Sol Abroad Costa Rica seemed like an exciting way to better my knowledge of the Spanish language and culture, as well as a fun summer experience and an opportunity to make friends from across the United States! Plus, everyone's heard of Costa Rican rainforests and the zipline excursions through them and with Sol Abroad, I was able to fly through the canopy myself!
Micaela (Mica) is a homeschooled, high school student from Colorado. She loves playing soccer, diving (both springboard and SCUBA), adventures of all kinds, baking, and hanging out with her brother, friends, and cat, Nelson.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Sol Abroad organized day-time activities in Atenas, the town we were staying in, and weekend excursions throughout Costa Rica during the duration of the trip, including pre-booked hotel rooms. They, of course, also provided us with daily Spanish instruction and housing with our host families. Available on their website was also Costa Rican lingo and customs information so we could prepare ourselves to speak with Ticos and know common formalities before we arrived.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Make sure you begin to open up to everyone on the very first day of the program! That way you'll have at least a couple of weeks to build your friendships with everyone. I promise that, if you get close to the other students in Costa Rica, you'll never lose touch with them and will end up meeting up again!
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
The average weekday spent with Sol Abroad in Costa Rica looks something like this:
Wake up! Early! Costa Ricans tend to be up with the sun, so as much as you might like to sleep in, you'll hear your host family up talking with the neighbors and cars cruising down the road as early as 4:30 am.
Eat breakfast with your host family -- most meals in Costa Rica are served with beans and rice, including breakfast!
By 8 am, you'll be at the class, either at the little school, Atesa or in town for a cultural activity. Midway through class every day, you get a snack of some kind, which usually includes a unique Costa Rican fruit or pastry.
At noon, you'll go back home for lunch with your host family, then depart again for the afternoon activity! These planned activities range from soccer matches to going to the movies in San Jose to baking empanadas!
After this, you can choose to either go back to eat dinner with your host family or stay in town and eat with friends.
Between the time you finish dinner and curfew at 9:30, you'll have the freedom to do anything you'd like with the other students around Atenas. These are just a few of the things we did with our free time at night: we played soccer and basketball in a park, we got ice cream in town, and one night, a couple of girls set up a scavenger hunt in the local grocery store for the rest of us to participate in!
Each weekend we were there, we went on different excursions throughout the country! The first weekend, everyone arrived on Saturday, so our excursion was just a short trip up to the rainforest on Sunday for some ziplining in the canopy! The next weekend, we took a trip up to the Arenal Volcano area. This time, we stayed in a hotel one night so we could have the entirety of Sunday to hike the volcano and visit a waterfall. And on our last weekend in Costa Rica, we went on an excursion to Manuel Antonio National Park and got to swim there at the beach!
The next day -- our last in Costa Rica -- we spent on a whitewater rafting trip!
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
Going into the Sol Abroad Costa Rica trip, my only fears were that I wouldn't find anyone to bond within our group and that, for whatever reason, I wouldn't like my host family. These fears were quickly dispelled, though! Costa Ricans (Ticos) are so friendly, I immediately felt at home with my host family. And everyone in the group was there for the same reason -- to have fun and make memories! So it wasn't hard to make friends at all.
What's my favorite (sort of random and crazy) memory from Costa Rica?
Curfew was 9:30 sharp, every night in Costa Rica, even when we were in the hotels.
During our hotel stay on our second excursion -- the one to Arenal Volcano -- things took a twist. We all got settled into our rooms at 9:30, just like a typical night. Outside, though, a crazy thunderstorm was raging! And at about 10 pm, the lights in our room went out! We all ran screaming into the hallway, and by all, I mean the whole fifteen-student Sol Abroad group, not just the four of us in my room!
Anyway, we just sat there, in the hallway, for an hour or so, telling horrible ghost stories, until the power was running again. The funniest part, though, was that, before the power had gone out, one room decided to order themselves a pizza. The girls from that room were sitting there in the hallway wondering why the pizza had never arrived. Turns out, the delivery guy was in the elevator when the power went out and was stuck there for an hour!