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USAC COSTA RICA: San Ramón - Life & Health Sciences
University Studies Abroad Consortium participants University Studies Abroad Consortium participants

USAC COSTA RICA: San Ramón - Life & Health Sciences

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Pura vida baby

Pura Vida, the phrase Costa Rica is so well known for, is really no joke. It describes the laid back and relaxed lifestyle that predominates throughout the country and it describes my experiences in San Ramon and traveling around the country perfectly! Staying with a home-stay family was an incredible experience filled with delicious food, smiling faces, and a place that ended up feeling like home. This program offered me structure while I abroad, offering faculty in San Ramon that offered advice about traveling, instructions on how to get places and more. I was in Costa Rica a total of seven weeks, six of which were through the USAC program. It's hard to describe the impact a trip like this has on you. I used Spanish the nearly the whole trip, which I had not expected myself to be able to do, I fell in love with another country and way of life, and I made some incredible friends, including my home-stay family. The opportunities are endless in Costa Rica; you can bungee jump, zipline, surf, rent motor bikes, go to coffee and cacao farms, try all sorts of delicious food and so much more. It's easy to travel, and it is so much fun to get out of your comfort zone and try new things, even when they seem scary. My experiences in San Ramon and Costa Rica were incredible and it really felt like the trip of a lifetime.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Community

    9

A cliche: The best experience of my life

Studying abroad in this location was one of the best decisions I have ever had the privilege of making in my life. It was nothing like anything else I've done. While the location of the classes changed right after I left the program, the place USAC was originally stationed at was this small grade school/community college packed into one. The first floor was where the children had their classes and the top floor was where we had classes for just our program. Eventually ticos did begin to have classes with us during the daytime along with all of the kids. The reason we weren't all in school at the same time is because the school schedule for ticos is much different than ours, with their summer and winter breaks coinciding better with their weather patterns. Besides this, the classes were AMAZING. The one class I took, Tropical Marine Biology, had a "lab" attached with it (not mandatory), and so we went on field trips. In my top favorite memories was the night we drove to Puntarenas to see bio luminescence. While there, we were able to swim in the water with the bio luminescent microorganisms. It was quite literally breathtaking. A nice perk of choosing this location is the close proximity of the school (classes now at UCR) to the small feria (farmer's market) that is open on the weekends. You can buy cheep food and even flowers and granola, along with freshly-made tortillas with cheese that is cooked right in front of you. This way, we were able to heavily interact with the locals and utilize our Spanish-speaking abilities. In addition, one of our favorite places to hang out was Cafe Delicias. Almost all of the cafes or small restaurants had wi-fi as long as you asked for it, so this was the ideal place to chill and hang out and do homework downtown with friends while savoring the sweet, hot cinnamon rolls. Those things were absolutely to die for. I'm pretty sure we had at least one a week. But don't worry about putting on weight while you're here, because you'll likely be keeping yourself active and fit with the weekly soccer tournaments or the multitudes of natural adventures that the country (and ticos) have to offer. I was able to witness so many hidden wonders that many people of the world only dream to see. And with all of the life lessons I learned on my way, and the international connections I was able to make with my adventures in this place, I could only give my highest review and strongest encouragement to study abroad in general, but to also consider choosing this wonderful place!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Community

    9

Pura Vida por Vida

You prepare yourself for all sorts of experiences as you get older: going to high school, to college, moving into your first apartment, but nothing really prepares you for the number of ways you grow as you study abroad. You learn how to be independent, mindful, curious, all while having an amazing time in a country that was more beautiful than you could've imagined through pictures. The homestay was definitely one of the best parts of my journey, and would recommend that anyone going to San Ramon take advantage of this. Not only is it more affordable, and easier than trying to find your own housing, but it introduces you to new foods, culture, ways of life, and a language that you really have no choice but to grasp by the end of your stay. Ticos are wonderful, accommodating people who really want to help you. The local food is different and wonderful, and the street art itself could take an entire day to find and admire. When you do leave your cozy little town to adventure, there's so much more than you could imagine. There's the vibe of the Carribean coast, or Manuel Antonio National Park, Rio Celeste waterfall, or beautiful beach towns in Santa Teresa or Montezuma. There's snorkeling, and ziplining through the cloud forests of Monteverde. All experiences were different, but equally wonderful. The USAC staff is very helpful, and very accommodating during your journey. They understand the concerns a student (or student's parents) may have while abroad, and they meet those needs promptly, while still assuring that the student remains independent and curious. The classes are immersive, and I visited some of the coolest places during my field study courses, such as the Alberto Brenes Wildlife Reserve. They also plan excursions, such as La Isla Tortuga, and an optional trip to Manuel Antonio, which was unbelievably gorgeous, and fun! But honestly, there really is not way you can go wrong, wherever you decide to go during your stay in Costa Rica. It's a beautiful, exciting ride from start to finish!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    6

Meet the happiest people on earth

San Ramon is a happy little town full of great people, experiences, and food! I lived with a Spanish speaking family, knowing none at all, and had the best experience of my life. Costa Rica is a stunning country and is very cheap to travel, even to Nicaragua and Panama. Get involved in Zumba, cooking, soccer, or whatever your heart desires, San Ramon is the place for it! I can't recommend this little town more!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    7

  • Community

    10

My time in San Ramón

The four months I spent in San Ramón, Costa Rica were the best four month since of my life. I met some of my best friends during the program and made memories that will last a lifetime. The staff and administrators of my program were so helpful and caring. USAC made my experience a fantastic one.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    5

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    9

Summer 2016 - terms I & II

The best part about studying at this location is that home-stay is built into the price! My family was incredibly accommodating, kind, and my Tica mama was the most incredible cook. The fruit and vegetable selections here are also delicious -- and this town even has an amazing farmer's market every Saturday and Sunday!
I made friends with local Ticos (Costa Ricans) and they made my experience so much more memorable. I can't count how many beautiful and scenic runs I took, hikes I trekked, bodies of water I swam in, or beautiful sights that I saw! I went during my third year as a Spanish student as well so it helped INCREDIBLY with my language comprehension and conversation skills!
I had some of the most unforgettable memories and experiences while in Costa Rica! (I actually went back for New Years 2016/2017 and celebrated in Jaco Beach with some of my Tico friends!!)

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    7

USAC San Ramon fall 2015 - adventure of a lifetime

My semester abroad in San Ramón were the best four months of my life! I felt excited about class and life every day because every moment was a new adventure. I'm still in touch with my host family and tico friends and I believe I will be for the rest of my life.
USAC was a fantastic provider, very affordable, and there to help you every step of the way if you needed it. They were very good at providing information and support pre-departure and upon returning home. The onsite staff helped me immensely but also challenged me to work things out for myself and use my Spanish to communicate with professors, students, and other locals. My classes were a blast (Spanish language, Plant Taxonomy, Tropical Ecology, Latin American Cuisine, and Latin American Dancing). I learned so much not only about the tropics, but about a new culture and myself as well.
I got the chance to travel around, see new countries and corners of the world that I would never have previously thought about visiting.
Costa Rica is a fantastic place to study abroad because the people are so friendly and because the opportunities for studying are so varied. And USAC is a fantastic provider that helps to make the experience even richer than I thought possible.

Pura Vida

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    9

San Ramón fall 2015

This study abroad trip changed my life! I studied abroad in San Ramón, Costa Rica in the fall of 2015. To make a long story short, it was the most fantastic experience of my life. My host family was nothing short of fantastic. The friends I made have remained some of my closest. The pictures I took fill my walls and photo albums and the memories I made are some of my most cherished ones.

But probably most importantly this study abroad experience opened up doors for me. I can utilize my Spanish in my home town while working and volunteering, I am more adventurous and open about meeting new people, and I have a second family that welcomed me back over Christmas break the following year. Because of the connections I made, I landed an internship abroad that will not only look incredible on a resume but will help expand my knowledge and appreciation for a place and people I already call my own.

USAC, it's because of you that I have connections around the world, an appreciation for travel, meeting new people, and trying new foods. It's because of you that I am able to expand my professional experience and use this to get a dream job! I wanted to tell you my story and let you know that I am so grateful for what you do. You truly make a difference in peoples' lives and in their futures. I will always look back fondly at my first trip abroad and I hope that there are many more to come!

  • University Studies Abroad Consortium responded to this review June 19, 2017 at 5:53 PM

    Thank you Michaela. We are so glad you enjoyed your time in Costa Rica and that it's opened doors for you! Please keep us updated on where life takes you from here! Pura vida!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Best thing I've Ever Done

I picked this program because its affordable and related to my course. Traveling alone has opened my eyes and that has been one of the best things I gained from this experience.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Small town with big experiences

I could easily say studying abroad was one of the greatest experiences of my life. It taught me about cultural acceptance, how to speak another language, dealing with different types of people, how to get out of and stay out of my comfort zone, and much more. San Ramon is an excellent, out-of-the-way location with a very small-town and community feel to it. Non-locals are few and far between, whereas the locals are very accepting of us and willing to show their language and culture. The classes were not so difficult that I spent all of my time stuck in my bedroom studying, but plenty challenging enough to give me a broad depth of the topic and language. We still had plenty of time to go travel on the weekends to the far reaches of the Costa Rican countryside and attractions.

USAC was also very accommodating for housing, classes, and any problem that arose. The on-site staff were only a phone-call or a short walk away to help answer or solve any problems that came up, from medical problems to helping book a hostel. I also had an internship in the hospital with the local orthopedic surgeon, and was able to experience many surgeries as well as how the Costa Rican healthcare system truly works. I strongly recommend an internship. I also was able to take 3 upper division biology classes (9 credits) plus some language while abroad. You won't set yourself behind by studying abroad. I very strongly recommend studying abroad (in San Ramon) to anyone and everyone. I think it is always possible for everyone no matter their life situation.

Academics:
The classes were challenging, but not so difficult that I couldn't enjoy the culture, go out to the bars some nights, and travel around the country on the weekends.

Living Situation:
My host family was awesome! They barely spoke English, which forced me to really use the language and become fluent or next to it (alongside the language class). They were interested in talking with me and sharing their ways. They even took me to family parties/get-togethers and even took me to their family farm out in the countryside.

Cultural Immersion:
They are very good at getting you immersed into the culture and language. Living with a host family was an excellent way to learn the customs and Spanish language. The locals enjoy speaking with you, as well as the USAC staff. The language can be intensive, too, so you can really learn and get a solid grasp on it, no matter what level you are at.

Program Administration:
The USAC staff was very, very helpful with everything. The on-site staff was only a single phone call or short walk away from solving or helping with every problem or question I may have had. Very well run.