Alumni Spotlight: Candy Foster

Candy is a retired reading specialist still working part time in a bilingual program and began learning Spanish almost five years ago to help students learn to read in Spanish. Candy also works with English language learners, both children and adults, teaching them listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in English.

Why did you choose this program?

Nosara Spanish Institute was the only language school in Nosara. I chose Nosara, Costa Rica because I have a friend living there and was traveling for the first time alone. I wanted a Spanish immersion experience. What I didn't know at the time is that most tourists and workers in the Guiones Beach area where the school is located speak English.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The directors of the school organized the weekly class schedule and some extracurricular and cultural activities. Even though I attended classes there a month, I never met the owner/director, but I think that he was around a couple days a week.

They suggested that I stay in an apartment nearby. I made arrangements to rent my apartment for a month. I found my own transportation to and from the airport to Nosara. I organized my own trip to Rio Celeste in the rainforest including transportation and hotel. I organized my volunteer activity, teaching English to adults, which was one of the highlights of my trip.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Nosara Spanish Institute is located near an incredibly beautiful beach which is a world renowned surfing destination. Yoga and deep sea fishing are also available. If you don't want easy opportunities for Spanish immersion, then this is the school for you. I have studied in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Mexico. All offered many immersion experiences. The lack of immersion opportunities was my biggest disappointment.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Nosara Spanish Institute offers mostly group classes. Group sizes range from about 3 to 7 or 8 students depending on ability level. Classes are offered in the morning and afternoon from 8-12 and 1-5. Class times are assigned. Preferences are not taken into account. Three weeks I had classes in the morning, and one week I had classes in the afternoon.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I have traveled all over the world with my husband, family and friends. I had never traveled solo. This was my first experience, and I loved it. I made many friends in my neighborhood, at school and where I volunteered. I lived in Nosara for a month, and at the end it really started to feel like home.

Do you have any recommendations?

If you have an opportunity to be placed in a homestay (not the group homestay, which is not a Spanish immersion experience), I recommend that you give it a try. There is a fishing village about 20 minutes from the school (by car or tutktuk), where one fellow student stayed. The biggest challenge for her was finding transportation to the Spanish Institute. Most days she hitchhiked. For a woman, this is a dangerous form of transportation. I hope that the Spanish Institute can find a way to make that experience safer.