San Jose, Costa Rica- Universidad Veritas: Best Five Months of My Life Up to Date Past Review

By (Biology and Spanish, University of Northern Iowa) for

Universidad Veritas: San José - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This experience impacted me more than I ever thought it would. I learned so much about myself and my ability to live and travel independently. I have new appreciations for so many things, especially of culture, and especially Latin American culture. I am much more aware of issues regarding these cultures now in my day to day life, and am much more of an advocate for certain things I did not even know I was passionate about. I also became so much more appreciative and in love with traveling, and I cannot wait for my next chance to be able to explore somewhere new, or to come back to Costa Rica. 100% worthwhile!

Review Photos

Direct Enrollment: San Jose - Study Abroad at Universidad VERITAS Photo

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Universidad Veritas
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.

I felt that the classes offered were very practical- the morning Spanish intensive courses were extremely helpful to me in learning the language, and I thought they were accurate in the levels of Spanish they offered. I also thought that the activities and assignments for class were appropriate, and although at times there was plenty of work to do, I felt that it was very beneficial. I learned more in this one semester of learning Spanish language than I have in all 6 of the previous years I have studied Spanish. My only complaint would be that a lot of the Spanish elective were offered at the same times, so I was not able to choose all of my preferred classes.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Since I went as sort of an exchange from my home university, I was independent in my host country- I had no faculty leader. However, the international advisors at the university were pretty helpful- they were definitely resourceful people I could go to if I had a problem.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I am extremely satisfied with my host family experience. I feel very lucky to have been placed with a fantastic local family who took me in as one of their own. They provided two meals a day, laundry once a week, my own bedroom and bathroom, and weekly cleaning of my room. That was only what was on paper, though. What they actually gave me was incredible new relationships, great conversation, excellent practice in the language, safety and comfort, and a place I definitely called home with people I called family.

* Food:

I came to Costa Rica accustomed to a vegetarian diet, and had hoped to continue that during my semester abroad while still trying to eat all the cultural foods I could. I was prepared, though, to change eating habits if my host family was unwilling to meet those requests. However, my host mother was completely accepting of my wishes and was an exceptional cook. I had varied foods, and a lot of traditional foods. I have absolutely no complaints about the food, and I loved many of the local dishes. For lunch, there were many small "sodas"- restaurants that cook casados (a platter with rice, beans, usually a salad or two, fried plantains, your choice of meat, and a fresh fruit drink). This lunch option was usually a very economical choice- not to mention delicious!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I had countless cultural experiences- many more than I could even begin to summarize in this small box. I traveled using public transportation just about every weekend and tried to go to as many places I could that were not spilling over with tourists. I asked a lot of locals where to go, and tried to spend as much time as possible with locals rather than just other international students. However, I had many great experiences with other United States students as well!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I had no health problems during my time there, so I can't comment much on this. I did have a few friends who had to visit the hospital or a clinic for various reasons, and it seemed that although they had to wait quite a while, they got the care they needed. As far as safety goes, San José is a little bit of a dangerous city. The particular neighborhood I lived in felt pretty safe to me, although there were a few cases of theft to other international students. In my semester there, I had no real problems. If one is smart with being in cities, they will be fine. (Before coming, I had never really spent time in big cities, but I learned quickly.) The biggest thing is just not walking around with big expensive things or carrying large amounts of money.

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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • International Students

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Intensive Spanish classes were very worthwhile for me
  • Central location
  • The matching with host families so one doesn't need to worry about a place to live or food every day
* What could be improved?
  • Class offerings and times
  • More opportunities to mix with the local students
  • The amount of days in class (maybe Fridays off, so you could travel more easily)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The best advice I could give is just to go there and throw yourself into the culture. Do everything you can to just immerse yourself and try as hard as possible to speak the most amount of Spanish you are able. Make friends with the locals (Ticos) and do what they do. You will quickly adapt, and it will make the experience so much more enlightening and growing, and also much less foreign. Let it become your real life instead of like a vacation. Travel around and see things- the volcanoes, the beaches, the mountains, the rainforest.. But also give back to the community. Although Costa Rica is more developed than other Latin American countries, there is still a lot of poverty. A person that would benefit from this program is one that is learning Spanish- I would say one who already knows a bit of Spanish. Also, someone who loves the outdoors and loves to explore things- the biodiversity in Costa Rica is fantastic! Of course, the person should be willing and wanting to be completely immersed in the culture.