Meet Markus, an adventurous student from Germany who spent a semester abroad in Costa Rica at ULACIT. Back home, he is a student of Digital Media at Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University. Markus applied to study abroad in Costa Rica as a freemover with Beyond Abroad. Here is his story of an unforgettable study-abroad experience in the country of Pura Vida!
How was the application process for your semester abroad in Costa Rica?
It all started with a visit to my international office, where they introduced me to various study-abroad opportunities. One option that caught my attention was applying through Beyond Abroad. After exploring their website and the exciting study destinations they offered, I had a chat with a Beyond Abroad employee. They explained that I could choose to study in Costa Rica or consider other universities. The application deadline was on December 12th, and classes were set to begin in mid-January. Feeling spontaneous, I decided on Costa Rica and quickly filled out the online application. To my surprise, I received an acceptance email almost immediately. As I completed the whole application process, I received the good news just in time for Christmas – I was accepted at ULACIT, and my journey abroad was set to begin in January. The whole process was very smooth, and I couldn’t have been happier with this fantastic ending to the year!
How was your first experience when arriving in Costa Rica?
When my semester abroad in Costa Rica started, I wasn’t alone – a friend from my home university came with me. I hardly knew a word of Spanish and only knew Costa Rica through Google. But I have to say, during my time there, I got to know and love the language and the culture very well. The first month was so exciting! We met many new people, and the culture was very different, but everyone was kind and welcoming.
How was your study experience in Costa Rica at ULACIT?
The university experience is also very different from what I’m used to in Germany. Classes can be in the evening and only last for one and a half hours, unlike the three to four hours in Germany. It was also much more about practice than theory. The exams were similar, with a presentation on a specific topic, including a written summary. This meant that an oral and written paper always had to be handed in. The subjects were communicated early on, and the lessons were often built around them. Small groups worked on topics and presented them to other students. One really cool thing was studying with local students. It gave me a chance to experience their way of learning. I took a course that focused specifically on the history and sustainability of Latin America. Moreover, I had a course where we had a lot of cultural exchange between everyone, which I found super exciting!
How important is the quality of the university for your semester abroad?
The quality of the university was one of my top priorities when deciding to study abroad. The Beyond Abroad staff provided excellent guidance on university choices during the application process. ULACIT itself has a lot to offer. There were plenty of opportunities, from special programs for exchange students to additional courses that everyone could take. I was determined to attend a university that offered a valuable learning experience and would stand out on my CV.
Additionally, I was eager to explore different and innovative teaching methods. The university courses I chose were Quality Management, Managerial Decision Modeling, International Club, and Microeconomics. My favorite course was Microeconomics.
What did you do besides studying in Costa Rica?
I did a lot of traveling. We explored numerous beaches and national parks here in Costa Rica, witnessing its breathtaking nature. Besides that, we enjoyed partying in local clubs, which was a lot of fun! My main focus has been meeting locals who generously share their knowledge of the country. Exploring Costa Rica with locals is advantageous because they show you things you might miss on your own. For instance, you would need help discovering beautiful spots with various flowers and unique animals. The extraordinary nature and diversity genuinely make it an outstanding experience.
Back in Germany, I used to go to a fitness club to stay active. However, I will take a surfing lesson in Santa Theresa, one of the well-known surf spots. I plan to rent a board and continue surfing independently after the classes.
Read more about our students’ lives in Costa Rica here!
How did you improve your language skills, and how did you deal with communication challenges?
I improved my English because I only had contact with English-speaking students. On the other hand, all my courses were in English (as were the exams). So, I was willing and challenged to solve the tasks in English. This also caused some communication problems. I was always able to improve and optimize my English with the help of a translator. In the beginning, I spoke to Costa Ricans myself via Google Translate. This eased off over time as I became more confident and taught myself another foreign language through daily learning.
Did your semester abroad in Costa Rica influence your academic interests or goals?
My semester abroad in Costa Rica was the deciding factor for why I want to work overseas now. I learned to appreciate and love learning about other cultures and discovering the world. At the same time, I also enjoy working and learning much more here, as I can learn more than just technical things from others. My stay has shown me that it was the right decision to try it out and stick to my goal.
What advice would you give to students who are considering studying abroad?
All I can say is, “Go abroad!”. Make these experiences because they’re truly unique, and you won’t want to miss out. Take every chance that comes your way. In Costa Rica, the people are great, the country is beautiful, and you outgrow yourself. Living and studying here is so different, and I’m sure you’ll miss it when it’s over. As we say here: Pura Vida!
“Just do it! It was great, the people are great, Costa Rica is beautiful, and you outgrow yourself!”
Asia Exchange is a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities in Asia Pacific for students from all around the world. Beyond Abroad is their sister brand with study destinations in Europe and Latin America. Want to get travel tips and new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter! If you have any questions about studying abroad, please contact us! We’ll get back to you as soon as possible