Spanish students ‘immersed’ in Costa Rican culture

Tara Halbritter

Tara Halbritter

Spanish students found out that learning a language goes hand-in-hand with experiencing a culture.

Over 40 students went on a study abroad trip and studied at the University of Costa Rica in San Jose through May.

Students were assigned to live with host families. The majority of the families spoke little or no English, but some of the children knew English, said Megan Melmer, who heard about the program through posters and her classmates.

She explained that students received six credits for going on the trip.

“The motivation for a lot of people was to earn the credits,” Melmer said.

While the majority of students stayed only one month in Costa Rica, Sarah Jones enjoyed herself so much that she chose to stay even longer.

Jones said she, along with other American students, attended classes Monday through Thursday for four hours each day.

Jones enjoyed seeing how people live in Costa Rica.

“I had an amazing time learning the culture,” she said.

Melmer agrees.

“I think we all agree our Spanish is better just from being immersed in the culture,” she said. “If you’re going to major or minor in Spanish, I think it is important to learn the culture,” she said.

While in Costa Rica, the students took part in a number of activities and went on different weekend excursions. They visited museums, beaches, Arenal Volcano National Park, Tabacon Resort and Manuel Antonio National Park. The students also had the option of doing various activities, such as horseback riding, during the excursions. They also took mini-excursion trips during the week to local tourist attractions.

Students were also able to attend a soccer game while in Costa Rica. Melmer and Jones both said that soccer is as significant in Costa Rica as football is in the United states. They said the fans got very invovled in the game.

“Soccer is huge there,” Melmer said. “That is their sport.”

John Hall, the Spanish professor who also went on the trip, said it went well overall and was beneficial for the students.

“It was a memorable experience. I think the students had a great time,” he said.

Hall’s wife, Lucrecia, also went on the trip along with Isreal Herrara, a former instructor in the Spanish department. Hall organized the trip with the help of Roberto Acezedo, who resides in Costa Rica. Acezedo helped with preparations for the trip by planning events and weekend excursions for the students.