The best way to start off my college experience Past Review

By (Undeclared, Middlebury College) - abroad from 09/07/2015 to 12/17/2015 with

The School for Field Studies / SFS: Costa Rica - Sustainable Development Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about sustainable development and Costa Rica during my time there but it was also a great experience where I met a lot of great people and had a lot of great experiences that I will never forget.

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 academic rigor was enough to provide a basic and relatively sophisticated understanding of the course material and how it was pertinent to sustainable development without being incredibly overwhelming

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Everyone was incredibly welcoming and helpful throughout the semester.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Housing exceeded my expectations

* Food:

The food was excellent

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

While there was some integration with the town through community outreach and observance of community events, I would have preferred something along the lines of a longer home-stay.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never required any healthcare, but my peers who did had great experiences.

* Safety:

At no point did I feel unsafe

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

I felt that I gained a lot from this experience and I am incredibly glad that I did it. There is nothing that I regret about this experience


* 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 very easy to live there on a students budget, almost all housing, food and expenses were provided for except on break.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Depending on the week it could be from $0-$20.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Group taxis are relatively cheap, but the best method for getting around is the buses even if they can be a little confusing at times.


* 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

The program encouraged the use of Spanish, however at times it became difficult because many locals wanted to practice their English. Also in groups generally the strongest speaker would take the lead.

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? High school AP 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? Learn Costa Rican phrases, and practice speaking whenever you can in order to make speaking in Spanish more relaxed and fluid.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Host Family
  • Hotel
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Other
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Professors
  • Field Trips
  • Food
* What could be improved?
  • A little more freedom
  • Wifi
  • More fans
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? A revised packing list. While the packing list provided by the program is pretty eclectic and provides a good baseline for what you need to bring. Myself and my peers found ourselves bring a lot of things we did not need, while forgetting somethings we would have appreciated.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Principles of Resource Management

Course Department:
Instructor: Dr. Achim Häger
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class was sufficiently difficult and focused in order to discuss resource management. Using both Costa Rica and Nicaragua as case studies for understanding how resource affects development and the environment. The professor was incredibly knowledgeable and well prepared.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Tropical Ecology and Sustainable Development

Course Department: Biology
Instructor: Dr. J. Edgardo Arevalo
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class was sufficiently challenging in order to warrant a good understanding of the material. Professor Arevalo was more than prepared and demonstrated his vast knowledge on tropical ecology during the field trips, often using examples on the trips to reinforce the concepts from the calss
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Economics and Ethics of Sustainable development

Course Department:
Instructor: Mary E. Little
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class was on par with the other classes in difficulty and rigor. It had field trips which involved interacting with a variety of different people involved in NGOs, and community leaders. Students were assessed through papers, exams and participation. The professor was knowledgeable and passionate about the subject matter
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Directed Research

Course Department:
Instructor: Edgardo Arévalo, Ph.D
Instruction Language: English
Comments: During the last month of the SFS Costa Rica program, we spent time researching as well as conducting field work at Carara National Park, Costa Rica. Dr. Arévalo as well as the ornithologist from the University of Costa Rica were very knowledgeable and helped to facilitate active, hands-on learning and productive field research. This section of the program demanded high amounts of participation . We were assessed based on our field work, a paper, a presentation, and a poster. This was the most rigorous part of the program.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Language, Culture, and Society of Costa Rica

Course Department:
Instructor: Gerardo Avalos, Ph.D. and Touch Learning
Instruction Language: English and Spanish
Comments: Dr. Avalos passionately educated us on Costa Rican customs as well as the social, political, and economic issues that are currently pressing to Costa Ricans as well as Nicaraguans. While this class had less field trips we were did go into Atenas for the Costa Rican independence day celebration on September 15th. We were also paired up with local families. We were always encouraged to go into town and explore Costa Rica during our down time in order to better understand the culture. The English portion of this class was assessed using participation and papers. The language section of this class was outsourced to a local company specializing in teaching English to Spanish speakers and Spanish to English speakers. This section was divided into three levels. I was put into the intermediate level, and I felt the focus on speaking was a great way to develop and reinforce our communication skills in Spanish. The instructors were very helpful and prepared. This section was assessed using exams, projects, and speaking simulations.
Credit Transfer Issues: