Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

My Posts

{photos, text, video}

Zarcero

Time March 23rd, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Costa Rica | No Comments by

While learning about the different provincias in Costa Rica through each others’ presentations, there was a place that was intriguing to all of us.  This place is called Zarcero and is located in the province of Heredia.  Here there is a garden of bushes cut into different shapes.  So what we thought was that it was a park in part of Alajuela the city, not another city in Alajuela the province. Read More »

Share

To the beach!

Time March 23rd, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Costa Rica | No Comments by

It is after our second week of classes, and third week being in Costa Rica and still no beach… So a group of us on the trip decided to take matters into our own hands and plan a trip to the beach!  The beach we selected to go to is Jaco.  It is located on the Pacific side and is the closest beach to San Jose.  While this beach is not a favorite of Ticos, we decided it was a good place to start.  We left Heredia for San Jose at 9:00, took a taxi to the other bus stop and took the 10:00 bus for Jaco.  Looking back we wished we had left closer to 5 or 6 in the morning, the bus to San Jose took longer because we left at a time when traffic was really heavy.  Then the taxi took longer(which made it cost more) in between the paradas de autobuses for the same reason.  When we got there they still had tickets luckily as we arrived just a few minutes before the bus was set to leave, however one of the tickets was standing.  Another thing to know about buses is you buy a ticket for a certain seat, like on a plane.  This means if you get there earlier or reserve in advance you can choose your seat. Read More »

Share

Advice for future students- Part 1 (Orientation 1)

Time March 23rd, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Costa Rica | No Comments by

Hey everyone this is my first post that I am doing for future students of IFSA of things I think would have been helpful to know during my experience.  I am hoping on doing a few of these posts through my time here, hope you find them helpful! Read More »

Share

Last week of orientation, first week of classes?!

Time March 18th, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Costa Rica | No Comments by

We returned from Monteverde to the hotel we had been staying at in Santo Domingo.  There we met our host families that we will be living with for the rest of the semester!  By the time we arrived I was quite tired, my host parents were very nice though they told me to go and get organized in my room and only to come down once I felt ready.  We had Sunday off to spend with our families before more orientation activities Monday and also official start of classes! My first week of classes went pretty well I believe.  Only having each class once a week is quite different than I am used to, however.

Another thing to add, it happened, I cried.  We were working on immigration materials in the IFSA office.  I still was not finished at 3:55 and had a class at 4:00.  I did not know how much I had left to do, if there were any more steps after the one I was working on, so I just broke down.  Luckily the part I was working on just required one more click and I could wait to do the rest later…  One of our amigos ticos (Esteban) walked me to class, seeing how frazzled I was. On Saturday we had all the rest of the charlas for orientation.  That day we also got to have a small popular dance class where we leaned some merengue, salsa, and bachata.  This part was my personal favorite!

Unfortunately no pictures this week :(

‘Til next time!

-Jaime

Share

Five days in Monteverde

Time February 24th, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Costa Rica | No Comments by

As part of orientation we spent five days in Monteverde, a beautiful place on a mountain surrounded by dense forest.  Here we stayed with host families, started our advanced Spanish class, took a test, had adventures, and learned from many more of the infamous charlas.  This post I decided I will split into separate into different paragraphs for each subject.

The first and most rewarding part of the experience for me was staying with my host family.  The family consisted of four people, Alexis (the dad), Cecilia (the mom), Alanis (11-year-old daughter), and Lizbeth (7-year-old daughter).  During  part of the week they had a another guest Carlos (a Texan named Charles) who was also hear learning Spanish, although he was at the beginning of the process of learning the language.  Alanis and Lizbeth are both learning English in an immersion school nearby.  Alanis was really excited to have someone to practice English with, so most of our conversations worked by her speaking in English and me replying in Spanish.  This compromise offered a way for both of us to learn from each other. My favorite night with the family was when Alanis, Lizbeth, Carlos, and I played Monopoly for a solid four hours.  It was a learning experience for everyone.  For Alanis and Lizbeth it was an exercise in mathematics and for Carlos and I it was an exercise in Spanish through translating and describing the words written on the cards.  One word that was particularly difficult to explain was “life insurance”.  Another fun night was when Lizbeth was watching a bachata competition show and decided I needed to learn so I could dance with her.  It was adorable to have a seven-year-old’s explanation of how the moves worked.

Our time in Monteverde was not all fun and games, however.  We also attended Spanish classes and took the dreaded STAMP test.  This test had four parts (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) and took three hours to complete.  We also had Spanish class for four hours Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  It was good to get the test out of the way and begin our classes for Spanish before classes started at Universidad Nacional (UNA).

We also had our share of adventures while in Monteverde.  On Wednesday we went on a guided hike through a cloud forest reserve.  In the reserve we saw hundreds of hummingbirds and a few mischievous white-nosed coatis.  Thursday we went with Daniela, Josue, Esteban, and Maileth (amigos ticos) to a giant strangler fig tree.  There I held my first lightning bug!  Friday we ziplined or, as the Ticos call it, canopy.  It was super fun!  On a few of the lines you disappear into a cloud that was hanging over the forest.  After we went on a coffee and chocolate tour.

Last but not least the charlas, one of which caused me to check an item off my study abroad bulletin.  The first  charla run by the institute was on fruit types.  It was really fun to try all the fruit all though I wished we were given a sheet with the names of the fruit because I cannot remember any!  Other charla was traditional Costa Rican dance, for this we even got to dress up in traditional outfits!  If you were wondering the skirts a very heavy, but really fun to twirl around in.

Well, that was my five days in Monteverde!  Pictures will be posted below!

-Jaime

Share

Registration and arrival in Monteverde

Time February 23rd, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Costa Rica | No Comments by

Today we left the hotel with bags for Monteverde in hand and plans to register on the way.  We stopped at Universidad Nacional to do just that.  Once there we were greeted by a group of Amigos Ticos to help us through the process and to help recommend teachers and classes.  After, our group went to eat lunch and we were on the road again!  The trip was pretty long, however the scenery was beautiful.  There were many great views of the forest below as we cut through the mountains veering a little too close to the edge of the gravel roads for my taste.  We arrived after dark in Monteverde, somehow we had misplaced two hours and arrived very late to the institute.  When we arrived representatives from our host families were waiting along with some snacks.  We then had a charla about living with our host families in Monteverde and recieved a map of where everyone was staying and information about our families.   From my family one of the daughters (who is 7) and the father were there to great me.  When I went home with them I briefly met the other daughter (11) and the mother warmed me up some dinner.  I felt bad because we had arrived a whole two hours late and it was way past the girls’ bedtime.  The family, however, welcomed me just the same.

Well, stay tuned for more adventures!

-Jaime

Share

Two nights in a hotel

Time February 23rd, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Costa Rica | No Comments by

Arriving in Costa Rica was a whirlwind experience.  Once through customs and immigration I was greeted by a wall of people holding signs with names of different people, and taxistas competing for my attention.  It was a little startling but things quickly got better.  From the airport myself and two other IFSA students shared a taxi to the hotel Bougainvillea, which I am still not quite sure how to pronounce.  There we spent two nights and so started the infamous charlas, we did have some time in between these talks to explore the beautiful extensive garden behind the hotel.  I have some pictures below of these adventures.

That is all for now, next stop Monteverde!

-Jaime

 

Share

My Study Abroad Bulletin

Time February 2nd, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Costa Rica | No Comments by

Here it is, my first post on this blog.   I have been talking about writing this post for over a month, but somehow I am here writing it as I wait for my flight.  Even now as I sit here in my hiking boots typing this post, going abroad doesn’t seem “real” yet.  Studying abroad for Spanish is one of my life goals, and now it is almost here, as in a few hours away.  Enough reflection though, let’s get to the logistics!

For packing I brought a personal item (backpack) and a small checked bag.  My checked bag weighed in at 38.6 pounds.  I will include a packing list and what I wish I would have packed different towards the end of the experience, right now my guess of what to pack is as good as yours! Read More »

Share