Embracing Pura Vida in heart, mind, body, and soul. Past Review

By (California State University - Stanislaus) - abroad from 06/03/2017 to 08/05/2017 with

Study Abroad Programs in Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
SOL is an excellent Spanish-learning immersion program that provides a safe and enriching environment in which to improve your Spanish language skills and embrace the Costarricense culture and lifestyle. The provided excursions were a marvelous way to see the country, bond with SOLmates, and practice what was being taught in the classrooms. The classes themselves were all taught by incredible professors who structured their lessons to best benefit the students. The intercambio classes that were offered were also an incredible opportunity to engage with local students. The university is located in Heredia, which is a safe place to live and full of friendly people. Of course, my tico family was wonderful; they always provided me with meals, good conversation, and included me in family activities. My experience abroad was made much more valuable by the time I was able to spend with them. This program is beneficial to Spanish speakers of any level. I know I will be leaving here as a more educated and confident woman, inspired by the beauty of the Spanish language, the country of Costa Rica, and the kind tico people. Pura Vida!

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.

Every professor that I met was kind and intelligent. The courses were educational but also fun, and taught information that was applicable to real life situations.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

All of the on-site directors employed by SOL are AMAZING. I could not have been more pleased with every single one of them. Thank you Jessenia, Adriana, Janiva, Angie, and Leydie!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host family was extremely kind. I was always provided with delicious meals, a clean environment, and a lot of familial love. They took me on additional excursions, included me in conversations, and shared the values & traditions of Costa Rica with me.

* Food:

My meals were always delicious. I am lactose intolerant and my mamática bought lactose free milk especially for me!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I was immersed in the culture of my family, and also whenever I went to town. Speaking with the shop owners, market vendors, street policemen, and other various Ticos gave me practice with my Spanish and a glimpse into the everyday life of the people here.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

From the very start, the directors were open about potential health issues that could develop from a change in diet and environment, and they let us know that they were available 24/7 for either advice or assistance with medical attention. Thankfully we were not exposed to any extreme health threats.

* Safety:

Heredia is a safe place in which to life. I felt comfortable walking on my own (in the daylight) but would recommend groups or pairs just as a preventative measure. Most Ticos are extremely friendly, and it was easy to tell when it would be wiser to keep my eyes averted,

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

SOL is a program that I would like to be a part of in the future, whether by utilizing their services again, by representing them to my university, or by (one day) being a host mother, if possible!


* 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 found it was very easy to live on my student budget. Taxis and bus or train fare were extremely reasonable, and I had more than enough for snacks and souvenirs. However, I did not plan many extra personal excursions nor do I drink, thus saving money by not paying cover charges for bars or bar tabs.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? <$100.00 on average
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Clothing is generally overpriced while food is often the same price as in the US or a little cheaper. This does not include drinks at the bars. Be careful with tourist places - some charge enormous amounts for an item you can find much cheaper elsewhere.


* 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

It was recommended to talk among ourselves (in the SOL program) in Spanish, as well as to talk to locals.

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 2
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Do your best to avoid English (native language) music, movies, news, etc. including Social Media feeds! Instead try out the aforementioned items in your target language. Also, don't be afraid to practice talking with local people! They are kind and are more than willing to help you.

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?
  • Host Family
  • Excursions
  • The Directors
* What could be improved?
  • More volunteer activities
  • Provide recommendations of places to go or visit
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I was pretty well prepared coming into it. SOL did a good job of providing all the necessary information beforehand. Perhaps to bring sturdier sandals, because there is a lot of walking on not-so-smooth streets.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!