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5 Study Abroad Questions Answered by CEA's Program Director in Costa Rica

March 03, 2014
by CEA MOJO
I recently sat down with Maggie Banchs, the CEA Program Director in San José, Costa Rica, to discuss the program and what it's like to live here.
 Maggie Banchs, CEA Program Director in San José

How would you describe San José? 

San José is a very interesting city. It’s actually different from what people may think form the outside because I know Costa Rica has the label of being all natural and all about the environment, but when you come here, you realize we’re just another city. There are a lot of cars, noise, and people – there are almost a million people here in San Jose alone. So it’s a great city and has a lot to offer, especially a lot of cultural activities. We have everything a major city has.

How are the academic courses here? 

I’ve noticed that it’s not necessarily more difficult here but there’s definitely a cultural difference between here and the States. The workload here is larger because you’re here for a three month program, taking three or four courses and earning a lot of credits. So of course everything goes by faster here with that schedule. It’s a shorter time, it’s very intense, especially with Spanish courses, which is an 80 hour class over the course of four weeks.

With that being said, do students have a chance to travel? 

If a student is organized and really has great time management, then yes, of course. You can do homework during the weekdays, and travel during the weekends. I remember one specific group who were very organized and they traveled somewhere different every weekend. In four months, they went from the north coast all the way down to the south coast, to Nicaragua and Panama, so, yes it’s possible.

What goal does CEA here in San José strive to accomplish in relation to its students? 

Our main priority here is to make sure our students are safe and feel comfortable with everything: the city, the surroundings, adapting to a new culture, to a new city and to a new environment. CEA is the first contact a student has while they’re here and we want them to know that they can come here with anything. Basically, our main goal is to always make sure the students are getting the best experience and are feeling comfortable with themselves and their new environment.

Why is it important for students to study abroad? 

I studied abroad when I was 20 years old and it changed who I was. It gives you a different perspective of the world, of people, and of whom you are and it pushes you to limits. If you don’t get out of your comfort zone and out of your little bubble, you’re never going to learn. It teaches you how to survive, which is a plus, especially in the work environment because you have to compete. You have to adapt to a new everything here also: new friends, new culture, new city, new air, and a new environment. You make lifelong friends and experience something most people don’t. So put the fear aside and come and study abroad. It’s definitely a life changing experience. 
 The flag of Costa Rica in downtown San José
Leslie Brown is the Spring 2014 CEA MOJO in San José, Costa Rica. She is currently a junior at Winthrop University.

Read more about our CEA MOJO Bloggers & Photographers.
 
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