PURA VIDA! My new rule to live by. Past Review

By (Mechanical Engineering., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) - abroad from 07/17/2013 to 09/28/2013 with

The GREEN Program: Peru - Water Resource Management & Sustainable Practices

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned the inner workings of renewable energy production in a way I could never have achieved in America, and the importance of other political fields to bring the technologies to their feet. I made some close friendships with my group mates and counselors which I will carry with me for years to come (we still communicate every day). The experience is something i will carry with me for years and years to come and has come to define what I want to do with my career.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Although we experienced a multitude of Costa Rica's cultural aspects, the focal point of the program was to have a first-hand learning experience about the vital frontier technologies in renewable energy that Costa Rica is hosting. I witnessed the inner workings of hydroelectric, biomass, solar, geothermal, and wind turbine energy production, along with the environmental policies that make it happen and all of the contributions in between. Needless to say, the experience was priceless.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The counselors, instructors, and tour guides of the program are the true backbone of the operation which make it such a beautiful and fulfilling experience. They are all students who were once in your shoes and fell in love with the program so much that they couldn't leave it in the past. They share the same innovative and worldly mindset as you probably have, and simply ooze real-world knowledge of renewable energy sciences and it's role and implementation in our world!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The living situation blew my expectations out of the water. Every hotel we stayed in was remarkably hospitable with everything from pools to hot-tubs to full bar/restaurants on a beautiful deck, not to mention much of these provisions were powered and designed with sustainable and natural means.

* Food:

There was never a moment where i felt as though i was not comfortably fed and taken care of, which is usually a concern of mine as i have a large appetite. There is fresh-cut fruit and over 5 options (a vegetarian friendly one of course!) for each meal however, by the end of the trip i had eaten over a lifetime's share of rice and black beans.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

This aspect of the journey was an important one for me as i am not one for fancy tourist traps in any sort of way. I was not left disappointed. We stayed in the towns of Tilaran and Tamarindo, both of which are very hospitable but modest towns. The locals in Costa Rica were surprisingly welcoming and interested in us and why we were there, which (lets be honest) is a rare experience for someone from the United States to have.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Fortunately there were no dire stuations where somebody's health was in jeopardy, however the counselors had any and all necesary medical items and knowledges were a situation tlike that to come up. Costa Rica, however, is not heavily populated and the nearest hospital was around 45 minutes away.

* Safety:

Costa Rica's population is truly an anomaly in our modern world in that they are welcoming to all walks of life, especially those who are there to get educated about environmental protection and sciences. We were told to stick with at least one person as we stroll through town, but I can sincerely say that there was never a point in time where i felt unsafe or unwanted by the locals.

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)

The program recommends $200 in disposable cash for the program. Almost all food, shelter, and traveling costs are provided however I came across so many things that I wanted to take home as souvenirs that my $200 didnt make it past the first 5 days.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50, if that.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? YES! the last three days are spent on the beach in Tamarindo. Your going to want everything you see there, not to mention some drinks at the bar for a couple of the nights. They recommend $200 for the entire program, but i reccomend $200 for those three days alone!


* 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

They did their best to teach us the fundamentals of communicating in Spanish, however our tour guides were from the town, knew the dialect, and were present at all times.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Spanish 4, high school
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? Read up on the brief exchanges of words such as greetings in a bar/restaurant or at registers in a star. Costa Rica has got some distinct sayings that is only used in Costa Rica, the most important of which: PURA VIDA!!!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • ALL people involved
  • The learning atmosphere
  • The jaw-dropping wonders of Costa Rica's natural world
* What could be improved?
  • People like you joining in!
  • the application process and the GREEN website
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? It's not customary to tip in bars or restaurants there. Your going to fall in love everything you see so make sure you have a good reason to go back home, (for your families sake) :)