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SPI STUDY ABROAD - BLOG

My SPI Story: A Day at the Farm in Monteverde

Today was a very eventful day. I could probably write a whole lot of things we did today and most probably will. So, here we go!

I woke up early to take a shower and get ready. Then, Katie (my roommate) and I ate breakfast with our mama tica and, meanwhile, watched a telenovela. For breakfast, we had “gallo pinto”, or rice mixed with beans, eggs, and a mixed fruit. The mixed fruit contained the usual bananas, pineapples, and papayas. I honestly don’t know how an actual papaya looks like, but it’s red in color and tastes bitter to me. I’m not accustomed to the taste, but it’s okay. Anyways, as we were eating our mama tica showed us the biggest insect in the world. It was huge! She said it was a rhino beetle.

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However, in Costa Rica, it is common to have insects of any size (yes, even the size of your hand) to crawl around the house. It’s crazy, but here it’s kind of like having a house pet. We were told not to harm them because they are not harming us. Ticans are very open to animal and insects. This has shown me to broaden my perspective and realize that it’s okay to not harm insects if they’re not invading your privacy. After some time, our mama tica took the insect and fed it some bananas.

We arrived at the meeting point at eight o’clock. We boarded the bus and headed to the Café de Monteverde where we toured large coffee plantations and learned a lot of information about coffee. For example, coffee originated in Africa. Also, when coffee is a baby plant it is green in color. Then it sheds its coating and turns red. Later, we traversed the peaceful forest de Monteverde and tried to look for sloths, but, unfortunately, could not find one.
Afterwards, we visited fields of corn, wheat, tomato, and bananas, and plantains.

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We also got to see baby pigs that were born that night! They were absolutely adorable!

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We also learned the various reasons for having a pig or goat. A pig can supply a family of five for a month with electricity and gas for cooking, using the pig’s feces.

After the tour, we had an emplenada, or cheese tortilla, and coffee cultivated from the farm. The coffee was excellent! Gosh, so good.
After that, we went to CPI and attended cooking class to prepare our lunch for that day. It was really fun, although I just shredded carrots for thirty minutes. But, it was fun.

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After eating rice with multiple vegetables and salad, we attended class for the remainder of the day. After class, the entire SPI grouped wanted to meet up in Santa Elena and explore the city. It was somewhat difficult to ask our host family to let us go to Santa Elena. She seemed somewhat ambivalent to let us go after staying with her for only a day and a half. Katie and I didn’t want her to wait for us as far as eating dinner. We didn’t know how to say it español and tried to avoid miscommunication as much as possible. After telling her we were going in a group, she felt a bit relieved. We found our friends along the way. We all met up at the heladería, or ice cream shop, to taste the local Monteverde dairy products.
I had a great time eating ice cream and exploring the ciudad like real adults. It was pretty exciting. Then all of us went to Woods, the souvenir shop across the street. I tried to look for small things I could gift my parents and little sister and friends in the United States. I found my sister a “Pura Vida” keychain. Pura vida is a common phrase that wishes you well, and people of Costa Rica exchange “Pura vida!” quite often.

I got a matching shirt with my SPI peer but couldn’t find anything for my parents. Well, that’s my next mission: find a gift para mis padres.
On our way home, Katie and I realized that there really wasn’t much point in washing your hair in Monteverde because every afternoon it rains. And I repeat, EVERY day. But, the weather was very cooling and I really liked it.
Well, that’s a wrap for today. Oh, and I forgot, today we saw a rainbow – a double rainbows from one end to the other. It was so cool and I guess you could say that was the highlight of my day. Buenas noches.

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About the Author: Deeksha Mishra attended SPI’s Costa Rica program in Monteverde during summer 2015. To read more about her time abroad, check out her personal blog here.

A Life-changing Experience!

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Request Your Catalog Today.

Fill out the form below and we will send you a catalog and get in touch. Please note all fields are required.

A Life-changing Experience!

Get ready to experience and SPI Abroad program yourself. Learn more about our programs or request more information today.

Request Your Catalog Today.

Fill out the form below and we will send you a catalog and get in touch. Please note all fields are required.

On-Site Supervision Team Abroad

We hire bilingual high school teachers, university professors, and caring local staff who, as a team, serve as international “moms and dads” throughout the program. Directors actively participate in all aspects of the immersion experience: helping with housing adjustments, checking in on classes, and making sure students are taking advantage of the wonderful excursion and activity opportunities. All SPI staff go through extensive reference checks.

Training & Experience

Directors are selected based on their experience working with teenagers in an international setting, their ability to communicate fluently in the language of study, and their academic & professional background. All on-site staff go through an intensive training process.

Daily Supervision

Students are expected to be respectful of their directors’ guidelines and abide by the SPI standards of conduct at all times. SPI directors and program staff are available 24 hours a day. Directors check in with students on a daily basis in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings; they also frequently monitor all aspects of each student’s progress. Homestays and residence directors are contacted to learn how students are adjusting, and to handle any concerns. Daily curfews are enforced.

Student Behavior Expectations

Since 1996, we have proudly attracted an academically-minded student body focused on improving their language skills and growing from cultural experiences. At SPI, we take our role as teachers seriously — we recognize that we are responsible for guiding students through one of their most life-changing experiences. We expect students not only to abide by our standards of conduct at all times, but also to serve as ambassadors of their local communities, schools, and cities.

No Alcohol Policy

SPI maintains a strict policy against the use of alcohol. Directors check in with students in the evenings; however, parents are expected to review our standards of conduct with their children and set clear family expectations prior to the start of the program with regards to their behavior abroad.

Afternoon Elective Activities

Our meaningful afternoon elective activities make local culture, art, architecture, museums, sports, and attractions come to life! Each program offers a variety of engaging activities designed to combine serious fun with truly inspiring “once in a lifetime” experiences. Electives are not included in the program price, and we suggest students budget $100 per week for participation in these incredible learning experiences.

Common Afternoon Electives

CULTURAL: Cooking, Dance, Art & Architecture, Museum & Theater Visits, Local Sporting & Cultural Events

SPORTS: Surfing, Volleyball, Soccer, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Hikes & Walks

ENRICHMENT: Photography, College Prep (Essay Writing, Admissions Prep), Photography, Guest Speakers

Sample Travel Excursions

SPAIN: Bilbao, Pamplona, Santander, San Sebastian, Guernika, Biarritz (France), Comillas, Picos de Europa

FRANCE: Bordeaux, Bayonne, Anglet, San Sebastian (Spain), St. Jean de Luz, Pyrenees Mountains

COSTA RICA: Liberia, Cloud Forest, Puntarenas, Rincon de la Vieja, Tamarindo Beach

ITALY: Florence, Orvieto, San Gimignano, San Vincezo, Castiglione della Pescaia

Our Screening & Selection Process

Students live with roommates in a local homestay or student residence that is experienced in hosting foreign students. SPI has worked with most participating homestays and student residences for a number of years, and they understand students are there to learn the language and experience the culture. SPI diligently screens each homestay and student residence facility with the following in mind: safety, location, cleanliness, and previous experience hosting students.

HOMESTAY EXPECTATIONS

Most homestays have hosted students for many years and take their jobs and duties as cultural ambassadors very seriously. Our foreign schools also work with each family on a year-round basis to ensure a positive experience is had by each student. It is critical to understand that most homestays come from humble means and different dynamics.

Location of Housing

All housing options are located within a 10-30 minute commute from the school. Students will walk or take the local bus, which is a safe and normal way for students their age to get around in our host cities. The majority of our housing options are located in the same areas where students will be close to each other.

Evening Curfews

Student curfews are set based on what a culturally appropriate weekday and weekend curfew would be for teenagers in the country of study. This is normally between 10 PM – 11 PM on weekdays and a little later on the weekends depending on location and group dynamic. As an important safety measure, program staff diligently monitor student curfews. Specific curfews are listed on each program page for your reference. 

Typical Housing Dynamics

Students are well supported in all housing options and are provided with: meals, a living and study space, laundry service or facilities, linens and towels. It is fundamental that students have an open mind to trying new foods and living in an environment different than “home” to benefit from this transformative experience!

HOMESTAY EXPECTATIONS
Although SPI homestays come in all shapes and sizes, the majority are older couples or single/widowed women in their 50s – 60s who have extra room in their home and are eager to host students. We have found this dynamic provides the best support, the most interaction, and the most culturally rich experience. Some homestays do have children, but students should keep in mind that homestays with children are busier and often offer less interaction — much like a busy American family.

Language Course Overview

The language courses focus on developing communication skills by simulating real-life situations through interactive class activities that include writing, oral expression, film, music, food, and literature.

> 2 Hours – Grammatical Concepts

> 1-2 Hours – Conversation, Culture, Literature, Film, etc.

> Small class sizes with levels 1 through AP/IB

College Credit Opportunity

SPI uses foreign universities and accredited language institutes for coursework abroad. These institutions provide high school students, upon successful completion of their courses, with an official transcript that they may use to petition college credit from their future university or college. Official transcripts are first sent to SPI in September, and then we will mail an official copy of the transcript in a sealed envelope to each participant. You will mail the official transcript packet directly to your U.S. university once you are enrolled.

Credit Hours vs. Credit Granted

Most SPI language immersion programs give 30-80 contact hours, or classroom hours, enabling for a potential of up to 1-6 semester college credit hours by your university. Contact hours are treated differently at every school. Some schools will grant specific class credit for the hours (e.g., Spanish), although most give a general foreign language or elective credit. Normally, 15 Contact/Class Hours = 1 College Credit Hour.

IMPORTANT:  Due to the nature of college credit granting by each individual U.S. university, it is impossible for SPI to guarantee credit for any student.