From left, Ana Chambers, Diane Cassidy, Matt Garber, Elijah Hayes, Adrienne Gonzalez, Adam Krell, Aggie Johnson and Stephanie Sweeting at the Botos Lagoon.
This summer, the Flagler College Latin American Studies department offered a faculty-led trip to Costa Rica for students looking for a deeper immersion experience in their major.
The following is an update on the program from Flagler student Adam Krell who is currently on location with fellow classmates Ana Chambers, Diane Cassidy, Matt Garber, Elijah Hayes, Adrienne Gonzalez, and Stephanie Sweeting.
The program is led by Assistant Professor Agnieszka Johnson.
It is not every day you get on a plane to travel to a different country for five weeks. Upon arriving in the beautiful country of Costa Rica, we were greeted by our host families at the airport, who speak no English. From that point on, it has been non-stop Spanish speaking for all of us. It is truly a rewarding experience watching not only myself, but also my friends grow in the language and culture.
Intercultura School of Languages here in Costa Rica strives to provide full Spanish immersion for students so we can fully develop the skills and techniques required for learning a second language. From the intensive Spanish courses and the homestay experience with our Tico (Costa Rican) family, we are building the confidence needed to speak in Spanish.
Each day we wake up early with the sun and eat breakfast with our host families. We converse about what we have planned and make our way to the school. Spanish class starts at 8:30 a.m. sharp each morning and lasts until 12:30 p.m. with two fifteen minute breaks. After taking an hour to walk around and eat lunch, we either have a Costa Rican cooking class or dance class followed by another class taught by our faculty leader, Professor Aggie Johnson. During the cooking classes, we have learned how to cook several local dishes, like Patacones (smashed plantains that are fried, like chips) with guacamole and beans, biscochos (a Costa Rican corn cookie), and empanadas, all while learning our way around the kitchen speaking Spanish. During our Latin dance class, we learn one of three styles of dance: merengue, salsa or bachata. As we move our hips to the beat, we have fun dancing with each other and a variety of other students who also are attending Intercultura.
Our other class, with Professor Johnson, is a Spanish literature course that will eventually end with each of us writing and reading our own short stories. This class is more challenging, as we come to class and discuss a short story completely in Spanish each day. After class, we head home to eat dinner with our host families and talk about our days. It’s non-stop Spanish speaking until we go to bed.
As we are ending our third week here in Heredia, a suburb of the country's capital of San José, we have experienced many different adventures. From seeing an active volcano, Póas, visiting a waterfall garden, taking a tour of the coffee plantation Doka (a local company near Heredia), to taking weekend trips to San José, we are not missing out on anything that Costa Rica has to offer.
In the next two weeks we are going white-water rafting on Mount Chirripó, the highest peak in Costa Rica, and making our way to Playa Sámara for a week. There, we will spend the week with another homestay family and attend classes right on the beach. When the week ends, we will make our way back to Heredia for one night and fly back to the United States on June 11.
As the Ticos say here in Costa Rica, ¡Pura Vida! (which translates to "pure life")