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SPI Study Abroad: Spanish Immersion & Volunteer Costa Rica

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Social Life

    10

SPI was such an awesome program! I want to live there

Where do I even start?! OK, I'll start by saying that SPI asked me to review my experience in Costa Rica this past summer, and I am happy to give you the entire story, so here it goes...

I can safely speak for everyone on our Month long program who lived in both Monteverde and Flamingo that this program was the most life changing thing I have ever done so far in my life. Gracias mama y papa!

We started the program out in Flamingo Beach which was a really chill, small (think rural) beach town. My morning walks on the beach before volunteer service work would begin are some of the best memories I will cherish with my fellow travelers. The service component allowed us to help families in need to rebuild parts of their homes, paint the exterior, and interact a little with their children. Seeing their little smiling faces at the end of the day was the greatest reward. Little Jose would also come up to me and latch on to my leg until his mom came to peel him off. So cute!

Normally, lunch was provided after our service work at the language school or at a nearby restaurant after one of the morning activities. (PS-It usually rains in the afternoon in Costa Rica during the summer, so it made sense classes were later in the day and we could get out to enjoy the sunshine in the morning!)

The excursions to Rincon de la Vieja, horseback riding, the waterfalls, and the all the nature were simply stunning. I want to live in this part of Costa Rica at some point in my life because it was so peaceful. The Monteverde excursion took us to an awesome excursion by boat to Isla Coca near Puntarenas. The boat ride was the best part! People dancing salsa and playing music - it was just what you would expect Latin America to be like.

I will say that some days the classes in the afternoon were a challenge just because we had already done so much during the day. Thank goodness for Costa Rican coffee! I really learned a lot from my teachers (Elena rocks) and the class sizes were small so we were constantly interacting with each other.

Of the two SPI locations in Costa Rica, Monteverde has more city/town life as Flamingo is 100% beach focused. I really enjoying getting helados in the evening after class and exploring a bit with my friends. It's hard to say which program I would recommend over the other - as they were both great so if you can, do the entire 4 week program that includes both.

So many amazing highlights are flooding my mind now. You just have to go to experience it. I feel like I went in with an open mind and those of us who were willing to try things, deal with some of the bugs (bring repellent), and interact as much as possible with our homestay really made the most of it. One last thing - I really loved our directors with SPI - Beth and Randy. They were both very fluent in Spanish and were always there for us (even when I got sick!) MUCHAS GRACIAS POR TODO SPI!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Social Life

    10

¡Una experiencia increíble!

I participated in the two week summer in Monteverde, Costa Rica. It was truly one of the best two weeks of my life. It is a trip I will never forget and one that will continue to benefit me through my life. I learned to appreciate the different culture and experience new things and food (which was delicious). I improved my Spanish and I learned about the importance of trees and how to protect the environment as I volunteered at farms. I have stayed in touch with the people I met and I am glad I participated in this program.

I felt completely immersed in the language and culture of Costa Rica. My home-stay family spoke little English, as did my teachers, which allowed me to practice and improve upon my Spanish. Our excursions also showed us more of the culture and lifestyle of Costa Ricans. We went on tours of the rainforest and coffee farms. Other activities included horse-back riding, zip-lining in the Cloud forest, hanging bridge tours, paddle boarding and snorkeling at the beach in Isla Tortuga, and we took a dance class. The volunteer work at Life Monteverde (an organic farm in Monteverde) was rewarding, not only to ourselves but also for the environment. We planted trees and helped around the farm, learning about the importance of the environment and trees and what we can do to for our planet.

The town of Monteverde felt safe and we had no problems walking to and from the school or Santa Elena either in the morning or at night. The town is fairly small and it is not hard to navigate. Our supervisors and home-stay families made sure we felt safe and had everything we needed.

I would highly recommend this program to high school students who are open to different cultures and new experiences. ¡Pura Vida!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • The Campus

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

Really insightful

My most memorable experience was definitely the meals that I shared with my host family. I became so incredibly close with them right away - it was a mom, dad, and two daughters and they were just the loveliest people you could ever hope to meet. At mealtimes, we would all sit down to eat whatever delicious meal my host mom had cooked (always with a side of yummy fried plantains) and just talk about our days, our different cultures, whatever came to mind. My host mom also made the made best arroz con leche known to humankind!

Of course I loved all other parts of the program (especially the wonderful friends I made) but this is the experience that sticks out the most in my mind -- being able to bond with a Costa Rican family, practice my Spanish, and just really feel like I was a part of their culture and world.

I chose SPI because I wanted an immersion experience with fun activities. I wanted to be pushed outside of my comfort zone and really encouraged to speak the language, because previously in my classes in the States I had been pretty shy and not really confident with speaking in class. Costa Rica changed that -- because I was forced to speak only Spanish with my homestay, plus do activities and take classes that were in Spanish, I really started learning fast and gaining the confidence to speak.

As I mentioned, I stayed with the most amazing family and really just had the most incredible experience with them. They were so warm and friendly and really welcomed me into their home with open arms. I shared a room with another SPI student and we became close friends right away. The house itself was quaint, small, and what I expected out of a typical Costa Rican home. The family also had a beautiful garden and chickens.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Really insightful look into Costa Rican culture/most amazing experience of my life

My summer with SPI Costa Rica will always be one of the most treasured memories of my lifetime. From my amazing host family, to all the wonderful activities we did, to all the lifelong friends I made - I wouldn't be the same person I am today without having had such an incredible experience.

I also learned so much about Costa Rican culture, and my Spanish went from being at a pretty stagnant level to near fluency in the month that I was there. This is probably the most tangible effect of my time abroad with SPI - I really felt like I was immersed in the culture and language so much so that it left an imprint on my ability to speak Spanish, and made me want to explore the world as much as possible!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Costa Rica 2013 was the trip of a lifetime

Traveling to Costa Rica with SPI was a trip of a lifetime that left me with endless memories and lifelong friendships. I not only improved in my Spanish, but was given a new insight on the importance of the language, and a confidence in my abilities to speak it! My teachers and directors were supportive and helpful through out the trip. I had one of the best times of my life and I know I will never forget my experience. Thank you SPI for giving me this amazing opportunity!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Social Life

    9

SPI, life changing experience!

You read those reviews that start with "LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE!!! :D", and it has absolutely zero effect on you. Out of all the reviews that claim something to be life changing, probably only 10-20% are genuinely so. However, SPI is part of that elite group. SPI provided me with experiences that simply weren't accessible for me back home. From bungee jumping with my new found friends to volunteering with the neighborhood kids, I honestly had an unforgettable experience. Not a once in a life time one- I'm returning next summer-, however it is one that I'll never forget.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Impact

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

The Best Way to Study Spanish and Latin Culture!

SPI Costa Rica was the best 2 week Spanish cultural and educational trip that I have ever experienced! From the beginning you are immersed in Costa Rican culture and language and it won't stop until you leave. Activities are planned every day and there is plenty of time to go to the beach daily~! Classes are also fun and you'll always play games to help review vocab. Although the program is only 2 weeks, you experience so much of Costa Rican culture and Spanish that you'd feel like you were there for a month. These 2 weeks were some thing that'd I'd never forget

Volunteer Experience:
I thought the classes were very fun and interesting but I'd like for there to of been a stricter homework policy as students didn't take it seriously or didn't do it.

Living Situation:
My host family was amazing and provided me with everything that I n ended. I wish I knew about the hot water and plumbing situation beforehand so I could've prepared better but everything was fine otherwise.

Community Impact:
I was totally immersed in Spanish during the program and also had several opportunities to experience Costa Rican culture. I did wish that we did more cultural activities besides pottery and dancing though.

Program Administration:
Our chaperones were amazing and were really fun to be around. They were fair and responsible and made sure we a great time!

Health and Safety:
Costa Rica is a very safe country! No problems occurred during our programs. I would suggest traveling in pairs at least during the night because there aren't many street lights in Costa Rica so it's safer in case a passing car doesn't see you.

Social Life:
Everyone in Costa Rica treats you like family and with total respect. There will always be someone to help you my everyone is very courteous to foreigners.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health and Safety

    6

  • Social Life

    7

Costa Rican Trip of a Lifetime!

This trip was a great experience! Not only did I get amazing opportunities to practice and improve my Spanish, I was also able to completely immerse myself in Costa Rican culture and make friends that will last a lifetime. This program also had the perfect amount of scheduled activities and freedom to do what you want. I have so many memories from this experience, and I would highly recommend the Costa Rica experience if you are up for an adventurous, rustic, and unique trip that will give you memories that will last a lifetime.

Volunteer Experience:
I was given the chance to greatly improve my vocabulary and gained a lot of confidence in my speaking abilities through small classes and one on one learning.

Living Situation:
I had an interesting situation by having 2 roommates instead of one, which made things a little more cramped, but it ended up just fine.

Community Impact:
I learned so much about Costa Rica and really enjoyed the entire experience. It also opened my eyes to a new type of living.

Program Administration:
The two counselors I had were super friendly and if there was ever a problem they were there to help!

Health and Safety:
During the day there were no problems, and at night as long as you were not travelling or walking around alone I felt safe. Also as I became more familiar with my town and my surroundings, the safer I felt.

Social Life:
I was with a very small group of 8 students, which has its good and bad aspects, but overall I was happy with the friends I made there.