While the rest of us endured the cold and damp months of winter in Ohio, some MVNU students were basking in the warm weather of San Jose, Costa Rica.
The 19 students are spending spring semester studying abroad at the Spanish Language Institute in San Francisco de Dos Rios.
The students, who represent five different majors, are taking language classes in the morning, attending chapel twice a week, helping with a variety of ministry projects, and exploring the beauty of Costa Rica until the beginning of April.
A total of 100 students from around the world have traveled to San Francisco de Dos Rios to study the language and immerse themselves in a completely different culture. The students are housed with local host families that know little English.
“As an intercultural studies major, you are going out into the world and seeing how things actually work in the real world,” Professor Matt Price said. “It’s kind of like a laboratory.”
Students take classes in Grammar, Conversation and Practical Ministry. They are also given the
opportunity to shadow teachers.
“It’s really great for a group of students to be able to go out into the real world and to work with a group unlike themselves,” Price said.
The students will travel to Nicaragua for a spring break mission trip. While there, students will work with a local church to lead a Vacation Bible School, continue to learn Spanish and explore lakes in southern Nicaragua. Students were advised to avoid phone calls home for the first month.
“Phone calls home and any contact with the U.S. will make the transition a lot more difficult than it already is,” Price said.
Students said the idea of living so far from home took some getting used to. “The most challenging part has been the culture shock,” junior Chris Sommers said. “It’s impossible to entirely describe the feeling of being 2,000 miles away from home in a culture that is completely different than what you’re used to.”
Sommers and his classmates have also spent part of their semester working in local orphanages.
“It’s incredible being able to work and have fun with kids even though I can’t speak a lot of Spanish,” he said. “These kids are willing to play and spend time with anyone who will give them attention.”
The group of students will return to the states on April 8 and spend the first five days debriefing and reacclimating to the United States.