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Livin' La Vida Tica

As we’re dreaming of studying abroad and going to different cities and countries on the weekends, we tend to forget a main part of study abroad in San Jose: The actual studying and going to classes. Although everyday is a new adventure, here’s what a typical day might look like for a CEA San Jose study abroad student!

7AM: Eat breakfast with host mom, get ready for school, and go to school

8AM: If you’re taking a Spanish class in Costa Rica, chances are it will be an intensive class. This means it will be 4 hours a day, 5 days a week for four weeks. It sounds crazy at first, but it’s a great crash course to learning the language.

10AM: Since Spanish classes are so long, we have a 15-30 minute break everyday. Most people grab food from the cafeteria or the couple who sells fresh fruit, juice and empanadas. Personally, I walk to the French bakery down the street and indulge there. I go there so much that I know most people by name…

 One of the many postres at the French cafe

12PM: Lunchtime! Most people will go out to lunch or pack a lunch, but CEA is the only program in Costa Rica that has a kitchen at its office. A lot of us will buy groceries and make lunches there, which saves a lot of money for traveling on the weekends.

 Some of the traditional masks for Costa Rica's
version of Halloween in downtown San Jose

Afternoons: Elective classes are in the afternoons/evening and last for two hours twice a week. My electives are in the late afternoon, so I usually try to get some homework done in between or explore downtown San Jose. People with electives earlier in the day will usually get out and do something after, like visiting a museum, seeing a movie, or hanging out with friends or their host family.
 Walking back to class in downtown San Jose

7PM: Each family varies, but I eat dinner with my host family around 7pm every night. It’s usually just my Tico parents, my roommates and I, but sometimes my Tico sister and her daughter will join us for dinner, too. This is one of the best times to practice your language skills as well, and my Spanish has improved the more I talk with my host family.

After dinner: Depending on the night, sometimes I’ll do homework that I neglected earlier in the day, watch TV with my host mom or roommates, or meet up with friends.

Weekends: Depending on the weekend, you may have a CEA excursion planned, a free weekend to plan your own trip or stay in the city, or a field trip with your class. Traveling in Costa Rica is actually fairly easy, as many students pass on recommendations to each other as we venture different places. Just make sure to arrive plenty early for the bus! In addition, all of the environmental science classes through CEA have two field trips already planned to different places, and everything is included. This coming weekend, I’ll be going on a two-day field trip to go to Río Celeste with my ecological photography class!

Kathryn Moorhead is a Summer 2013 Seville, Spain alumna, CEA Alumni Ambassador at Iowa State University, and a Fall 2014 CEA MOJO in San Jose, Costa Rica. 

 Weekend trip to Bocas del Toro, Panamá

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