SFS-Science-based learning in the Costa Rican rainforests Past Review

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/30/2017 to 05/10/2017 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Yes, I learned all about ecosystems and cultures which I had never been exposed to before and saw sustainable living in practice.

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.

This program was academically rigorous-classes 6 days a week, scientific research and writing, lots of group/partner work.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Head administrator of the program was not present, made available, or open to having discussions with students. That being said, professors were very available and always willing to help.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

This is a science-based program, not focused on inter-cultural exchange. You have to go out of your way to get that sort of experience.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

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

The program did not do a good job at preparing students for communal living and learning. There were issues with racism and sexism that were not addressed until they reached a boiling point and minority students did not feel comfortable in the atmosphere created to stand up for themselves. This program is highly intense- a small group of students are living, doing chores, taking classes, going on field trips, and traveling together abroad and more steps need to be taken by the program to get students ready for this type of environment.


* 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)

Other than weekends away (3) and spring break, there were very few times when I had to spend any money.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 20
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? This program does not require you to spend a lot of money, all meals are paid for, etc.


* 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

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 20
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Talk to locals!!

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?
  • host family day
  • field trips
  • learning spanish
* What could be improved?
  • administrative staff's involvement
  • orientation
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? How intense a program like this would be with little privacy, free time, etc., you really need a good support system at home and at school to get you through it.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.