Eight McHenry County College students studied abroad in Costa Rica earlier this summer to sharpen their Spanish language skills and learn first-hand about the country’s culture and customs. Pictured at the Volcan Poas volcano in central Costa Rica are study abroad participants, front row, Ana Rosa Castaneda of Darien, Wis. (sitting), Desi Doyen of Wonder Lake (kneeling); back row, Emily Latz of McHenry, Hesther Perez of Delavan, Wis., Rafa Castaneda of Woodstock, John Callender of Island Lake, Danielle Anderson of Cary, Crystal Carbajal of Woodstock, and MCC instructor Lindsay Carson.
Eight McHenry County College students enhanced their Spanish-speaking skills by living in Costa Rica for four weeks this summer, where they experienced first-hand the culture and language that will be a part of their lives forever.
After hearing Spanish instructor Lindsay Carson talk about MCC's Study Abroad program in Costa Rica where Carson served assistant director, the students jumped at the opportunity to gain a new perspective and explore the culture of Costa Rica, along with its beautiful vistas, including rainforests, mountain regions and volcanoes. Each student lived with Spanish-speaking Costa Rican host families and experienced the culture and customs of the native Costa Ricans, also known as Ticos.
The students attended Spanish and culture classes in the morning and explored museums, restaurants and national parks in the afternoons. They sampled a taste of the Ticos' vibrant night life of mingling and dancing.
"We ate a lot of healthy foods," stated Emily Latz, "including rice and beans and a lot of fruits and vegetables." Latz stayed with a family in Curridabat, which is part of San Jose.
Latz, of McHenry, is one of two MCC students who earned a $500 scholarship from MCC's Study Abroad program that helped offset the study abroad cost of $3,000. She is taking Spanish classes at MCC toward her associate in arts degree and eventually toward her social work degree when she transfers to a four-year school next fall.
In addition to the memories of the beautiful mountainous scenery, Latz said she will treasure the Ticos' easy-going nature. "I learned more everyday vocabulary, Latz added, but I struggled sometimes with communicating and I have never experienced that feeling before. The patience and understanding of communicating with someone who doesn't speak English will always remain in my life."
For Danielle Anderson, the best thing about Costa Rica was "being in the country itself, not on a resort, but riding the bus like the Ticos did every day and experiencing the day-to-day life of a typical family."
Anderson takes Spanish classes at MCC because she enjoys the language and plans to minor in Spanish when she transfers to a four-year university next fall.
"I wanted to study abroad because I felt like it was an experience that would change my perspectives on life and the world forever, and it would be a great way to learn more about Spanish and speak it more fluently," Anderson said.
Anderson said the experience has strengthened her Spanish-speaking skills and expanded her knowledge of the Spanish culture.
"I have learned to be more confident with my Spanish speaking and I learned that in other parts of the world, traditions and customs are so different everywhere you go," Anderson said. "Of course, we learn about customs and cultures in our social studies classes, but that’s nothing actually living in a different culture."
Study Abroad opportunities for MCC students are available in Austria, China, Costa Rica, England, Ireland and Spain. For more information on MCC's Study Abroad program, contact Carson at (815) 479-7723 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.