Amazing people, beautiful places, the pura vida life! Take me back! Past Review

By (Middlebury College) - abroad from 09/05/2011 to 12/08/2011 with

The School for Field Studies / SFS: Costa Rica – Ecological Resilience Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained so much from this experience. From the classes I learned about the many aspects of sustainable development. We looked at the issues form multiple perspectives and used Costa Rica as a case study. I learned how to conduct an extended research project during the 1 month directed research component of the program. We organized, conducted and presented our research. Finally, I gained many lasting friendships with the other students in the program. Overall this was one of the most enriching experiences of my life.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The courses were challenging but very engaging. There were many hands on experiences that were very enriching.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program is really well organized and they keep you very busy. If you are looking for lots of independent time, this probably isn't the best option because your time is very structured.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The housing for this program was very simple. The 28 students in the program live in one dorm building. It is a communal living atmosphere that reminded me of living in a house. If your not expecting anything too fancy, it really is a comfortable place to live for 3 months.

* Food:

Costa Rican food is simple but I really liked it! The center does a good job of preparing food but it does get a little boring towards the end. You always have the option to go out to eat in town which is nice!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never had any health problems, but during my course everybody was taken care of really well and there were no issues.

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe at the program. In fact the program has many rules in place to help keep students safe such as a curfew. Also, the center has a gate and a guard.

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)

It is pretty easily to live cheaply because everything is included in the program costs. You decide how much money you want to spend based on how many times you go into town for food and drinks. Also another expense are the breaks where you leave campus. However it is still pretty easy to travel cheaply in Costa Rica.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
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? Only take out of the ATM the amount of money that you want to spend for a certain period of time. Once you run out, don't let yourself take out more.


* 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

All of the courses (except the Spanish course) are taught in english. This is not an immersion program but you do get chances to use spanish if you want to.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
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? High School IB Spanish
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? Don't be afraid to strike up conversations with locals that you meet. In Costa Rica, most people were very helpful with the language and they wanted to help us learn.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* 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?
  • The professors were very knowledgeable and engaging. Also they are really great people that you get to know outside of the classroom.
  • The 27 fellow students that did the program with me were some of the most passionate, interesting people I have ever met. We were all excited to be there and learn a lot together. I am happy to call them all life-long friends.
  • The chance to travel and see so many parts of the country is incredible. We went on 5 or 6 field trips within Costa Rica and on an extended trip to Panama. These opportunities for hands-on experiences were so valuable to me.
* What could be improved?
  • A longer home-stay experience.
  • A bit more free time. The program feels a little over-structered at times.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I know now how amazing of an opportunity it was and how amazing the people around me were. I was a little bit timid to jump in and immerse myself at the beginning of the program. Once I did, it was so incredible! i wish I would have done it form the very start!