Studying abroad brings life experiences, fun

“I went abroad to better my Spanish, to learn it in a more authentic setting and experience a culture first hand, not learn it from a book” explained Brandon Morfoot.

Brandon Morfoot is a third-year student at McDaniel College. He studied abroad in San Pedro, San Jose, Costa Rica from December 2011 through January 2012.

Brandon decided he wanted to go to a foreign country when he started to study Spanish in college. His fist choice was Costa Rica because it looked like a beautiful and comfortable country to learn his favorite language — Spanish.

It was his first time out of the country and he said with excitement that it was the best experience of his life because he experienced a lot of things that he will never experience in the United States. At first, it was a culture shock, but the trip gave him new perspectives and it also motivated him to travel more in life.

During his stay in Costa Rica, he was with two different families and he spent two weeks with each of them. He said that Costa Ricans valued family time.

“They did everything together, watch TV together, had dinner together, and family events together” he stated.

According to Brandon, living with a family also helped him learn more Spanish because he did not have any choice but to speak the native language since they did not speak any English.

He said that during the time in Costa Rica, he got up at 6:30am to have breakfast, then walked to school or took the bus depending on where he was going. School started at 8:00am. Brandon studied in ILISA Instituto de Idiomas or the Institute of Languages ILISA. After school, he went out with friends to explore the city and the market.

On the weekends, they planned trips around the country. Some places that Brandon visited were El Volcan Arenal, in La Fortuna, Punta Leona Resort in Punta Leona, and the San Pedro Mall, where young people go to hang out with friends, he explained.

Before Brandon went to Costa Rica, he was scared because he did not know anybody and because he was not going to be able to communicate with his family. His parents were also concerned about the communication issue; they had never been outside of the country either. He calls them “unworldly people” because they do not like to travel.

Brandon’s parents supported his decision of going to Costa Rica because they knew that he needed the trip for his career and the communication issued was solved because they had internet access in Costa Rica, said Brandon.

Another issued that concerned his parents was the level of crime in the country. According to Brandon, he felt completely safe, even though theft is a huge problem in the country.  People cannot carry their backpacks on their backs, it has to be in the front and the same with wallets, but he never had issues with that.

Brandon Morfoot encourages people to study abroad.

“I think that the fact that I probably learned more Spanish in Costa Rica than in 7 years living here, makes it worth doing and I met really good friends from around the world.”