This is not the study abroad program for someone looking to hop around central america, or even Costa Rica. This is the study abroad program for the student who wants to find a second home. Monteverde and Santa Elena are two very quiet towns, with small populations. There is one bar and a handful of coffee shops scattered around the area, and lots of hilly sidewalks in between them. Since Monteverde is so far away from other cities, it is difficult to plan trips or excursions to other places from here, but, you really should not want to leave.
CIEE gave me an excellent school to work from, with an incredible staff who was dedicated, caring and excited. They connected me to a wonderful host family, where I got to learn what it was really like to live in Costa Rica. I spent so much time in the small town, learning it, and learning how to get around that I would feel comfortable showing it off to my family or friends back home; the coffee shop with my favorite smoothies, the best place to get pizza, or my favorite lookout spot. I felt incredibly safe here, I was worried that I would have an issue with Machismo culture but thankfully I experienced no such thing. People here are humble, gracious and friendly, and they love to share their town with you. I learned so much about my own culture, and what it is like to live in another country.
Monteverde is beautiful, I felt lucky getting to walk to class every day, in awe of the cloud rain forest that surrounds the city. I came during the rainy season, but thankfully I got to experience a different climate than I would at home. I have so many favorite memories to chose from here, touring the cloud forest with my class, going zip lining, learning Spanish, sitting in Stella's Cafe, watching a monkey climb on top of a building, seeing toucans in the tree by my house at dusk. Wear shoes you know you can walk forever in, bring a rain jacket, and a good attitude.