Sol Education Abroad (University Study Abroad & Spanish Immersion Programs)

Sol Education Abroad

This organization has been expired and its programs are no longer offered.
COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, Sol Education Abroad has decided to pause some of their upcoming programs temporarily and may be offering flexible booking options as well. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.

About

Sol Education Abroad (SOL) provides affordable study abroad opportunities in Costa Rica, Argentina, Spain, and Mexico. Sol Education Abroad prides itself in providing hands-on service to ensure an enriching experience abroad. It’s this unique approach that makes SOL both a leader and innovator in university study abroad programs.

Winter Break programs!

SOL is still accepting applications for Winter Break programs. Winter Break is a great time of year to have an incredible experience and earn credit. Take advantage of the break!
Founded
2005
Headquarters

503 Oakland Ave.
Austin, TX 78703
United States

Reviews

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Reyna
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Sol staff was so knowledgeable and helpful during the entire program abroad, phenomenal experience that I would definitely do again if I had the opportunity. Our professors were so sweet and ensured that we had meaningful discussions about events happening in the world (e.g. climate change strikes) as well as events that were pertinent to specifically CR.

All of the places that we visited during our excursions were spectacular and unique in their own way and I really loved being able to know that we were visiting smaller, locally owned and operated Costa Rican businesses!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you are not an outdoorsy person, then don't fear! I was not very active prior to this trip but I had so much fun being able to go hiking, swimming or just sightseeing around CR, I did ziplining twice as well as bungee jumping and scuba diving (:
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Danielle
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I greatly enjoyed my time in Costa Rica traveling with Sol Education Abroad. Our program itinerary included the perfect combination of service, tourism, and cultural immersion. I loved staying with a host family as it was an experience that gave me a glimpse into the every day lives of the locals, as well as an opportunity to use and improve my spanish! Our tour guide, Leydi, was absolutely phenomenal! She was very knowledgable and experienced, and her presence made the trip even more enjoyable! I can't wait to return to the beautiful country of Costa Rica!

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Samantha
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I really enjoyed my time abroad in Costa Rica! SOL Education provided me with all the necessary resources prior to traveling. My host family was very welcoming and always made sure that we were taken care of. I am typically a picky eater, but stepped out of my comfort zone to try some new foods and I was not disappointed! The excursions were a lot of fun as well! Kidtopia camp is a great program and really allowed to me engage with the students and learn more about Costa Rican culture. The directors were phenomenal and made the experience fun and welcoming!!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I didn't realize that there were monkeys on the beach. It was really funny to see them swinging around. It was something different that you do not see in the United States. This just added to the beauty and wildlife in Costa Rica.
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Janet
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Our University guided study abroad trip to look us to Here, Costa Rica for the second winter in a row. I have such success in the initial trip that 4 of my students returned for a second visit. We ran a day camp in Heredia as part of our service to the community. Students really enjoyed the homestay portion of this experience and the location could not be better, affording students the opportunity to explore their neighborhoods independently. A great trip!After camp each day, students engaged in various cultural activities around the country, allowing them to get a richer experience of the culture and landscape.

What would you improve about this program?
Perhaps a different beach trip; my students would like a beach with food and shopping opportunities for when they want to get out of the sun for a bit.
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Trisha
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This was truly an amazing experience. From working with the people at SOL, to working with kids and taking tours. I feel like even in a short amount of time you get to learn so much about the culture of Costa Rica while also doing good with the service learning aspect. The staff really helps you feel welcome and safe and they take care of you. Living in home stays with host families truly makes the experience one I’ll never forget. My mamatica took great care of me and even with the language barrier we communicated well!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice would be to go with the flow and try everything. There are many chances to try new things and they should be taken because it could be once a life time and it really is worth it!

Programs

This organization no longer has any active programs. Visit our homepage to continue your search.

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Anne Russell

Anne Russell is a Senior at the University of the Cumberlands who is double majoring in Spanish and Human Services. She is passionate about her faith, music, traveling, and helping others.

Why did you choose this program?

It has been a dream of mine to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country since high school. I go to a small university, and there are only two sponsored study abroad programs to Spanish-speaking countries: Costa Rica and Spain. Truthfully, a big reason I picked Costa Rica was because the program there was 13 weeks whereas the program in Spain was 10. I wanted to immerse myself for as long as possible. And I had multiple friends on campus who had gone to the program in Costa Rica and absolutely loved it. My love for nature and adventure also compelled me, after seeing pictures and hearing stories. I was not disappointed!

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

Before leaving, I had to attend a "pre-departure orientation" with my study abroad coordinator that was very comprehensive. It helps you think about all the steps you need to complete before leaving the country (calling your bank, figuring out a cell phone plan, buying a power converter, etc.) and offers helpful tips for things like packing, dealing with homesickness, safety while abroad, etc.

SOL also provides a comprehensive handbook online for your specific country with virtually everything you could want to know. That, combined with the advice of my friends who had already experienced the program, allowed me to feel very prepared going into it. On my own, I just had to keep up with the paperwork, and run all around campus to meet with and get signatures from various people. I also had to purchase flight tickets.

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

You get out what you put in, so put in everything you have. For me, this means putting yourself out there and making local friends because my best memories from the program were only possible because I met local people and shared life with them. They showed me the cool secret places that tourists don't know about, they invited me to stay with them in their homes and meet their families, they helped me immensely with my Spanish skills, and they taught me so much about their country and culture. That's how you get the most out of your study abroad experience!

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

Classes run on a module schedule, so each week you have class Monday-Friday from 8-11 am. Usually, once a week in the afternoon, there is a cultural activity included in the program, such as cooking, baking, traditional dance, coffee tour, chocolate tour, and more. To fill the other afternoons, you may take an elective with local students, such as painting or soccer, or you can go to the mall, explore downtown Heredia, or even take a bus to San José.

On the weekends, sometimes there are planned excursions, such as Parque Nacional de Manuel Antonio, Volcán Arenal, etc. or, if there is nothing planned, you are free to explore on your own! Unless there are activities, you eat 3 meals a day with your host family which is a great time to practice your Spanish and learn more about your family! There is a lot of flexibility and freedom for you to see and do the things that interest you most.

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 think my biggest fear was just the unknown: will I make friends, will I get sick, will I like the food, will my Spanish get better, will I get along with my roommate, will I have enough to do on the afternoons and weekends, will I miss home a lot, will I ever be in danger, will I be able to interact with locals, etc. There are so many unknowns before you embark on your study abroad adventure, but in order to overcome that large fear, I decided to embrace it! The key to success abroad is to positively embrace the unknown. Treat it as a big adventure.

In Costa Rica, everyone lives by the saying "Pura Vida," which means Pure Life. My mamá tica (host mom) compared it to Hakuna Matata, or don't worry. For me, it became a mantra that encouraged me to embrace every part of life, to see every little thing whether good or bad as part of the adventure. It really helped me to have a good attitude in every situation and let go of my expectations. It also encouraged me to let go of my worries and anxieties about the unknown because truly, worrying does not help you, it only makes you miserable. All you can do is take life one step at a time and deal with the unexpected things that come up in the moment.

I began to relish in the unknown, looking forward to the adventures and the memories that would come out of it. I began to embrace the big unknown that is my future post-graduation as well, seeing that as a portal of endless opportunities whether in the states or abroad. The best thing you can do is embrace the unknown, see everything as part of the adventure, and be open-minded to whatever comes your way.

Is there any other advice you'd like to share with prospective travelers?

Here is my two-cents on some pitfalls to avoid when studying abroad: don't spend too much time on social media. It can lead you to missing home or feeling like you are missing out on things back home, which you are obviously not because you are living it up in another country!

Don't ever get too comfortable. Keep pushing yourself further and further out of your comfort zone, trying new things, meeting new people.

Don't just hang out with your US friends and speak in English all the time. Seek out opportunities to speak with locals and learn outside of the classroom. This is what will challenge you and help you grow the most.

Don't settle into a friend group too quickly. Continue to meet your fellow students because everyone has so many different things to offer. Go out of your way to meet everyone because you never know what you might have in common and what you might learn.

Don't sit around in your house too much - there is so much to see and explore!! Take every advantage of it!

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Catalina Ovares Fernandez

Job Title
Onsite Director
Catalina (or Cata as she goes by) is a native Costa Rica. Cata has always had an intense love of nature which led her to study Tourism and graduate as a Naturalist Guide. Cata is an extremely friendly person and loves to help others and, of course, spend time with her sweet son Franco.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Each moment of traveling is wonderful; in my personal opinion, it could be a bit unfair to choose just one memory. For me, just walking in the rainforest and seeing a thousand years forest is magical. Walking in the cloud forest and feeling the mist gently stroking my face it's one of the most beautiful feelings I've ever felt...or being in front of one of the most imposing and majestic volcanoes in the world and that I feel small facing the greatness of nature, but at the same time protected by itself.

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

Through the years, I've learned a lot, not only how it is to work in a company with such a great organization, but how to handle many different situations with customers. I have learned a lot regarding office work that improved my skills in that.

Besides that, sharing with people from all over the world makes me open my mind to very different ways to think and act, helping me have more empathy towards others, being more comprehensive and active too...

I have learned a lot, I am sure I will keep learning...

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Sol put special attention to the students' immersion and I can not forget one of our students that did our teach English volunteering to little kids and she fell in love with a special needs little kid (and he fell in love with her too, by the way), and after this volunteering, she told me that she decided that she wants to be a pediatric nurse and she is already studying to make that dream come true.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

All of them are great and I would do any of them; just being in another country where you not only will learn another language but see and experience a totally different culture will make you grow not only as a student but as a person too.

The opportunity to visit different places and do cultural and adventure activities will be so much enriching and FUN!!!

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

The company's commitment to give the best experience to the students - it is a company that really cares about students' security but always making them feel welcome and with a real Spanish immersion. When the students finish the session and I can have a conversation with them in Spanish, not only that makes me feel proud but happy because it means that your work was really worth it.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I truly believe that success comes from the GREAT care we put into each and every detail that will make their visit an unforgettable experience.

Also, how we care about security, immersion in Spanish and the culture of the country, making them feel welcome and making sure they are having a wonderful time in a completely different environment. We always place students' satisfaction first!!!

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