"Life-changing experiences. I learned so much about myself, I have become a more confident person. I have struggled with a lot of self confidence problems in my life, but through this program I have become more independent and I have learned to love myself. I have found a love for traveling and trying new things. I find that I am constantly looking at life in a new perspective, Ticos (the nickname for the people of Costa Rica) take things at a much slower place than the US. I too have learned from them, to slow down and experience what is important in life. I have a bigger appreciation for nature and the way the world works. "Pura Vida" (Pure Life) has become more than just a phrase, but a way of life. This has been the most worthwhile experience I have ever had. With 3 hours of Spanish class Monday through Thursday, you are able to spend a lot of time in classes but also spend a lot of time exploring Costa Rica and applying what you learned in class to the outside world, something that is lost with Spanish classes in the States.Janiva and Jessenia were our Program directors. They are probably the two most warm, welcoming, and supportive people that I have ever met. They always promote us to talk in Spanish when we are together (other gringos) and they made sure we had the right classes. If we had any problems they were prompt about helping us out. I don't think I would have been able to survive these 4 months without them.I absolutely LOVED my housing arrangements. I lived with a host family, which really made me learn to speak Spanish a lot. My mama tica didn't speak any english, so you HAVE to learn to communicate with the people you live with. I began as a beginner and I can pretty much say I left at an Advanced level. Costa Rican food is absolutely delicious, casados are both cheap and delicious no matter where you are. A casado involves rice, beans, a meat, salad, and platanos. Platanos are absolute life, they are pretty much always available as well and I don't know how I am going to live without them. If you don't try to involve yourself, then you won't feel integrated. You have to force yourself to be out there. My mama tica always made me feel like I was at home and part of the family. She treated me like a daughter and that helped feel closer to the culture. SOL had many experiences for us to be part of the culture, we had cooking, baking, and dancing classes, we learned about coffee picking and visited a local ballet. We had so many chances to meet ticos and be apart of Costa Rica."