent about 50o dollars per week. This was including my hotel, eating, activies, travleing ,and suvioners. Each hotel cost anywhere from 30-50 dollars a night. Food I spent anywhere from 30-50 dollars a day depending on if I ordered drinks with a meal. The activies we did while in Costa Rica cost anywhere from 10-75 dollars. Traveling per week each bus fair was 10.00 dollars and by taxi about 4 dollars. Suviouners I spent about a 150 total.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? You can defiatnly spend less than 500 dollars per week. The best way to save money on food is eat breakfast at your hotel if it is included, have a small lunch for under 5.00, and dinner you can meals from 7.00-10.oo. Souvineers is by choice I would wait until the last day to by all souvineers unless there is just something you cant live without. The market is the best place for souvineers because you can bargain prices. Traveling it is cheaper to take a public bus than a taxi.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Everything!
* What could be improved?
  • Expanded the trip longer than two weeks.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I would say if you are thinking about going go ahead and persue the trip other wise you will wind regreting missing out on of the most amazing experiences in the world.