A freeing, eye-opening, and challenging adventure! Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) Past Review

By (Biology, General., Austin College) - abroad from 01/21/2014 to 05/06/2014 with

Study Abroad Programs in Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned many things. Academically-wise, I learned aspects of public health research, and I learned much about Costa Rican health system and their people/the indigenous. Personally, I gained confidence in myself and developed a more relaxed attitude. Yes, definitely worthwhile, it changed me in a good way.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Organized, welcoming, and wholesome.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Biological stations and homestays were both wonderful and interesting.

* Food:

More than adequate.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Had to opportunity to meet and talk to many locals, through personal exploration of the country and through the study abroad program.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Administrators/teachers were very helpful and caring, quickly sought healthcare if needed.

* Safety:

Never felt threatened.

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)

Food was already paid for. Most of out of pocket expenses were for personal souvenirs and tourism or eating out.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 0$ when at biological stations (most weeks), otherwise ~300 for free weeks
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Take the bus, it is the cheapest.


* 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

at the biological stations, spanish was not used because we were mostly isolated with people on our program. Otherwise, we had to use spanish for interviews for out projects.

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? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Intermediate
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 locals as much as possible.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Host Family
  • Hotel
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Host Family
  • Other
* 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?
  • Getting to know locals
  • Performing Research
  • Visiting indigenous peoples/doing clinics
* What could be improved?
  • More interaction with locals while at the biological stations
  • More homestay's / less time with people in our program
  • More challenging lectures/better professors
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That language skills improve quickly and drastically when you are living in that country. There was no need to be afraid to go just because I thought my spanish was not very good.

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.'