The GoGlobal Blog

Yes, I do actually study here!

Yes, I do actually study here!

After posting all of my photos on Facebook, to share with family and friends, the number one question I received was “Joanna, are you actually in school or was this a hoax for a long vacation?”  For everyone that is very much worried about this, yes, I do actually study here! 

So let me explain how classes work here. We have to be enrolled in 12-18 credit hours to be a full time student through USAC, the program here in Costa Rica. Classes run everyday aside from the weekend. We have class on Fridays, but only in the mornings. Every class runs for 3 hours! You read that correctly, 3 hours! Because of the long hours, each class usually meets only once a week. The Spanish track classes, however, meet more than once. The track classes are the average Spanish class you would take at Loyola.

On top of my track 4 classes (6 credits) I have also elected Latin American short story and essay, Latin American cultures and Latin American literature (each 3 credits). With most of my classes meeting only once a week, I had every Thursdays completely free, but decided I would like to do something instead. A lot of the professors from these classes find fun ways to teach us about the language and culture. We have had field trips, went to coffee shops for class, and even incorporated soccer into our lesson plans!

A great experience that USAC offers, that I have decided to take part in, is volunteering at local schools to help teach English. I have been helping a teacher in a  nearby school with 1st and 3rd graders. These kids are amazing and it is very rewarding nonetheless. I am learning from them as much as they learn from me, not only Spanish but also the culture! One of the little girls in 3rd grade wrote me the cutest letter after just 3 Thursdays of volunteering. I recommend taking part in things like this no matter where you study abroad!

When it comes to my classwork and homework, I would definitely say it is all challenging, but not impossible! My professors are all very supportive and willing to help. The literature professor encourages us to call her at home if we need any help with homework or have any questions about our reading for class. The track 4 Spanish class professor gives us exams in partners, where we have to reason with each other (in Spanish of course!) to find the correct answer and explain it.

A lot of the homework involves reading, and a lot of it! A lot of the classes are based on participation, which needs to be in Spanish. The professors here want you to make mistakes so that they can help you correct them. As a piece of advice, prepare yourself for a lot of this and don’t take it personally. The professors are all there to help, not to criticize because they all know how hard it is to learn another language. All of my professors speak at least one other language and can easily relate to us as students.

And of course, if anything ever causes us problems in our studies, we have a great team of USAC people to help us resolve them.

Like mentioned before though, when studying abroad, you need to be open to learning from more than just the regular classroom. I can honestly say that I learn more outside of the regular sit at your desk, look at the board and listen to the professor, setting. I learn at home, from the host family, from ordering at a restaurant, from taking a cab, a bus, listening to music, and even from just reading every sign I encounter. Keep your eyes and ears open! That’s the full experience of study abroad, your learn from EVERYTHING.

Until next time,

Pura Vida!


The note I received from a 3rd grader 🙂
An average day in class. Notes and coffee!
Encouraging self SnapChats for those 4 page essays!


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