You may be wondering, “What is it like? What will the real experience be? What kind of students join ILISA?” Read about the experiences of people who have been here on our ‘students talk’ page.
Ashley and Alauna are two students from the University of South Florida. They participated in ILISA’s four-week Study Abroad Program in June and were very sad to leave Costa Rica. But not for long! Interested in knowing what their experience was like? Read on!
The girls found out about the Study Abroad Program through their universities offers’. “We were looking for an opportunity to study abroad and looked at experiences and reviews of other students who already did the program. We fell in love with the activities at ILISA and it was a great benefit that we could take university credits as well.”
When asked what the program was like and what type of activities they did, they responded that a better question would be what they didn’t do! Both have travelled more and seen more places in Costa Rica than anywhere else in the U.S. “We visited several magnificent resorts, did horseback riding, we hiked at volcanoes, saw the craters of several different volcanoes, visited a coffee plantation and saw how everything is made, went to see beautiful waterfalls, and a lot of amazing animals, especially many butterflies and hummingbirds.” They find it hard to choose a highlight of all these wonderful places, but they felt that the beautiful Rincon de la Vieja National Park had so much going on; a combination of lots of amazing nature and lots of animals.
During their program they had classes 4 hours a day and enjoyed a wide variety of cultural activities as well. “We progressed a lot in these 4 weeks, I feel so much more confident in speaking and the classes all had a great atmosphere. The teachers are all professionals who love their job.” In the National Museum they learned about Costa Rica’s history, with the City Tour they found their way in downtown San Jose and walked by important sights, they saw a musical performance in the National Theatre and travelled to Heredia by train. Physical activity was a perfect way of letting out energy after a full day of studying, so the weekly indoor soccer was a great success! “Our personal highlights were the dance classes. We wanted them every day! Silvia, the teacher is so great, super enthusiastic and she will give you the best professional help you can get anywhere. If you are here at ILISA, definitely take dance classes with her! We learned so much and it’s a great way of getting in touch with the Latin American culture.”
Part of the Study Abroad Program is staying with a host family. “That was the most amazing experience! I love my host family so much and honestly I could not have asked for a better host family. They were so giving, welcoming and helpful. Their food is amazing, like anywhere in Costa Rica. And their juices; we loooove their fresh juices! You could tell they have been doing this for years. Our family knew how to make us feel welcome, they helped us out during the first couple of days figuring out the city and giving us tours. They felt like our own parents all this time. We felt at home right away!”
Costa Rica can be a true change from your own environment and surroundings at home. Anything remarkable that they experienced? “Well, we were lucky it did not rain that much the first weeks. But here in Costa Rica it can rain heavily, so when it rains, it’s down pour! Be prepared for that. Other than that, we grew up in a close environment as well, where family is close and food is really important. So we feel at home in Costa Rica.”
So after this experience, how do you feel about the country of Pura Vida?
“We are definitely coming back! I’m coming back and will be bringing my parents. I want to show them the amazing country and be their guide. And of course participate in dance class again!”