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CPI Spanish Language School - great teachers but ...

Rockville, Maryland
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CPI Spanish Language School - great teachers but ...

I am currently in Costa Rica having completed a few weeks of language classes with CPI. I came with my family and spent time at two of their campuses plus went to the family camp in Tierra Magnifica. If you want to learn Spanish, I cannot imagine a better way to learn the language then a few weeks with CPI in a homestay. The teachers were very good for all of us and I learned more Spanish then I remember from two years of college Spanish. The immersion experience was a great way to learn how to converse with others in Spanish. I wanted my children to get some basics and they are now conjugating verbs in both present and future tense. I am impressed.

However, the housing can either be great or difficult. Our 'homestay' in Flamingo was actually in a small hotel. We had breakfast and dinner with our 'mama tica' and she tired to help improve our language skills. She was also very concerned when that the kids had food they wanted to eat. However, the lack of hot water and air conditioning was tough for a man of a certain age. My kids did not complain until there was heavy rain which washed out the water line to the hotel. Our last two nights we had NO WATER. This means no showers, no toothbrushing and no toilet! I mentioned this to CPI who did not appear concerned. Since it was the last two nights, we just let it go. I knew a homestay could have problems but this was much worse then almost anywhere I have stayed before.

On the other hand, the apartment in Monteverde was great. Two bedrooms, a kitchen and two bathrooms were perfect for the family. We had water and electricity almost all the time and the wifi was pretty consistent too. (The wifi and electricity were not always available but CPI helped fix the problems as soon as they occurred.) The apartment was cleaned daily and they included free, good coffee.

Overall, I highly recommend CPI as a school. However, the housing can be great or difficult. A homestay is probably the best way to get a true immersion experience. However, ours was not something I would ever repeat. It may be ideal for a college student or the truly committed language student. I would not recommend it for anyone who likes to have hot and cold water on a regular basis.

Puerto Jimenez...
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1. Re: CPI Spanish Language School - great teachers but ...

To put this into perspective, it's important to realize that not only does the heavy rain impact tourists, but it impacts the lives of Costa Rican's who must live with power outages and water line breaks when heavy rains come.

If your concerned about this, best to visit Costa Rica in the dry season. This is a country wide problem based on the weather and infrastructure, not so much about any company or service provider. I think it's important to separate the two.

Pura Vida,

Ballardo

Playa Conchal...
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2. Re: CPI Spanish Language School - great teachers but ...

Interesting post - I'm not sure if a certain standard of accommodation is guaranteed by CPI, but a "homestay" in a developing country suggests that there may be issues as you encountered. As the above post mentions, its often eye-opening to see how local people live without things we tend to take for granted in our home countries.

Costa Rica
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3. Re: CPI Spanish Language School - great teachers but ...

Most of us who live in Costa Rica are used to the occasional power outage (I have candles) or some problem with the water system so that you don't have water for 1/2 an hour to all day to two days. It's just a part of life here.

Many hotels have their own water tanks so they have an uninterrupted supply for their customers. Some private homes have water tanks and many farms do.

I keep 12 liters of water (two 6-liter bottles) at all times plus those smaller water bottles in the refrigerator. If the water goes off, I use the water bottles sparingly, washing myself and a few dishes and using the rest for drinking or cooking. I reclaim the gray water from these activities and use it to flush the toilet.

OK - you don't have a shower for two days but big deal. You can go to the grocery store and get a couple of 6-liter bottles of water and make do.

As others have said, this is how most Costa Ricans live so if you are wanting a "homestay" then you should be prepared for it. This can be part and parcel of a homestay.

As for the shower -- once you learn to regulate the water flow properly, you can get a good water flow and a hot shower. It just takes some getting used to - but it is imminently practical and inexpensive to use.

Seattle, Washington
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for Seattle
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4. Re: CPI Spanish Language School - great teachers but ...

Sounds you got the full CR experience during your stay. I too have spent a month in a central valley Spanish School. The family I stayed with was very lovely, warm and inviting. The showers were not as equally friendly. The father had jerry rigged the instant hot water showers, so that there was electrical tape covering the wires. You could only run the water 1 or 2 minutes before it started to smoke (bad burning plastic smell). Rinse, turn off water, lather, turn on water, rinse (repeat?).

I have a friend who is a dentist in Guanacaste. More than once the municipalidad has turned off the city water with no warning. Obviously you can't work on patients without water in a dentists' office, so that day is a total loss & you have to reschedule everyone.

More than anything I learned that you have to 'roll with the punches' in CR. It certainly makes for interesting travel and teaches you to relax and improvise. Mother nature is unpredictable, but the warmth and generosity of the ticos I have met more than makes up for any bumps in the road.

Costa Rica
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5. Re: CPI Spanish Language School - great teachers but ...

sodomojo - while I have to agree with you, I do think your dentist friend in Guanacaste should get a water tank for his office. I am sure the cost of purchasing and installing a tank will be less than losing one whole day's income from a full schedule of patients!

guanacaste
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6. Re: CPI Spanish Language School - great teachers but ...

CPI is a great traditional spanish institute. Very serious. I am sure that what happened in Flamingo is out of the ordinary.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama
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7. Re: CPI Spanish Language School - great teachers but ...

Thanks so much for the posts. This really helped me decide on which school to use in Costa Rica. I'm taking some high school students in 2013, so I need to make sure that all is safe and that the school is reputable and productive. Inconveniences like temporary lack of water is a pain, yes, but it's a lesson in and of itself for US students who DO take so much for granted. It seems to be an excellent experience overall. Thanks again!

Monterey, California
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8. Re: CPI Spanish Language School - great teachers but ...

Are you still taking the group in 2013?

Edited: 08 March 2013, 17:31
Edwards, Colorado
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9. Re: CPI Spanish Language School - great teachers but ...

Thank you for your comments regarding your home stay at CPI Flamingo. The experience that you had is not typical of the majority of students who study with CPI and enjoy their home stay very much. While the conditions certainly are not equal to a middle class US home, most students find the accommodations to be clean, comfortable and appropriate to experience a cultural immersion. In the rare case where a student is not comfortable in their accommodations, CPI will make every effort to place that student into a different home stay. Of course, the student must inform CPI of any such issues so that we have the opportunity to solve the issues. I hope that you will come again to CPI and please let us know if you have any issues so that we can correct the problem immediately. I'm happy to hear that by and large, you had a positive experience at CPI. SIncerely, Terence Thurston, CPI Admissions Representative, Edwards, CO

San Jose, Costa Rica
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10. Re: CPI Spanish Language School - great teachers but ...

Thank you nice report...yes most costaricans houses even at the beach side ...we do not have a-c...sorrry!

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