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Scripps Howard Major Immersed in Costa Rican Culture

Fatima Bodrick, a Scripps Howard School junior public relations and Spanish double major from Fairfield, OH, is currently studying abroad south of the border in San Jose, Costa Rica for the Spring 2010 semester through the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS). For the last 40 years, AIFS has been one of the most respected cultural exchange organizations in the world. It maintains over 50,000 participants a year and has 24 international campus locations scattered over 17 countries in the world.

Bodrick applied to AIFS and chose to study in Costa Rica, located south of Mexico and in between Nicaragua and Panama, in order to achieve her goal of speaking fluent Spanish.

“I have developed the idea that fluency in any language and culture comes once you immerse yourself in the culture,” Bodrick said. Her immersion in the Spanish language was immediate because upon her arrival at the home of her Costa Rican host family, she discovered that none of the family members spoke any English.

This semester, Bodrick is in a group of 150 students from various schools who are taking classes at Veritas University, which was founded in 1994 by merging two state-sponsored universities. She is taking a Spanish class from 8 a.m. until noon that she says is an intensive review of grammar and vocabulary. The credits earned at Veritas are eligible for transfer to the students’ college or university of study. Internships are also available for the students within the local areas of Costa Rica. The internships are unpaid, but offer three to four school credits.

Not only has Bodrick maintained her studies and volunteer work, but she has also traveled around the country. Her group has visited Monteverde National Park, where she zip-lined on steel cables through the rainforest canopy and performed a Tarzan swing for the first time in her life.

“I am afraid of heights so this was a bit frightening for me,” she said. “[But] I forced myself to jump and face my fears. The feeling was exhilarating.”

As part of her plan to travel to other parts of Costa Rica, Bodrick has already visited La Playa de Tamarindo, a beach located on the Pacific coast, as well as the province of Puerto Viejo. She and the other students have enjoyed dinners and watched the sunset on what she describes as the most beautiful beaches in all of Costa Rica.

In between her studies and travels in the Central American country, Bodrick is also volunteering once a week with Costa Rican children and teaching them English as part of her aspirations to help and give back to the native people.

Costa Rican Dinner Costa Rican dinner

Click image to enlarge.

-Written by Justin Smith, junior public relations major