CISabroad Costa Rica Site Director Spotlight: Lisa
While you’re studying tropical or marine biology, perfecting your Spanish, or honing your photography craft, you’ll be in good hands with our on site Costa Rica director, Lisa. A native Tica with experience living in the United States, Lisa helps you adjust to the pura vida lifestyle, advise you on your courses and placement exams, and has a listening ear ready when you get homesick. Read on to learn more about her and for an inside scoop on our programs in Costa Rica!
Part of studying with CISabroad in Costa Rica involves volunteering in the local community. What type of volunteer work do students participate in besides working with underprivileged children?
We have had students volunteer at a butterfly farm in town, we’ve raised money for repairs at local schools and orphanages, students have worked with the elderly, and students have volunteered at national parks. Volunteering at the national parks must be done once the program is over since it is outside of San José.
When U.S. students take classes in English in Costa Rica, where do most of their international classmates hail from besides Costa Rica?
Students do not take classes with locals, so most of their classmates are from the United States, and sometimes Europe.
Apart from gallo pinto, the notion of pura vida, explaining what a tico is, what are your favorite local concepts, ways of life, dishes, festivals, etc. you enjoy introducing your students to?
Art and culture are very important to Costa Ricans, so going to the theater, or to street concerts and performances is a big part of life. There are cultural activities happening in the parks all around the downtown San José area on weekends. As for food, one of my favorite thing to give students to try is tortilla aliñada, which is a corn tortilla made with fresh cheese and dipped in natilla (sour cream).
There are a number of different subjects students can study in San José with CISabroad. Which ones draw students the most (beyond Spanish, of course!), and why?
The science classes, especially the marine biology course. There is so much diversity in the country that it makes it perfect for studying biology!
Outside of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Tamarindo, Poas Volcano, and Cataratas del Toro, what are some other excursions students can venture off to do on their own?
Our most popular excursions are Poas Volcano, Puerto Viejo and Cahuita snorkeling, Arenal Volcano, Manuel Antonio and the zip line tour.
What kinds of on-campus activities can students engage in at the Universidad Veritas in San José? Which ones are most popular, and why?
The dance class is the most popular one! They learn how to salsa and merengue, and sometimes visit the local dance club, where some of the best dancers in the country show off their skills.
Homesickness and language barriers are to be expected, but as students are adjusting to life in San José, what do they find most frustrating/difficult to get used to in Costa Rica in particular?
Not having their cell phones/cars, etc. I think losing the ability to be completely independent is difficult for them. The language barrier is definitely difficult.
The Spanish for Health Professionals program is a great option for nursing, physical therapy, global health, alternative health, psychology, pre-dentistry, and pre-medical students alike! Tell us more about the simulations students participate in for these various fields while studying in San José.
There are visits to two different hospitals, a public and a private one. However they do not perform any tasks since it would be too risky!
You’ve mentioned that you have worked in study abroad for 10 years. What do you like most about the field, and what’s the most frustrating?
I love showing off my country, seeing the students faces when we get to a beautiful beach, or when they finally get to see the monkeys and the sloths! I’ve also met some wonderful people along the way. The most frustrating part is seeing students with bad attitudes who don’t open their mind to new experiences. They make their own experience bad, as well as bring down the general feeling of the group.
What do you find most rewarding about working with students in your native Costa Rica?
I love being surrounded by young people, traveling, showing them all I can, and helping them have a wonderful experience while onsite.
There you have it! Let Lisa guide you on your health practicum placement in various hospitals, lead you to the perfect environmental science course, or introduce you to a sloth. While you’re away from home in the top country for ecotourism, biodiversity, and warm, patient people to help you polish your Spanish skills, no one is better fit than Lisa to help you achieve your goals in Costa Rica.