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EF Stories: Tamar from the Netherlands at EF Costa Rica

Tamar took a Spanish language course in Costa Rica during her gap year, where she had the time of her life!
EF Stories: Tamar from the Netherlands at EF Costa Rica

After a few months of hesitation, I made the decision: I was going to take a gap year and study abroad! The Spanish language really attracted me, and what could be more fun than learning to speak a new language in a warm country, and not in Spain, but somewhere on the other side of the world. So... Costa Rica it was! And in retrospect, this turned out to be a very good choice indeed.

There I went...

Arriving in Tamarindo, I was still a little nervous. I didn't speak the language, didn't know anyone and was now really on my own. Fortunately, everything turned out fine! I had chosen an intensive course which meant that I had about 30 hours of lessons per week and plenty of free time remaining. All classes were taught in Spanish but were very easy to follow, even though in the beginning I only knew the words 'si' and 'no'. The classes were very varied and were taught in a fun way. This way, after 5 months in Costa Rica, I was able to have conversations in Spanish quite easily and finished in level B1.2.

Not only did I learn to speak Spanish, I also learned about Costa Rican culture. Through the Costa Rican teachers, we learned about traditions, cuisine, celebrations, certain Costa Rican words and more. There were also some Spanish teachers and from them we then learned more about Spanish culture.

My accommodation

At EF there are 3 different places for students to stay. In a host family; they actually live in a village further away called 'Villareal' or 'Santa Rosa' and come to campus every day in the EF van. You can also stay in a residence near the school or on campus at the school like me. I shared an apartment with 4 other girls, 2 of whom slept in the same room as me and 2 in the other room. It takes some getting used to but it's a lot of fun. It also allows you to get different roommates each time and make friends with people from countries all over the world.

What was very nice about EF Costa Rica is that it is quite small in size. There are no large numbers of students and therefore you know almost everyone walking around the school. It gives a very nice atmosphere where everybody can have a chat with each other and nobody has to feel alone. This way it is very easy to make friends and you will find that you become really close with some people. Especially the group that started on the same date as me and would also stay for 5 months or more, they even felt a bit like family after 5 months.

Because I stayed on campus, I only had to take a few steps to the pool or classrooms, and downtown Tamarindo and the beach were also within walking distance. Tamarindo is quite touristy and a lot of people come there to surf. There are many restaurants, many bars and, of course, many surf stores. So renting a board is not that difficult and a surf lesson is also pretty easy to arrange. There are especially many tourists from America and Canada but Costa Rica is also a popular destination for Argentines. Besides the tourists there are of course a lot of EF students in Tamarindo. Because Tamarindo is not that big you will always run into some people when you are in town. Many EF students in Costa Rica came from Europe and some from other parts of the world. So not only can you improve your Spanish, you can also improve your English!

Free time

And well ... there is a party to be found every now and then: Ladies night, reggae night, karaoke, there's a party somewhere every day. At the beginning of the evening we often gathered with a large group of students in a regular bar where you could play pool and ping-pong, for example, that's how we started our fun evening. But this really wasn't just partying though, it was obviously an ideal way to improve your Spanish. You could practice your Spanish by talking to locals or ordering your drink in Spanish, for example ; )

Other than that, Costa Rica is a very nice and safe country. The nature is beautiful! There is a lot of greenery and the beaches are also very beautiful. In Costa Rica there are a lot of national parks where you can admire plants and animals and often there are also volcanoes to spot and beautiful waterfalls. Every weekend, EF organizes a trip somewhere. These can be trips in Costa Rica itself of 2 or 3 days or they can be trips to Nicaragua or Panama. The trips are well organized, you don't have to think about it and it is very nice to go with people from EF. But of course you can also go on your own! I did the trip to Panama and the trip to Nicaragua with EF. That way I visited 3 countries in 5 months. And it was great fun! I visited beautiful islands with light blue sparkling water in Bocas del Toro in Panama and in Nicaragua I went down the volcano on a sledge!

Experience abroad: highly recommended!

I definitely fell in love with Costa Rica! Not only because it is a beautiful country but also because the people are incredibly kind and hospitable. There is also a very different, nice and relaxed atmosphere. I will never forget my 5 months in Costa Rica. I had a great time, I learned to speak Spanish, I enjoyed myself and I met a lot of nice people! Now I not only want to go back to Costa Rica, but I want to visit many more countries to see all my EF friends again. So Costa Rica is really highly recommended but I think any experience abroad is an enrichment for yourself and EF can help you with that!

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