Leaving the country to live and study in another place is as scary and exciting as it sounds. My time abroad was filled with all sorts of emotions. I studied in Costa Rica and lived with a host family that only spoke Spanish. At that point, I only had basic Spanish skills, and in my first few weeks there it was a real struggle. However, that is exactly why I picked the program I picked, KEI, and why I traveled abroad. I wanted to challenge myself and boost my language learning skills and this program offered exactly what I was looking for. Studying Abroad is something I would recommend to everyone interested in expanding their knowledge of the world.
My first few weeks in Costa Rica were filled with many emotions. They were filled with awe, nervousness, and most of all, excitement. I remember stepping off of the plane and being surrounded by Spanish. The signs, billboards, the news on the TVs, and everyone speaking all around me. After the first week of living in Costa Rica, I felt very overwhelmed with the language and getting settled in. It took about a week or two before the nervousness began to subside and I was able to begin feeling comfortable with myself.
One thing that helped me a lot during my time in Costa Rica was the professors and staff working with KEI. The professors that work with this program are some of the best I have ever had and I would like to return to Costa Rica one day simply to visit them. When I arrived I had very basic Spanish skills, however, by the end of the program I was comfortable presenting and having conversations completely in Spanish. As the semester continued, I formed a strong bond with them in class and also on the trips we were able to take every weekend. The trips were another key reason why I chose this program. During the week there are four days of classes Monday through Thursday, but after that students are free to explore the country on their own or choose from a faculty led program for certain parts of the country. In my opinion, as well as the opinion of my professors, exploring the country and the different environments in the country is just as important as learning the language in the classroom. Not simply visiting these places but getting to know the people living in them as well.
Learning to me is not sitting in a classroom and reading a textbook. This is an aspect of learning and it is important, however, putting myself in the shoes of others and truly living in their reality showed me much more than a textbook ever could. Being in Costa Rica with the amazing help and guidance of the professors at KEI has helped me grow not only my mind but also my appreciation for learning in general. I would strongly encourage anyone looking to study Spanish and learn more about Latin American culture to book a trip with KEI as soon as possible.
Trent Ochsenreiter (BA Humanities: International Studies) spent Fall 2022 studying abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica through KEI. Trent had the following to say about studying abroad, “I would describe studying abroad as boosting your growth. Experiencing change and seeing life from a different perspective will bring development, whether it be personal, educational, or both. The ability to view life through a different lens is essential to understand the world and the people around us.”
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