The Gringa experience in Costa Rica Past Review

By (Business Administration, SUNY - College at Geneseo) for

SUNY Geneseo: Heredia - Centro de Estudios Hispánicos de la Universidad Nacional

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It really improved my Spanish - it is now more of a second nature when I speak, and I feel more comfortable speaking in class. I gained a stronger cultural outlook and had a good experience, but it was not as intensive as I had hoped. I really enjoyed being able to travel throughout the country because I saw some beautiful sights, but I would have preferred to study in Spain and visit Costa Rica simply as a tourist

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Workload was considerably less than that of full semester Geneseo courses. The grading system was considerably different as well - I'm pretty sure that everyone in each class got an A. Living with a host family was a more helpful method of improving my spanish.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Norma was helpful, but the classes were not as challenging or applicable to our abroad situation as we wouldve liked. Some students from other schools were not as advanced in Spanish and so some of the classes were dumbed down. There should be an aptitude test to determine your skill before letting anyone go to a study abroad program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My house was 14 blocks from class, and I was one of the few people who was able to walk to the university instead of taking the bus.

* Food:

My host mother made me some disgusting food for breakfast and lunch - it was obvious she was trying to do something cheap and easy, despite the fact that they were a well off family. She would buy her children take out for lunch and I would get a meat-spread sandwich on white bread that was not reflective of Costa Rican culture by any means

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

One of my fellow classmates had an allergic reaction to aspirin, which she didnt know she was allergic to and they sat her in the directors office, took 10 minutes to call for help, at which point her throat was closing, so we carried her across the street to the university health center, went back to get her things, and the ambulance had just arrived (30 minutes after the initial call). This frightened many of the students because the situation could have been much more severe, had she had a stronger initial reaxtion

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* 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? $500? Traveling costs
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? We had to pay for books


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 302
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

My host family did not speak any english, and we spoke frequently, which caused me to say a variety of different things I would never have to say in a classroom setting, greatly expanding my vocabulary. My family also noticed the improvement in my speech by the end of the six weeks. They noticed that I was speaking faster and more clearly. Because Costa Rica has many tourists, the hotels and weekend trips did not require us to speak Spanish, which detracted from our practice time. When Ticos recognized that our spanish was slower, or if we struggled for a word, they would immediately start speaking english, whcih was frustrating. However, finding the right buses from Heredia to San Jose and within San Jose required a lot of spanish.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

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  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

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  • Americans