Overall we had a wonderful experience as reflected by the high score in the review. That said, we had several concerns both in the lead up to the experience and during.
These all centered around a lack of communication regarding our expectations and our qualifications heading into the project. I volunteered with 3 other medical students from Canada and despite frequent detailing our high level of training the IVHQ the main volunteer organizations there was limited in any knowledge of that training upon our arrival to Costa Rica.
That said, the staff here did an awesome job in supporting us. Tati, our main project leader was fun, knowledgeable and very supportive. She ensured our projects were well set up to accomodate us as best as they could. Without her tireless work and creativity our experience would have been disapointing. We also felt that our expectations for work were a little much and therefore we strongly advocated for ourselves to have Friday's off to explore the beautiful country. We offered to work longer days mid-week to accomodate.
My advice would be to make sure to advocate for yourself as you are ultimately the one paying the program fees, make sure you get what you want out of this trip. The team and the people at Maximo are wonderful and supportive and the country is absolutely incredible.
If you want to take Spanish classes all week each afternoon, go for it. If you do not want that then don't be pressured into spending more money and giving up your free time, tell them 'no, I want to use afternoons to explore and experience' and you will be just fine. It may be harder to accompplish this as a group of 1 or 2 but in our 4some we made sure that the trip worked for us as well as the project to which we were assigned. We had tons of meaningful experiences with patients and residents of Costa Rica and the time we alotted was a perfect mix of work and free time.
Overall we were very happy but | would encourage people to make sure to advocate for themselves and get the trip that they want. Make sure to encourage communication in the lead-up to the trip as well!
more communication, acknowledge participants goals prior to arrival in order to better accomodate.