I am an Emergency Room Registered Nurse from Dallas, TX and I have always had an interest in Spanish. My mom's side of the family is Mexican but I was never taught Spanish growing up, however it was always a strength of mine in high school. Since I love to travel, I decided my freshman year of college that when I graduate nursing school and have no other things holding me down (job, family, etc.), I would go somewhere and participate in a Spanish Immersion Program and become fluent in Spanish all by myself. So I did it. I found Intercultura through a friend and I went.
Not going to lie, I was scared to travel alone being a 22 year old woman, but after this experience I 100% recommend it. Something about traveling alone is liberating and exciting. It also forces you to make friends, which is very important at a place like Intercultura. I now have friends from literally world. I went to dance class almost every day (which I never would have done at home) and LOVED it!! I jumped off of waterfalls, ate fruits I had never heard of, watched a volcano erupt walking to school one morning, visited coffee and chocolate plantations, snorkeled, went to a land of stray dogs and so many other fun things. But the best part is, the entire time I got to practice my Spanish.
When I arrived at Intercultura, I had an intermediate level of comprehension, and a beginner level of speaking. When I left two months later, I had an advanced level of comprehension and an intermediate-advanced level of speaking.
My best advice to future participants is don't take this experience for granted. Even if you're just there for one week. Listen in class, do your homework, talk to your familia tica, practice with the locals, try ALL the food, go to dance class, jump off of waterfalls! And most importantly, don't be too hard on yourself. Learning a new language is not easy. Just the fact that you're trying says enough. Keep practicing and with time, you will get it!
Since coming back, I lost some of my Spanish while I was trying to find a job, but since then I have gotten a lot of practice. About half my patient population is Spanish-speaking only, and I am so thankful for all that I learned in Costa Rica. For future participants, if you don't use it, you lose it. Even if it's just going to a local hispanic supermarket, do it! Any kind of immersion helps. I have also kept in touch with most of my friends that I made at Intercultura and have plans to visit some in the near future.
I dream about going back to Heredia all day every day. My experience in Costa Rica would not have been the same without Intercutura. From my amazing teachers, to my amazing host family, I loved every bit of it. 10/10.
p.s. another useful tip for future participants: bring an umbrella. It rains A LOT. :)
What would you improve about this program?
I honestly have no complaints about this program. Some of the classes sometimes felt a little repetitive for me personally, but I could tell I was maybe just learning faster than others at times. The only thing I could suggest is maybe reassessments of a students skill level every week, to see if they might need to skip some levels.