Name: Dominic Yanke

Location: Heredia, Costa Rica

Me in scrubs

Staff and I at the Christmas Party


My internship was on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3-7pm at Dra. Franco’s medical clinic. I took vital signs/patient histories, assisted with minor medical treatments such as wound cleaning and ulcer treatments, brought the requested medicines and checked expiration dates, and helped with various other tasks. The staff and I volunteered at a community health fair, and we also had a Christmas Party with a secret Santa gift exchange. Everyone was sad when my internship ended.

Staff and I at the Health Fair


I took Tropical Ecology and Introduction to Translation at Universidad Veritas. Tropical Ecology was centered around field trips. One field trip was to La Selva Biological Research Station. The other field trip was to the botanical garden at the University of Costa Rica. During both trips, we sampled biodiversity. My group chose arthropods, and the other group chose birds. 

A colorful crab at Cahuita

At Universidad Bíblica Latinoamericana, I took a class on Indigenous and Afro-American religions. The class involved a lot of writing assignments. The final essay was the hardest part of the class because it was 10-15 pages in Spanish, not including the title page and bibliography. It also required a minimum of 10 sources for the bibliography. The class was very challenging yet rewarding because I had to read and write in Spanish on theological topics. 

I had History and Ethnology of Costa Rica with Prof. Heidi Michelsen, the VU Study Center Program Director. It focused on the history and culture of Costa Rica as well as other Central American countries. The class had two field trips; one to the Caribbean Coast and the Cahuita National Park in Limón and the other was to a small farming community populated by Salvadoran refugees that also included a visit to Manuel Antonio National Park in Puntarenas. Both parks were beautiful and had a variety of wildlife. I swam in the Pacific Ocean at Manuel Antonio Park, and Heidi and I snorkeled at the beach in Cahuita Park, on the Atlantic Ocean.   Both were amazing first-time experiences for me. 

Host Family

I had a host mom, Maritza, and a host brother, Ronaldo. My host mom gave me gigantic meal portions and I eventually had to tell her that I wanted smaller portions. They took me to the farmer’s market (Fería) with them a few times and took me shopping once. Once my host brother got a car, he was able to help drive me to school for a field trip early one morning and to the airport when I left. Overall, my host family was really nice, helpful, supportive, and they enjoyed my higher level of Spanish because we could communicate with each other easier.

“La mejor de Limón es la gente” (The best thing about Limón is the people)

Experience in General

Overall, I very much enjoyed my internship, classes, and my stay with my host family. The main challenges I faced were bus transportation and planning my classes. I recommend, if possible, choosing classes that match the train schedule so that the need to take a bus is limited.  (The train gets you there faster and has a more predictable schedule.)