ICDS: Spanish, Social Justice & Sustainable Dev Program

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About Program

Come study abroad in Costa Rica with ICDS next summer or semester with the Spanish, Social Justice, and Sustainable Development Program. Differing slightly from other ICDS programs, students have only two requirements: the Human Development & Society in Latin America course and a Spanish language course, which varies by the students skill prior to the program. The remaining three courses are chosen from a list of six options, all pertaining to social justice and sustainable development.

Students will enjoy the beautiful city of San Jose, where they will live with a carefully selected host family as a guest in their home. This gives students the chance to live like a local, as well as have a warm and welcoming home to come back to every night. Host families will only speak to students in Spanish, which will help drastically improve their Spanish language proficiency in a much shorter amount of time than simply taking a Spanish class.

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Program Reviews

9 Rating
based on 3 reviews
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  • Academics 6.3
  • Support 7
  • Fun 9.7
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 8.3
Showing 1 - 3 of 3
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Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience

Overall, ICDS is a great academic abroad program. The housing is through host families within the community and my host family was fantastic. My host mom has been extremely patient and helpful with my Spanish and her food is delicious. You get a taste of the real culture living with a Costa Rican family.
The academic portion is average, I enjoyed my classes although they seemed to overlap a bit. ICDS does an excellent job of planning staff led field trips for the weekends. The site visits through ICDS were wonderful.
One of my critiques is the cost and vague presentation of the required student visa. I had to budget an addition $500 that was not included in the program fee.
Overall, I have had a great experience with ICDS and four months in Costa Rica is amazing in itself!

1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

La Pura Vida has different meanings

I live in a home stay close to the University. My family here is wonderful and always help me with my Spanish and always make me feel welcome in the every day conversations.
Not having class on Fridays has been a real benefit to living in a foreign country. This gives me a chance to explore this unknown country. With this day off, I am able to go places other than just outside my neighborhood and experience other ways of life and the various culture around the country.
The only real difficulties I encounter are minimal. When I first arrived, I could not accurately portray what I was feeling due to the language barrier. But through time and through Spanish classes and the help of my host parents, I am more confident in my language skills. The other difficulty I have encountered are the never ending cat-calls from the local men. In all honesty, I know I need to just get used to it, but it can be difficult at times.
The main thing to remember is, continue speaking no matter how difficult it may be. Take advantage of this beautiful country and all it has to offer. Get to know the people and don't be afraid to try new things. Especially the food!

2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

ICDS 2007-2008

I studied at ICDS from August 2007-February 2008. I took classes from ICDS staff, stayed with a host family, and participated in a 2-month-long internship through ICDS. Overall, the experience pushed my middle-of-the-road Spanish into fluency, made me think about Central America in a completely new way, and was so, ridiculously fun!

The classes I took had to do with environmental sustainability (i.e. ecotourism), human rights, and Spanish. I loved all of them, except for one - the sustainable tourism one. The teacher just wasn't qualified to teach, and she was super disorganized. But, she had real-life experience and was nice, and I don't think she was brought back to teach again. The other classes were all incredible - they covered the Millennium Development Goals, as they applied to Costa Rica, Latin America, and the US. The classes also covered current and historic events and were super relevant to my time in Costa Rica, and in one class we went to a really poverty-stricken slum and learned about a really dark side to Costa Rica, including poverty and xenophobia against some immigrants. It completely changed my life.

The Spanish class was incredible - I went from intermediate to advanced through the classes and from simple immersion. One friend of mine arrived with minimal Spanish background, and was put in the beginner class, and her Spanish improved drastically in the first month - her teacher was great, and her host family was so sweet and patient.

My internship was through ICDS, and I worked with a partner to research the ;Law for Women's Real Equality', which was incredible. Through the ICDS's connections, we set up and conducted (in Spanish)interviews with some truly incredible people, including the former first lady and one of Oscar Arias' former aides. Being able to point to this internship has really made me stand out in interviews for jobs since graduating college!

Living with the host family was the best part. My host mom and I became so close, and she was patient and helpful with my Spanish. We had breakfast and dinner together every day, unless I was travelling, and these meals were vital to improving my Spanish and ensuring I felt very connected to Costa Rica!

When I went on the program, we had class all day for 4 days a week; that left three-day weekends every week. It was perfect - three days was the perfect amount of time to go travel to some beach or rainforest or volcano or other hidden gem in Costa Rica. Some weekends I stayed in San Pedro, and went to cultural events there or in San Jose (the capitol). It was incredibly easy to navigate the city and the country - In just a few days, I was comfortable taking the bus or walking to class or ICDS. Travelling around CR was also easy - we took trains, buses, taxis, ferries, even a small plane, and through our improving Spanish and the Costa Ricans' limited English, we had few problems.

In general, I felt VERY safe. I was a cautious traveler, but not overly paranoid. I felt safe taking taxis and walking - this was largely because the ICDS does a very helpful orientation that addresses real-life situations - including which taxis to take, and which to ignore. During the entire 7 months I was there, I had only 1 time that I felt unsafe, when I was taxiing home alone around 10:00 p.m. from a friend's host house. My taxi driver took a wrong turn and wouldn't go where I was telling him, so I got home about 15 minutes later than my host mom was expecting. I was a little scared, and frustrated because my taxi rate was way higher than I was prepared for. BUT, when we got to my host house, my host mom was waiting and I explained what happened and she railed against the taxi driver with the wrath of a mama bear, which made me feel way safe. She was rarely overbearing, too, so it was amazing. I miss her!

I would so strongly recommend not only studying in Costa Rica but going through ICDS. The folks here know Costa Rica so well, truly care about the well-being and development of their students, and are, above all, well-prepared to guide students through study abroad.

1 person found this review helpful.

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