The Most Memorable Experience of My Life January 15, 2019

By (University of Houston) - abroad from 01/26/2019 to 01/12/2019 with

Study Abroad Programs in Costa Rica

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained best friends and learned so much about a new culture, as well as about myself. This experience was indisputably worthwhile and I would do it again tomorrow. I also realized a new dream of one day living abroad permanently.

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.

This course was my number one favorite Spanish course I have ever taken. The school was beautiful, the professor was phenomenal and engaging, and I learned so much despite the short length of my trip.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Angie and Jess, the study abroad guides, were helpful and informative. They understood the varying degrees of Spanish knowledge amongst our group and catered as best they could to everyone. Every activity we did was as good as the last, and all of this ultimately led to our group becoming close very quickly. I would have changed nothing.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was perfectly matched with my host family. I said I would enjoy a house with pets and ended up with 6 dogs, which is a dream. My family was small and quiet, which is exactly like my family at home. My hosts were kind and accommodating and I hope to keep in touch with them in the future.

* Food:

So, I would actually not say Costa Rican food is my all time favorite. However, I do really enjoy trying new things, and I got to do a lot of that. My favorite foods were most definitely the pineapple, starfruit, guanabana, tamarindo, and the coffee.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt very in touch with the culture, and actually completely fell in love with it. My life in the US is quite fast-paced and busy, and Costa Rica was a complete 180 flip for me. I loved and respected the people, the language, and the culture. I feel as if I was able to actively and effectively practice Costa Rican customs while on my abroad trip.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I actually did not have any health problems while on my trip, and the only other instance I can think of is another girl getting food poisoning. This was handled with care and discretion, and she ended up being able to participate in the activities of the day.

* Safety:

It was a rare feeling to feel unsafe in Costa Rica, and I would definitely say that I feel unsafe in the US much more frequently. By the end of my trip, I was confident in my ability to travel alone without fear. I was fully informed of all safety precautions I should take, and nobody on my trip had any safety issues.

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

Everything through Sol was seamless and helpful. They were flexible with students and I wouldn't change a thing. Without a doubt, I would trust Sol to take me abroad again.

Finances

* 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)

It was easy to budget effectively in Costa Rica, especially considering the exchange rate in the favor of the dollar.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? 1. You will probably need way less money than you think you do. 2. Don't take all your money out with you every time you leave. 3. Don't exchange all your dollars for the other currency in the beginning, do it as you need it. 4. Keep some money on a debit card, they're easier and faster and you avoid unnecessarily exchanging your dollars.

Language

* 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

We were encouraged to speak only Spanish as often as possible, especially in school and at home. Many retail and food service workers spoke no English, so you don't always have the choice to speak your native language.

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 1
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? 1. Use apps like Duolingo before you go, especially if you haven't taken a course in a while. 2. Befriend those in your group who are higher level Spanish speakers than you, because you can learn a lot from them. 3. Don't be embarrassed about mispronunciation or false grammar, because a lot of the natives you speak to will also be trying to learn English. Everyone can always learn from one another.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • 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?
  • All of the activities.
  • The friends I made.
  • The cultural immersion.
* What could be improved?
  • I would have liked more activities in the last week.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew how hard it would be to reenter the United States, and how quickly I would adapt to the new customs. I almost had more culture shock returning to the US than entering Costa Rica.

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 Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.