Wednesday, February 16, 2011
FAQs-How I found Costa Rica & Dominican Republic
I received a question asking how I found the families I stayed with in DR and CR. I performed an EXTENSIVE Google search for Spanish immersion programs. For weeks, I looked at websites and compared amenities and prices. I asked around my network to get more information on the experience and how things work.
Finally, I settled on this company--Spanish Abroad. They have a very comprehensive site and I learned a lot about the different countries just from perusing their site. I had no idea if they would take my money and run but I just went with it and it worked out very well! I chose the countries based on how much money I wanted to spend and CR & DR were two of the cheapest. Ecuador and Guatemala are pretty cheap as well but I was concerned for my safety. In hindsight I wish I had gone to Guatemala as well.
Anyway, they enroll you in the school and book your time with the family. You are responsible for your flight, although they give you arrival and departure parameters. Your school books and two of your meals are included in the price. You can choose to stay in an apartment if you don't want to live with a family. Don't think that just because you live with a family you will practice Spanish. I lived with one family that was too busy to talk to me and another family that spoke English very well so they always spoke English to me first, which was annoying as H-E-double hockey sticks. But, overall, they were both amazing experiences.
So, I have learned that the total experience is very dependent upon that country's Spanish school, the family you stay with and the country itself. I had some experiences that weren't so great. Unfortunately, I won't share them here on the Internet for the world to see because some people may get offended and it just makes me look bad.
But, buyer beware. I have not had a bad experience with Spanish Abroad, however, they are just a broker. They only set-up the experience; the family, the school and the country you choose MAKE the experience. Plus, your attitude and expectations makes a big difference, too. Go with low expectations because our living standards here in the US are very, very different than many countries Spanish Abroad offers. I knew that going in so I wasn't too surprised at what I saw and experienced.
If you use them, please tell them I referred you. I think my Spanish immersion trips are over because I can't squeeze any more money from my family and friends, haha, plus a lot of my savings is slowly dwindling away, however, you never know what the future holds. I'd like for Spanish Abroad to know that I speak highly of them.
(As a side note, to the young lady that left the question, I could not send you a direct email because I didn't have an email address. I think you responded directly to the blog instead of entering your email address. Anyway, I hope this answers your question. If not, email me back, I'd love to hear from you again! Thanks!)