Pura Vida Past Review

By (Elementary Education, Stephen F. Austin State University) - abroad from 08/06/2012 to 08/19/2012 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Being sort of "thrown into" a culture that is completely different from my own and not knowing the language definitely showed me how ESL students might feel when coming into my classroom with no knowledge of English or American culture.

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Dr. Armstrong knows just about everything there is to know about Costa Rica, and both he and Dr. Redfield were a lot of fun to be around on the trip.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

All of our hotels were very reasonably priced and had fairly comfortable amenities. Only one of our hotels had A/C, but the ones that didn't still had ceiling fans.

* Food:

We tried a lot of new foods in Costa Rica that were different from what I expected, but all very delicious! We ate A LOT of Cosadas, but they were all prepared differently, so they didn't get old.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I didn't know any Spanish before the trip, but there wasn't as big of a language barrier as I thought there would be. Everyone we met was very friendly and helpful.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I got a tetanus shot before the trip, but that's a standard vaccine that is recommended even in the U.S. I also got malaria pills to take every day during the trip, but I don't think they were completely necessary because insect repellant did a good job of preventing mosquito bites. I didn't have any health issues while in Costa Rica, but based on my experiences in the pharmacies and Dr. Armstrong's explanation of the Costa Rican healthcare system, everything is very accessible if one were to have health issues while on the trip.

* Safety:

I felt safe everywhere we went in Costa Rica. I think the only points of concern would be the unpredictable traffic in San Jose, being very cautious of the rip tides at the beaches, and the necessity to stick with your small group when going out during the day and at night.

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)

I probably spent a little less than $30 a day on food, and about $30 per night for the hotels. Not including the $880 round trip airfare, I think I spent a little more than the $1000 we received from the study abroad scholarship.

* Was housing included in your program cost? No
* Was food included in your program cost? No
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? About $500 each week.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Be sure to budget your money!! Everything was fairly inexpensive in Costa Rica, but it all adds up quickly!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* 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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The laid back Tico culture
  • Experiencing total immersion in a culture that is very different from my own.
  • Dr. Armstrong!!
* What could be improved?
  • Being able to pay SFA some of the cost ahead of time.
  • Require less for the Global Scholar orientation.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Costa Rican culture is way more laid back than I could have imagined and everyone was extremely friendly despite the differences in language and backgrounds.