“This is my first time traveling outside the United States, and I have loved my experience with LPI. The flight to Costa Rica was smooth and easy and only 6 hours. Our host families are some of the nicest people I have ever met, and if you are worried about food, don’t worry they will feed you as much as you want! But, they are completely open and understanding of all your needs and they go out of their way to accommodate them. The school is very nice and very relaxed and classes are always fun! We learn so much about Costa Rican culture and it’s so great to be living and experiencing it every day. The weather in Costa Rica is beautiful and sunny. I love it! After school every day there is a fun activity planned after a nice lunch at the university. So far we have been to the Plaza of Heredia, the church, IMBioparque, the mall in Heredia, and Monteverde. We stayed in a very nice hotel with amazing food, and ate a nice dinner in the hotel. We also went on a night tour and saw awesome bugs and animals that we wouldn’t have seen during the day. The next morning we hiked through the mountains of Monteverde and had an amazing time!! I can’t wait to go to the beach this weekend in Tamarindo!!”Meagan
“When I first arrived in Costa Rica, I was ridiculously worried about meeting my family. I expected it to be extremely awkward, and couldn’t wrap my head around living in someone else’s house. After a week doing just that, I can say that for me living there has felt fine, but being with the family I think will always be a bit weird. For me, it feels more like I’m living on my own than living with my family, but this might be my own doing, as I usually end up in my room fairly quickly. It feels like a good stepping stone towards what it will feel like living on my own in a few years. In addition to the experience of living away from home, I’ve had a lot of meaningful conversations in Spanish, which were very exciting experiences. It’s kind of odd when you want to say something and the first words you find in your head aren’t in your first language; it feels like progress. I miss all of my friends from home, but this is quite an experience.”
“After a long day, we arrived in Heredia, Costa on Tuesday, January 8. We had a brief meeting at La Universidad Latina before being dropped off at the houses of our familias Ticas. We were all extremely anxious, but our families are very nice and have made us feel right at home. We spent the next day on a tour of Heredia and San Jose that included a visit to Heredia’s church located in the middle of their central park, a local market, and the children’s museum. On Thursday, we finally started our Spanish classes at La Universidad Latina, which have been focusing on basic grammar concepts and the culture of Costa Rica. Every afternoon, our group does fun activities together such as traditional Costa Rican cooking classes, walking around the local mall, and visiting a beautiful place called INBioparque. At our cooking class, we worked hard for around two hours and were rewarded with a delicious meal of arroz con pollo, refried beans, guacamole, plátanos maduros, agua de sapo, and tres leches. The local mall is extremely nice, with lots of clothing stores, a book store, a movie theater, and lots of yummy food shops. INBioparque was also a great experience. We got to walk through many of the different types of forests and climates, and we saw lots of beautiful birds, snakes, insects, and butterflies. That being said, INBioparque was nothing compared to what we experienced this past weekend in Monteverde, Costa Rica. After a day of blown tires and buses that would not start, we finally arrived at our beautiful hotel. We ate a nice dinner and then got ready to go on a night hike. On the night hike, our group saw two owls and lots of insects, including an extremely rare walking stick bug that was disguised as moss. The next day, we woke up pretty early, ate breakfast, and drove to the Bosque Nuboso. There, we went on another hike. The nature and the view were unbelievably beautiful. We were lucky enough to see an extremely colorful bird, called a quetzal, which does not happen very often. We returned to Heredia later that day, and we are now getting back into our normal routine of morning classes and afternoon activities. My experience so far has been unbelievable!”
“Arriving in Costa Rica the first thing we did after our orientation meeting was get dropped off at our host families, a bus ride on which everyone was both excited and very nervous. My family consists of my host mother and her mother. They were both so welcoming and ready to stuff me with all the rice and beans I could eat. Each meal I am given about 4 times the amount of food that I can actually eat and it is all delicious. My family is eager to learn more about me and talk to me about their country and their lives. We have visited the Children’s Museum in San José, INBio Park, where we saw a sloth, deer, snakes and tarantulas, and a market in Heredia where we saw all sorts of various cow and pig parts. In class at the Universidad Latina we have been studying Costa Rican culture in the form of local saying and proverbs in the morning and grammar in the afternoon. My favorite so far has been our weekend trip to Monteverde, even though our bus broke down on the way there, with the ultra comfortable hotel beds and our hike through the cloud forest. Seeing the rare quetzal bird in the wild has been one of the highlights of the trip so far for me. We will be spending this weekend at the beach in Tamarindo, which I am also very excited for.”
“My experience in Costa Rica so far has been absolutely amazing! I have been learning so much while having a great time. When I first met my host family I was extremely nervous, but they were so welcoming! They are really nice and they make me feel at home. If I have any problems they immediately find a way to help me in any way that they can and they always start conversation so that I can practice my Spanish! We have also been attending school at the University Latina. Our teacher is so nice and tries her best to make our experience as fun as possible. Last Friday we played Spanish songs during our culture lesson and she taught us Spanish dancing! Everyday after school we go to a different place around the city! On Thursday we had a cooking class and made a traditional Costa Rican dinner, and on Friday we went to the Inbio park to see different types of plants and animals! This weekend we all went to Monteverde. On the way there we stopped by a fruit stand on the side of the road to get snacks and the mango I got was the best mango I have ever eaten! Monteverde was absolutely breathtaking. When we got to our hotel, we all had dinner and after that we went on a night tour in the forest. The tour was very interesting! During the tour, we say an insect called the “moss walking stick”. Our tour guide told us that only one in a million groups get to see this bug because it is very hard to spot, and that buyers will pay up to $10,000 to get their hands on this species of insect. The next day we went on a tour in the forest during the day. The forest during the day is absolutely beautiful. We saw many types of birds and plants. Our tour guide had a telescope, and was able to zoom in on two very beautiful, multicolored birds! After the tour we checked out of the hotel and drove back to our families in Heredia. I am very excited for this weekend where we will be traveling to Tamarindo.”
“My Lpi experience began after the warm welcome by the local Lpi workers. After a short orientation we were dropped off at our house. Each of the Costa Rican mamaticas were very happy to see us. As nervous as we were to meet them the anxiety melted after a welcoming hug. After the first day with my family I began to become more comfortable and talkative. Also there was never a worry of being hungry or any problem without it being almost immediately fixed. The mamaticas are extremely caring and can handle anything. The university where we got to school is also very nice and a fun environment to study. From 8-12 we have classes of culture and grammar with one of the best teachers I have ever had. Lunch everyday is a verity of delicious Costa Rican foods. With exciting activities after school include things such as cooking classes, Inbio park, children’s muesem, city tours and dance classes. The weekend excursion to Monte Verde was quite an experience with tours at night and day of the wonderful cloud forest. All in all my Lpi experience has been great with adventures and knowledge at every turn.”
“My experience in Costa Rica has been amazing so far. We’ve been here for just one week, but have done so much in that short time from touring the beautiful jungle of Monteverde, to cooking a traditional Costa Rican meal, to visiting a local market, and much more.
Upon arriving we met the families that we would be living with throughout our stay here. Mine was so kind and welcoming that I immediately felt right at home. Although the language barrier makes it difficult to communicate sometimes, I can tell that it’s really helping me to become more comfortable using the language casually and conversationally.
We also take four hours of Spanish class at the local college every day to help us improve with the language. This class is much more relaxed than what we are used to at our school at home, but just listening to lectures in Spanish and conversing for four hours straight in a foreign language really helps!
We just returned from our first excursion to Monteverde yesterday and it was a blast! We went on a hike through the rainforest and saw countless insects, birds, and plants that we will never have the chance to see anywhere else. We had less time than expected at our destination, however, because our bus broke down on our way there. Luckily we were stopped at a market when it happened so we had plenty to do and eat while we waited! We even made friends with the locals.
I’ve made great memories so far and know there are many more to come! Costa Rica is beautiful, and there is so much to learn and experience here. I’m so glad I decided to take this trip! ¡Pura vida!”
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Además de surf, un grupo de nosotros fuimos a dar un paseo en un barco de vela. En el barco, había estudiantes LPI (acompañado por Iván y Ania), los estudiantes de ISA, y un montón de otras personas. La vista desde el catamarán fue espectacular, especialmente al atardecer. Existía la posibilidad de saltar del barco y nadar un poco. Algunas personas nadaron hasta la orilla y de vuelta, pero yo prefería estar cerca del barco. Cuando nos montamos en el barco de nuevo, no había pollo, patatas fritas, salsa, guacamole, las cookies, y mucho más establecido. El costo del alcohol estaba incluido, pero, por supuesto, nos limitamos a los jugos y refrescos mientras observa el resto del barco gire un poco borracho. La comida era buena y la compañía era muy divertido. En general, el viaje en catamarán definitivamente valió la pena. ¡Incluso me tocó un pulpo!
Para nuestra última cena juntos como un verdadero grupo completo, (algo que llamamos “one big una familia”), comimos en un restaurante por el camino del hotel. Es triste tener que decir adiós a nuestros nuevos amigos. Esperamos volver a verlos pronto. el domingo, nos quedamos a cabo por la playa y en las piscinas antes de montar en el autobús todo el camino de regreso a Heredia.
Por Christine Lavosky y Emma Hewett
This past weekend our group got the opportunity to travel to Granada for Saturday and Sunday. Though it was unbearably hot, the history and beauty of the city was incredible and the trip was well worth it. Our hotel was virtually right in the middle of the city, so it was very easy to get to everywhere we needed to go. The first day, we enjoyed some free time up until our SORPRESA (that’s surprise in Spanish), which happened to include a breathtaking view of the city as well as a performance of Flamenco dancers, as Mollie has written about. The next day we visited the Alhambra, one of the most visited tourist attractions in all of Spain. To our surprise, we were some of the first visitors to view the Patio de Doce Leones, which is a patio with a fountain that contains 12 lions on it. 3 hours of walking definitely wore us out, however, so we took advantage of the bus ride back to Málaga for sleeping purposes. Despite the heat and excessive walking, it was a trip I’ll never forget.
Webster Schroeder High School
On Saturday evening our small group of six, plus Iker, were taken to a surprise visit to a small restaurant featuring Flamenco dancers! At first, Iker told us our surprise was walking all the way up an endless hill to an amazing panoramic view of the Alhambra while we were all dying of heat!! Very fortunately, we were brought to a small, cool restaurant and given soda so we all didn’t pass out of the heat. We sat for an hour while watching two amazing group of Flamenco dancer’s show off their talent. We saw girls as well as two men display the traditional Spanish dance. To our surprise, the dancers were extremely strong and surprisingly passionate. The dancers wore shoes similar to those of tap dancers so each step was loud, deliberate, passionate and purposeful. Their outfits were extremely traditional; skirts had ruffles, shoes had small heels, the short sleeves had ruffles as well and both men were dressed up in a suit. The men and women who were apart of the show but not dancing at the moment clapped loudly and sang along with the lively strums of the guitar. After about an hour, the dancing was over and we walked home (thank god it was about 15 degrees cooler at night!). Overall, I can safely say that the six of us highly enjoyed experiencing the authentic traditions of Spain.
Wellesley High School
South Pasadena High School
South Pasadena, CA
Wellesley High School
Noble and Greenough School
My first week in Malaga was really fun. It was really nice to settle down and fully enjoy the city, as well as explore and discover cool places to go and see. We also got to get to know our host families, which was really exciting and fun. In addition to that we began classes at the UMA, and although speaking Spanish all the time is not exactly a piece of cake, it is so wonderful to practice and learn new Spanish. Lastly, we have gotten to relax at the Beautiful beaches and shop around in the center of town, which has been exciting and fun. Overall, we had a great first week in Malaga and can’t wait to enjoy the city even more!
Head Royce School
I guess you can say hiking is not exactly my forte but there was no getting my way out of this one! I tried to make the best of it…trust me. We all went to the Alpujarra mountains located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada and around the Mediterranean. The bus ride up there was terrifying! It was as if we were on a boat but twirling up mountains. I just love looking out the window and feeling like I’m on the edge of a cliff. Once we FINALLY got to the village, we began our hike. I didn’t think it was going to be that hard but man was I wrong! Every step I took I thought I was going to slip and fall but Nacho promised me I was not going to die. Although, he could not promise me that unless I was strapped onto a harness. We were probably hiking for about 2-3 hours until we had a picnic on a look out ledge. It was so beautiful and the wind was just lovely. That was definitely my favorite part , maybe because I got the chance to take a nap.
Once everyone was done with their lunch, we started heading to the second village. If the tour guide didn’t walk like a Ferrari and take us through muddy puddles , I would tell you he’s my favorite person in the world. He taught us how the waterfalls worked, how they supplied the villages and what was used to make their homes sturdy. The things he showed us was pretty interesting, like the different trees and plants, but what he didn’t show me was the way to the bathroom. Hiking for almost five hours while needing to use the bathroom is much harder than you think. Especially when your walking up and down edges of mountains…which just makes me want to go even more! But besides the fact that I was out of breath, every plant attacked me, and it was the time of month for all the girls (keep in mind the only bathroom in sight were trees)…the view at the top is just unbelievable. Its something everyone cannot miss out on and the adventure up there is breath-taking. Pun intended.
Lake Titicaca was well worth the bus ride- 6 hours total. As the bus winded through the Andes mountain range, fields where one could see farmers tending to their cattle, and little, cobblestone road towns, we pondered how the lake and the surrounding city would be like. Would there be electricity? Would the food be good? And most importantly, how can people live on these distinguished floating islands? We were interested to say the least. We arrived at the Lake Titicaca and were immediately met with a dazzling view of the lake’s crystal clear water partnered with the Andes Mountains nestled in the background.
We took a boat to one of the floating islands for a tour. Once we stepped off the boat and onto the reeds, we immediately noticed how hard it was to walk around. We learned how the floating islands are made and how, if the anchors uprooted, the natives wrangle them back in place using ropes. We also met the president of the island. Apparently, each floating island has its own president who makes decisions on behalf of the entire island. We also heard that even the reeds used to construct the island are edible – and actually delicious!
Later, we stayed at a house belonging to an actual family on the island. They were very welcoming and made us feel right at home. We noticed there was no electricity but it added to the charm of the island. That night, having no electricity in the town, one could see the thousands of twinkling stars in the sky. We had lunch in their kitchen and the food was delicious- potatoes and cheese. In the kitchen was a large fire oven where they did all their cooking- much different than the United States. That night, the town hosted a party in which all the guests were dressed in traditional Andean garb. We danced around a bonfire to the beats of a band playing there. It was a night and an experience one could never forget.
Saint Agnes Academy