Language School help

Old Mar 22nd, 2007, 02:38 PM
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Language School help

I am currently looking for the "right" Spanish school in Costa Rica for my college age daughter and myself. I have narrowed it down to three: Intercultura, Instituto Guanacasteco, and CPI. Does anyone have experience with these (or others)?

Also - they are at different locations and I am unsure which location(s) would be best.
A) campuses in Heredia and Samara
B) campuses in Nicoya and Samara
C) campuses in Heredia, Monteverde and Flamingo
We would stay a week or more at each location.

Help, please!
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Old Mar 22nd, 2007, 04:48 PM
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Definitely I would recommend CPI. I have 3 years experience with it (one year for me, 2 for my daughter who earned her minor in Spanish there). Going back in June for 3 more weeks. It is an excellent school. Haven't done the Monteverde locations, but Heredia and Flamingo are both good. Especially like Heredia--I think the best learning takes place there. I'd suggest at least 2 weeks each location.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2007, 07:56 AM
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Thanks Shillmac -

I also thought that Heredia would be great. We wanted a school where we could change campuses every couple of weeks. My only concern with the Flamingo location was that I thought it might be too "Americanized" and touristy. Your thoughts?

Did you do a homestay? Liked it?
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Old Mar 23rd, 2007, 08:16 AM
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I did homestays with CPI when I studied with them a few years ago. I really enjoyed it. My favorite family was in Potrero. My favorite teacher was up in Monteverde. I am not a city person so the Heredia campus was probably my least favorite although I did enjoy my 20 min walk to the campus every day. Often saw rainbows and I enjoyed watching the soccer games. I also enjoyed just sitting on some benches where I got to meet some very nice people. One man had worked for the consulate in DC for several years. The Flamingo campus was still in the works and it was so hot that I had trouble concentrating and by the end of the week was pretty sick because of it. I did enjoy doing my homework on the beach which is very pretty there. They now have finished the work and even have a pool which was just a hole when I was there. The road between Potrero and Flamingo has monkeys and some nice birds.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2007, 08:54 AM
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Hi Suzie -

Thanks for your comments. What time of year were you there? Was is unbearably hot only in Flamingo? Did you do a homestay there with no A/C?
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Old Mar 23rd, 2007, 09:52 AM
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The nights cooled down nicely. I am sure the school is better now. We had to have the doors closed because of the construction and there was no real air circulation so it was pretty miserable in the afternoon classes. I was there in Jan-Feb.
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Old Mar 26th, 2007, 07:23 AM
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Hi-
Just got back from CR late last night; we were there for two weeks and the first week was at CPI Heredia. I can't recommend CPI strongly enough. The staff, the teacher, the fellow students, the beautiful building in San Joaquin, the homestay, and the tour help (from the school) all exceeded my expectations. We only studied for one week, so I haven't seen the other campuses, but I picked CPI based on a recommendation from a distant cousin who spent time at Monteverde.

I'm happy to answer any questions if you're thinking about Heredia for part of the time, or to just share my thoughts in general.

Good luck and have fun!
Melissa
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Old Mar 26th, 2007, 09:50 AM
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I studied at Intercultura Heredia 2 years ago for a week and had an outstanding education. From an educational standpoint it was probably the highest quality Spanish school I have attended. I really liked the town-plenty to do. I lived about a 20 minute walk from school with a very nice family. Have a friend that attended Samara for a week and really liked it. Have heard many good things about CPI as well. I don't know anything about IG
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Old Mar 26th, 2007, 07:30 PM
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I selected the Flamingo campus and San Joaquin (Heredia) back in 2003--late June through mid-July, 3 weeks.

Flamingo was fun, the school was completed and very nice, and I've visited that same area every year since (sometimes more than once). Yes, it is Americanized, but Playa Flamingo has one of the prettiest beaches in CR with fabulous sunsets. We are fond of it because of many nice memories attached to that general area.
We like the Flamingo Beach Resort and are staying there 3 nights this coming July. For $79 per night, it is an excellent value. . . .

For a more local experience we spend time in Potrero (although the development in that area has definitely done a lot to dampen the local experience feel). Unfortunately.

You can still go to Playa Penca (or further north near Playa Hermosa to Playa Panama) and enjoy your beach time with much less of a "foreign" presence (except you, of course!).

Flamingo is, of course, a beach location and therefore hot year round. Less so in the rainy season, but not a lot of difference since that area doesn't get so much rain anyway.
The drawback to the Flamingo campus (at least to me) was that it is more popular among the younger party set. More emphasis on fun, less on study. But with a beach location, that didn't surprise me. Classes were still good. Comparing it to the Heredia location, however, I felt the better instruction was in Heredia.

Both locations attracted all ages--young singles, couples, older singles, families. Everyone seemed to be able to "bond" and enjoy hanging out with a compatible group. I was 49 that year, and my classmates were Terry, a woman about my age from California; Jessica, a college girl from California; and Matt, a Japanese-American preparing to enter grad school at Yale. We still stay in touch (loosely). I helped host Jessica on a mission trip to Ethiopia the next year and received an invitation to Matt's wedding in Hawaii. Terry and I (both teachers) have stayed in touch as well and even met up another year when she was living with a family in Grecia and attending another school with a group of students she was sponsoring.

It's that kind of atmosphere. The strain of learning a new language (and it is exhausting) tends to form quick bonds between the burdened! I can remember befriending a young girl (17 years) who was there alone, brave soul, braver parents! By the same token , when our daughter attended CPI the next year, one of her best friends was a lady about my age from New Zealand. They still e-mail one another occasionally. Can you get a feel for that kind of experience? It was great!

We loved the homestay and would select that everytime. I chose to stay in a small hotel while in Flamingo, but only because, after 2 weeks of having studied and living in a homestay in Heredia, I was ready for some alone time. That is typical of me. . .

Our daughter did the same--stayed with the same family in Heredia (we are, by this time, close friends), but stayed at Cabinas Isolina in Flamingo (a good choice, nice little hotel on the beach in Potrero).

Hope this helps a wee bit. . .
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Old Mar 27th, 2007, 07:29 AM
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Thanks Shillmac. This is great info. I am still kind of torn now between Flamingo and Samara for my "beach week." Maybe I will flip a coin!
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