Alumni Q&A: Life in Heredia, Costa Rica

Aaron H. USAC alum profileName: Aaron Hoisington

Program Location: Heredia, Costa Rica

Program Term: Fall 2011- Spring 2012

1.    Why did you choose the program that you did?

I wanted to learn Spanish and study in a location for a full year. Costa Rica was affordable and offered the classes I was looking to take.

2.    If or when you study abroad again, where would you like to go? Why?

I would like to go to Thailand to experience a completely different culture than anything I have been exposed to in the past. Also, from what I have seen that region has beautiful scenery and a rich history.

3.    What are some of your favorite highlights from your time abroad?

The whole experience was a highlight! If I had to choose though I would say being exposed to a new culture, learning a new language, and making new friendships that will last me a lifetime were my top three highlights.

4.    In your experience, what are the major benefits of studying abroad?

Studying abroad gives you a whole different perspective on the world. Getting outside of your comfort zone and being thrust into a new culture truly helps a person discover who they really are. Also, learning a new language was a huge benefit for me.

5.    What were some of the special/unique things you were able to do or see?

I was able to travel throughout Central America and see volcanos, dolphins swimming, beautiful sunsets, and even a man hand feed live crocodiles!

6.    What was a funny cultural experience?

In Costa Rica, women greet men and visa versa with a kiss on the cheek. I had never experienced this action before and the first few times it was extremely awkward. However, after consistently practicing it I got used to this cultural experience.

7.    What did you learn about yourself?

I learned I can do anything I set my mind to. If someone would have told me four years ago I would study abroad in a country where I did not speak the language or know the culture I would have laughed in their face. Now I know I can overcome any hurdle placed in front of me no matter how daunting it seems. This can be applied to anything in life, and my current mindset reflects this realization.

8.    How did studying abroad change you?

I became a more independent person who realized the world was bigger than just the United States or even the state of Idaho. I also returned to the United States with a better world view and better respect for how much the actions/laws of other countries (especially the USA) affect the world as a whole.

9.    What’s one thing you would have done differently?

I would have taken more time while I was abroad to just stop and cherish how awesome this experience is and how incredibly fortunate I was to partake in this adventure. I spent so much time traveling around and doing new things, that I did not have time to reflect on how amazing my time abroad is.

10.  Now that you’re home, how has study abroad impacted your life?

I have structured my activities and employment opportunities around studying abroad. I worked at my home university for nine months as the USAC ambassador and Peer Advisor, and now I work as an Intern at the Central USAC Office in Reno. I realized that I need to encourage other people to take advantage of the amazing opportunities available to them through USAC. Also, I feel I have become a more well-rounded person who can also speak Spanish, which is awesome because just looking at me and my pale skin tone no one would assume that I could speak Spanish.

11.  How many years did it/will it take you to graduate?

I graduated in 4 years with two majors and a minor. Studying abroad did NOT put me behind for graduation.

12.  What advice would you tell students trying to decide whether or not to study abroad?

I have never heard anyone come back from studying abroad and regret the experience, but I have numerous times heard people express regret for NOT studying abroad. Take advantage of the opportunity. You will not regret it.

6 thoughts on “Alumni Q&A: Life in Heredia, Costa Rica”

  1. Living abroad is always an unforgettable experience, and teaches those kind of things in life you won’t learn in a book. And Costa Rica… what a country! A real treasure of nature! Thanks for sharing the experience.

  2. Studying abroad is life changing! And we hear ya about Costa Rica, it’s often referred to as “The most beautiful place on earth.” Thanks for sharing your experience with us! -USAC

  3. Hi Femi, We’ve sent you a message privately in reply to your initial Facebook message. Thanks for reaching out to us, we hope it helps. — USAC

  4. I studied abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica and it was a great experience!

    I would recommend going to Manuel Antonio, Puerto Viejo, and to monteverde.

    In terms of school USAC does an excellent job selecting instructors, bu one thing that I think they could improve upon is integrating the “gringos” with the natives.

    You can obtain a “conversation partner” and one time we did go commingle with another class, 1/2 speaking English the other 1/2 Spanish.

    But the full immersion is where real learning takes place.

    USAC does a great job.

  5. Thanks for the reply, Brent.

    Costa Rica is, as you probably know, dubbed “the most beautiful place in the world.” And, we definitely encourage our students to immerse themselves in the local culture, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we manage it 😉 That’s where it’s up to the individual to make those choices: venture down to the marketplace, check out local restaurants/food carts, look for fun events in town, and discover the many other adventures that await. We’re glad to, however, that you took advantage of traveling and exploring the country on your own. Don’t forget, you can always go again!


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