so much learning in so little time June 20, 2019

By (Muhlenberg College) - abroad from 12/28/2018 to 05/08/2019 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 about another culture and the biodiversity in other parts of the world. Due to being there, I was able to see hands on new kinds of plants and environmental interactions instead than read about them. I also got to know how Costa Rica has become a leader in environmentalism and how we may be able to bring that back to the states. This program has changed me in so many ways I can not list them all.

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.

Lots of hands-on learning. Professors are helpful in understanding everything. All the trips help to solidify your understanding. Classes are hard at times, but if you try hard, you will do well.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

It was good. nothing to note.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Everyone has 1-2 roommates, and screens at the top of the walls make it so that sound travels from room to room easily. There is also no AC. Other than that it is standard dorm housing with shared showers(no hot water). The classroom is connected to the dorm, so it's easy to get to it and get your stuff. Everything is close together, so you don't have to go far to get to where you need to go. The campus is gorgeous, and the pool is very helpful on hot days.

* Food:

Food was excellent most days, although it gets repetitive after a while. Selection of veggies is ok but wish there were more that were not stewed. Eggs were very common in the food as the farm brings in many eggs a day. Plenty of food, so you never go hungry.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Lots of times to get involved with the local culture, some must be self-initiated and some the program sets up for you. They also do an excellent job of educating you about the culture. Basic understanding of Spanish is needed to be immersed, though.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not have any experiences with it. Friends who did seems happy enough with it.

* Safety:

They did everything to keep us safe. Never felt like I was in danger.

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

It was almost everything I wanted and more. I learned so much, and it helped figure out what I want to do in this field. I also met so many smart and kind people that I hope to stay in touch with for a long time. At no point did I regret picking this program.

Finances

* 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)

When on campus, no need to spend money at all. When off campus there were some expensive things, but if you are careful, you will not have to spend too much money. Most of my on-campus money went to the ice cream man down the street.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? most weeks $10-20, when I was having a weekend away or left campus for a day it was closer to 70-100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't leave campus and you won't spend money. Motels are cheap. If you don't, go to expensive places you won't spend a lot of money.

Language

* 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

You want us to use it every day. The support staff does not speak English, so they are plenty of times to use it.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Spanish 101
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? Go out into the world and speak to people

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?
  • Hands on learning
  • mix of of student interests
  • interactions with community
* What could be improved?
  • better mix of food
  • more time to study for finals
  • find out breaks earlier
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That Spanish would be very much needed. I did not know this so I did not practice my Spanish as much as I should have.

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.