Classes at UNA and other fun adventures
Hello! So I think I’m about three or four blog posts in and I have yet to introduce myself! I feel like that’s kind of important so better late than never right?
My name is Nicolette and I’m a sophomore at Drake University but I’m from the Chicago suburbs. I’m 19 years old and I’m studying elementary education and Spanish. Studying abroad in Costa Rica is the farthest and longest amount of time I’ve been away from home.
Back to Costa Rica stuff, this week was our first week of classes. Through IFSA you’re required to take advanced Spanish which is usually divided into two different groups. For instance, one class meets at 1 on Tuesdays and Thursdays and my class meets at 8. The class is only offered to IFSA students. There’s also the option to take the Social History of Costa Rica or a literature class through IFSA which is also only offered to IFSA students. I’m in the literature class and can already tell that it’s going to be really interesting! Each student is required to take 15 credits while studying at la UNA (that’s short for Universidad Nacional). I’m taking an art class, a writing/communications techniques class, and a history course. Those last three classes are real university classes with other Costa Rican students. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t extremely intimidating/nerve-racking walking into those classes the first time. Luckily I’ve had at least one other IFSA student in each class with me so that helped calm some nerves. Classes here also work a little differently than most US classes that I’ve taken. They usually only meet once a week but they can range from 3-4 hours long. That has its ups and downs. On the up side, I don’t have Friday classes and the most classes I have in a day is 2. The down side is that it’s extremely difficult to pay attention for that long, especially since it’s really easy to tune out Spanish. After class, I went up to the professor and introduced myself. They can obviously tell that Spanish is not my first language and they all seem really understanding and willing to help. Homework hasn’t been too bad either, but it was only the first week. In all of my classes there are 2 tests, midterms and finals. Participation is also a high percentage of the grade as well. There is usually a group project and other little assignments that factor into the grade as well.
On a more fun note, this weekend a few friends and I explored the volcano Poas which is only about an hour bus ride from Heredia. It was gorgeous and worth the trip! That night we explored Heredia night life and got pizza but were so tired from our long day of hiking up a volcano that we ended pretty early. This morning was gorgeous so I took advantage of the community pool down the street from my house and swam laps. It only cost roughly $2 to get in. Afterwards, we explored San José and went shopping! There’s nothing like a little retail therapy to help with a stressful week of classes! Tonight, a few people from the group went out but I decided to save some money and watch a movie with my host family instead.
Poas! This volcano is technically still active but hasn’t erupted since 1953. Costa Rica has many volcanos to tour. Volcán Arenal leaks lava/molten rock (I’m not a science person, it leaks cool looking red stuff) and on a clear night you can see it in the sky!