Costa Rica Will Always Be Home – Alumni Q&A

Cindy Rodriguez studied abroad for a year in Heredia, Costa Rica. Cindy told us why she chose to study a year, and what she learned during her study abroad.

Why did you choose to study abroad in Heredia?

Before deciding my study abroad location, I had many many other places in mind. I was able to narrow it down by factors of cost, and location. Heredia is in the valley and it’s closest to the capitol; where you must go if you want to do a lot of travel. Heredia was the best location for me because I got to experience and do more of what I was looking to do during my study abroad.

Why did you choose to study abroad a year?

Going for a year has always been on my to-do list. Going for a semester didn’t make sense to me. I knew that I would get much more of my experience if I went for an academic year rather than a semester and I was right! As soon as the end of fall semester came, I imagined myself leaving and couldn’t do it. An academic year is worth it.

How did you budget for a yearlong program?

The way I budgeted for a yearlong program was definitely saving, saving, and saving. I also was fortunate enough to receive the Chico Study Abroad Scholarship and Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship. I lived with a host family and they provided three meals a day and although I did get to eat out a few times, it does get expensive, so I cut eating out as a form to save money except on my weekend trips.

How did you manage homesickness?

Homesickness was not a big deal for me since I traveled away from home for college. It was like any other school year. It did however, hit me the most during holidays like Christmas, New Years and Thanksgiving. I kept a journal to reflect and I also tried to always have something to do to distract myself from being homesick.

In what ways were you pushed out of your comfort zone and how did that help you grow as a person?

Spanish being my first language was beneficial for me in Costa Rica, but using Spanish in some settings was very difficult when using technical terms. For example, I did an internship at the Judicial Investigation Department where most of the terms are law terms and court process terminology. This is where I was pushed out of my comfort zone the most. To ensure I knew what I was talking about I pushed myself to learn and be comfortable with Spanish terms that could help me with my future career.

What did you learn about yourself during your time abroad?

I learned many things about myself. Being on your own in a town like Chico helped me grow but being away in a different country definitely pushed me in many ways. I learned more about who I was as a person, my identity, and it helped me connect with my culture. I was able to connect more within myself. Studying abroad helped me become more aware of social injustices around the world and being understanding of ones culture. It’s more than just traveling. Costa Rica will always be home to me. Pura Vida!