Elle Farrell’s major at SDSU is international business with an emphasis in Western Europe and Spanish. Her college requires students to study abroad (however, Costa Rica is not her required country), so she chose Costa Rica as a supplemental experience for her Spanish study.
Having dual citizenship (U.S. and Switzerland), Farrell travels a lot, so she had no reservations about studying in Costa Rica. “I love traveling and would go practically anywhere if there were an opportunity. Who wouldn’t want to go to Costa Rica? It was my second time visiting there, so I knew it was a great place to go,” says Farrell.
When asked about her first day in Alajuela, Farrell adds, “I met my host family at the airport and they were incredibly sweet and didn’t speak a word of English. Taxi drivers ask you a million times, ‘Taxi? Taxi? Necesita taxi?’ and the city of Alajuela is fairly small with lots of shops. We stopped at a local panaderia to get fresh pan dulce and we ate that for breakfast.”
Farrell studied with a group of 16 and each person lived with a host family. “The town we lived and studied in was far away from the touristy spots like the volcanoes, beaches, and water rafting, so all the students came together every weekend and traveled to these spots and stayed in hostels. These were fun adventures during our trip and we were able to form awesome friendships during our own time. I now have class with two of the girls who were in my group,” says Farrell.
Although Alajuela is a small town a distance away from the major cities in Costa Rica, Farrell explains that the location makes it a valuable takeaway, “Living outside of a touristy area gives you an immersed experience in the heart of Costa Rica with families who have been living there their entire lives. I learned so much about the Tico (Costa Rican) culture, people, and language. However, bring books to read and your computer because there is a lot of down time after class. Life is calm and not rushed. The experience taught me to relax and remind myself that every little thing will be alright.”