Past Review

By (Biology B.S., SUNY - Binghamton) for

SUNY Binghamton: Traveling - Tropical Forest Workshop

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I had an incredible experience. I learned a lot and tried a ton of new things. I saw things that I never thought I would and maybe never will again. It was amazing to see how a totally different class of people lived.

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.

It was an amazing experience. We learned in a completely different way, and were able to interact with local people. We did a lot of hands-on learning and we were able to see almost everything we were talking about, from deforestation to various species of monkeys and birds.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

We didn't exactly have a host country program administration. Everything was taken care of by Richard Andrus or Mary Jawlik, who lives at the Tropical Forestry Initiative.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We lived in cabins at the Tropical Forestry Initiative. <br /><br /> Our housing consisted of cabins at the Tropical Forestry Initiative. There were three total, and they were convenient because they kept us very near the main house, which is where we got everything done from eating to lecturing to hanging out. The cabins were very open so insects could enter, but this was what most of us knew to expect. The cabins were kept clean by us, and were also cleaned several times by the local women who also cooked for us. Sheets and mosquito nets were provided for us, but everything else we were expected to bring. There was an adequate shower, and all meals were provided for us.

* Food:

The food was excellent, but rice and beans were served with every meal including breakfast, and there was not a lot of variety, so that by the end of the trip we were tired of it.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We were able to attend a local festival that the community held, to attend a celebration day at the local school, and to play several soccer games with the locals, among other things. Mostly we joined in on what the locals were doing, TFI did not arrange any special events for this purpose.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Costa Rica has relatively safe cities, with not very much crime. We hung out in safe areas. The local wildlife is not a problem, except for some venomous snakes, and when I asked Mary Jawlik I got the impression that they were well-prepared should an incident happen. Costa Rica does not have a lot of diseases to worry about, and is not a major maleria area.

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? Difficult to say, since we only spent money when we took trips, and then mostly if you wanted souvenirs.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Prof Andrus says to bring about $350, I would recommend at least a hundred more just in case. Also he says that 20s are ok to bring, but I found that smaller bills were helpful since it was easier to get change in the local currency from small bills.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
Language acquisition improvement?

Most people around us spoke Spanish, but there were enough Spanish-speaking people on the program that it was necessary only to know a little bit of Spanish to be able to get around with the help of our fellow students. We had to know a little bit of Spanish just to get around every day, but this was easy to pick up with the help of fellow students and the local people, who were very patient with us.

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
* 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 do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? People who have a sense of adventure and don't worry about bugs or getting dirty. Be willing to try a lot of new things without being too squeemish.