Costa Rica: Language, Society, & the Environment testimonials
My semesters in Costa Rica with ACM were probably the most formative period in my life. My career as a geographer is largely made possible by perspectives on real life in another country that I gained during that year. The fall Latin American Culture program made me a Latin Americanist and the spring Field Research program made me capable of doing field research. I can't think of another experience, career-wise, that has had a greater influence. I am deeply indebted to my gracious host family for this, as well as to the broader ACM community for maintaining such a rich and stimulating social atmosphere over the years.
—Jacob Brenner, Department of Environmental Studies and Science, Ithaca College, Costa Rica 1999-2000
Studying abroad in Costa Rica with ACM taught me far more than I could have anticipated. It instilled in me a deeper understanding of how a language reflects its culture, a stronger sense of independence, a true appreciation for the relationships we can forge, and so much more. Most importantly, however, the program's staff, bi-weekly field trips and 3-week rural stay, did a spectacular job of immersing us in the 'pura vida', the Costa Rican way of life, its vibrancy, vivacity and utter delight.
—Carmelita Rosner, Costa Rica, Fall 2011
After my study abroad experience, Costa Rica is no longer a small foreign country on the world map. Instead it is a place that I experienced firsthand. I had the privilege of being a part of Costa Rican culture and society and learned from it every step of the way. Every day I learned new words through experiences (as opposed to vocabulary lists), observed natural and cultural beauty, and had a chance to apply what I was learning in Spanish class through natural conversations with native speakers. Studying abroad for me was more than just traveling or living in a foreign country. It was a highly valuable learning experience acquired from day-by-day adventures of experiencing Costa Rica, that encouraged me to test my limits and connect to the world that surrounds me.
—Karen Skadow, Costa Rica, Fall 2007
Studying abroad in Costa Rica was an amazing experience that I would recommend to everyone. My new friends and teachers became my family. My host family and teachers became my friends. My friends and host family became my teachers.
—Meghan Keenan, Costa Rica, Fall 2012
My semester in Costa Rica was the best semester of my college career so far. I learned more and grew as a person more than I thought possible. My independence grew as a result of navigating in an unfamiliar place, and seeing that I was capable of succeeding at this increased my confidence. Both my San José and rural stay families welcomed me into their homes and provided me with their own unique perspectives on Costa Rican life and culture. I especially enjoyed having the freedom to travel and explore the country, and I developed incredibly close friendships with my fellow ACM students. I am so grateful for the opportunities this program offered me, and it is an experience I will never forget.
—Natalie Talbert, Costa Rica, Fall 2008
I came to Costa Rica with ACM with limited Spanish, directionless in my career path, and knowing no one. Leaving three months later, I was almost fluent, I had direction in my life, and a handful of lifetime friends and experiences. The ACM Costa Rica program changed my life in ways that I hoped it would, and ways that I never expected.
—Claire Hammer, Costa Rica, Fall 2008
I really enjoyed my time on the ACM Costa Rica program. I definitely learned the most from living with my host family. My Spanish speaking skills increased tremendously from communicating with them. They also taught me so much about Costa Rican culture and how families operate. And they did such a great job of taking care of me while I was away from home!
—Cassidy Heller, Costa Rica, Fall 2006
I learned more in Costa Rica than any college classroom or textbook could ever offer. It gave me the opportunity not only to study and speak Spanish, but to also explore the people and country behind the language. Being able to live in Latin America and see what a beautiful, vibrant culture it has was the most rewarding experience of my life. My fall spent with ACM was life-changing, giving me unforgettable memories and a stronger sense of purpose.
—Alex Nikazmerad, Costa Rica, Fall 2009
When I look back on my experience in Costa Rica, there are so many memorable moments- I learned so much about the culture, the language, and the people while I was there. My little abuelita taught me to cook picadillo de papas and keep a positive attitude. I learned how to navigate through the countryside even after my bus broke down. The natives of Guatil de Santa Cruz taught me how to turn clay into beautiful pottery. Above all, the scenery and people were amazing!
—Michelle Nikolai, Costa Rica, Fall 2005
For me, the program was an ideal blend of academics and intense experiential learning. I still have vivid memories of picking coffee alongside my host sister, sleeping on the same beach where giant sea turtles were laying their eggs, hiking through rainforests, and tasting raw cacao for the first time. These experiences have stayed with me through the years and inform my passion for teaching Spanish today.
—Ruth Hoff, Assoc. Professor of Languages, Wittenberg University, Costa Rica, Fall 1984
My study abroad experience through the ACM Costa Rica fall program was an unforgettable experience that defined my college career. I grew as a Spanish speaker and critical thinker through a variety of unique and intimate classes with highly knowledgeable and caring professors. The interdisciplinary nature of the program created a holistic learning experience that not only honed my Spanish language skills, but made me think critically about the culture and environment of my new home. Thanks to my incredible host family and the ACM staff I found a second home in Costa Rica that was filled with adventure and learning that has enriched my life for the better.
—Sarah Laven, Costa Rica, Fall 2011
If you are enthusiastic about learning Spanish, this program is perfect--you will be challenged rather than frustrated. Before ACM Costa Rica I had never lived in a big city, taken a bus or taxi, or lived with another family. My experience was fun and not stressful because ACM taught me everything and was there to support me whenever I needed help. I met many Costa Ricans and I also got to know my own culture and generation better through three months of close proximity with my US classmates. It was a perfect introduction on how to get along in a foreign country.
—Heidi Skrukrud, Costa Rica, Fall 2011
My time in Costa Rica has come to constitute much more than just the semester I was there. I created strong bonds with the people, the country, and the Spanish language to such an extent that they still affect my daily life. I learned a great deal about myself, my passions, and my limits. From the many ACM excursions, to a day in with my host family, to an unforeseen hour-long conversation with my taxi driver, I found myself inquiring, discovering, and growing. While I continue to keep in touch with my host families, my hope is to return soon with fellow ACM classmates to rekindle old relationships and generate new ones. Ultimately, committing to a semester in Costa Rica was one of the most invaluable experiences of my life, and I never could have predicted or anticipated its lasting impact on my life and myself.
—Kelsey Smith, Costa Rica, Fall 2007
Looking back, I have realized that my time in Costa Rica was less about learning the language and more about building strong relationships. It is not that we did not learn lots of Spanish (oh boy, did we ever!), but the people I met in Costa Rica will leave an impression on me that will last forever. I met many great people, some of whom I now call good friends. ACM Costa Rica made me more confident in my abilities, and gave me valuable insight into my future. It also gave me a new family and a place that I have no problem with calling "home."
—Paul Appel, Costa Rica, Fall 2009
From the moment I leaned completely over to hug my host mother, I knew things were going to be different, but I had no idea in what capacity. Going into the ACM Costa Rica program, I had extremely high expectations academically and the program not only exceeded them, but also offered so much more. Over the course of the semester I saw some of the most beautiful things and places I've ever witnessed, and learned to truly appreciate natural beauty. In the classroom, I studied with wonderful professors and received the Spanish education I've always wanted, pushing my abilities further than I had even hoped. In my homes, I found new mothers and siblings. In my classmates, I found soul mates.
—Amanda Scott, Costa Rica, Fall 2011
Studying abroad in Costa Rica through ACM was one of the best decisions I have made for myself academically, as well as personally. The program was beneficial academically because it gave me the opportunity to improve my Spanish substantially, while at the same time having an incredible time becoming immersed in the Costa Rican culture. Personally, the program was beneficial because it gave me so much self-confidence to know I was capable of going to a foreign country by myself and thriving. I will never forgot the friends I made and the experiences I had while abroad in Costa Rica.
—Alexia Romero, Costa Rica, Fall 2008, JD Candidate at Stanford Law School