I studied Spanish abroad in San Jose and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica in Summer 2005. It was a spectacular experience, in so many ways. First of all – academically. Learning a foreign language was TOUGH for me. I started trying to learn Spanish in high school, then had to take 2 classes minimum in college. I made it through the first one as a lecture class in college but when the opportunity was presented to do the second class abroad, I jumped on it! It took some convincing when it came to my parents – the tuition was about the same, and I coerced them to make the cost of my flight and spending money part of my upcoming Christmas gift. They were initially worried about sending their oldest daughter to a central America, but there were plenty of materials available from the university to answer any questions they might have. Back to academics – this was hands down the BEST way for me to learn the language. Being immersed in the culture for more than 3 weeks, I was practically fluent by the time I came back to the states. My friends and family were having to remind me to speak English!
I knew two of the girls I was traveling with before we left – but I came home with dozens of new friends! We studied at the leading Spanish language immersion programs in Costa Rica, COSI (the Costa Rica Spanish Institute). In addition to learning the language, our course included excursions to explore things like Volcanos and hot springs, zip-lining through the rain forest, taking a boat tour to see the wildlife, hiking to waterfalls, and much more!
We lived with host families – who spoke very little English. We ate meals with them, helped with chores around the house, and visited with their friends and family that came to check out “the American students.” Here is a photo (right) of the host family’s house I lived in, along with 2 other students, in Quepos, Costa Rica.
Quepos is a small village a few miles from the school in Manuel Antonio. We took a bus each day from the main street in Quepos to the bus stop in MA, then walked to COSI (the school). Class was 3-4 hours each morning, then we were released for an excursion or free time – which we spent on the beach near COSI.
Studying abroad was the experience of a lifetime. I highly recommend that your student take advantage of the opportunity while they are in school! As they say in Costa Rica, ¡Pura Vida! (pronounced poo-rah vee-dah. Simply translated, it means “simple life” or “pure life”).
For more information on Studying Abroad through UGA, click here.