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 Memories & Comments of IHCAI Students


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This video and photos were taken using an iPhone 5 and edited with Final Cut Pro X by Bruce Bassi and uploaded to Youtube by the student. Thanks Bruce!

Commentary written by Bruce Bassi, senior medical student from University of Michigan Medical School, on April - 2014:

"I had the pleasure of spending 5 weeks with IHCAI and exploring the beautiful country of COSTA RICA. I would highly recommend this experience. This was hands down the happiest period of my fourth year in medical school; I loved it! The people are great- the teachers are excellent, you get plenty of individualized attention, and Yuri ensures that everything is going well inside and outside of class. I miss the soccer games with classmates and the IHCAI friends and family, we had such a blast. Also, there are plenty of opportunities to take a very affordable bus or airplane ride to other parts of the country for a weekend of exploration. In the video, I include footage of some of the places that were recommended to us (Manuel Antonio, Fortuna, Tamarindo, Puerto Viejo) but don't take my word for it, go see for yourself! You won't be disappointed!"

Published with the approval of the student.

Commentary written by Dave Cyr, senior medical student from McGill University, Canada, on december 13 - 2013:

"El curso de IHCAI aquí en San José, Costa Rica, fue una de las mejores experiencias de mi vida. Además de los cursos de español y de medicina tropical diarios, la oportunidad de vivir en una ciudad hisponoparlante (tan vibrante como San José), con una familia tica de verdad, fue como ninguna otra. Por otra parte pude visitar las playas hermosas y ver una naturaleza silvestre y excepcional / extraordinaria. Por todo lo que aprendí a través de eso, no se puede poner precio. PURA VIDA!"

Comment Written in Spanish by the student at IHCAI Foundation facilities in San José. Published with his approval.


Commentary written by Basile Tessier, senior medical student from McGill University, Canada, on december 13 - 2013:

"Mi experiencia en IHCAI fue inolvidable. El personal es óptimo, muy atento y profesional. Pero no solo he recibido clases de gran calidad, he aprendido sobre una nueva cultura infinitamente rica. Los viajes a través de Costa Rica fueron sorprendentes y fueron ocasiones ideales de conocer más sobre el país. Creo que Costa Rica y IHCAI ofrecen lo mejor alrededor y ocasión para se empapar en la cultura Latino Americana."

Comment Written in Spanish by the student at IHCAI Foundation facilities in San José. Published with his approval.


Commentary written by Marie-Julie Monette, senior medical student from McGill University, Canada, on december 13 - 2013:

"El tiempo pasó tan rápido! Cuatro semanas no son bastante largas para ver todo lo que hay que ver de Costa Rica! Con IHCAI hemos tenido oportunidad de aprender mucho sobre la medicina tropical, el sistema de salud y la gramática de español. También hemos tenido tiempo para viajar por el país, a los volcanes, las playas, etc. Vivir con una familia tica nos permitió aprender mucho sobre la cultura costarricense y de vivir como ticos. Fue una experiencia de vida!"

Comment Written in Spanish by the student at IHCAI Foundation facilities in San José. Published with his approval.

Commentary submitted by Jennifer L. Crowley, Pharm.D. Candidate 2014 from University of Connecticut, USA, on November 30 - 2013:

"Yuri: Muchísimas gracias por estas 4 semanas pasadas! Recordaré esta experiencia para siempre. Gracias por la ayuda cada vez que estaba perdido. Gracias por los consejos de donde debo visitar durante los fines de semana. Gracias por Tortuguero! Gracias por la mejor Mama Tica. Gracias por las "clases" de gramática. Gracias por la asignación a la Carit! Sobre todo, gracias por la oportunidad de conocerte y IHCAI. Uds. tomaron un riesgo con el primer estudiante de farmacia de UCONN y espero que tuvieran éxito! Pura Vida, JEN."

Students from McGill University -Canada- and Jennifer L. Crowley from UCONN -USA-

(in the center) on the trip to Tortuguero of IHCAI Foundation, November of 2013.

"Estoy en Costa Rica - Día Uno". Commentary posted on a blog by Justin Rieth, medical student member of the class of 2016 at Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine, on March 4, 2013:  

Medical students from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School - USA

"My Medical Spanish elective in Costa Rica was, hands down, the best experience I had in all four years of medical school. There is nothing like studying language in another country to get you out of your comfort zone, teach you about life in other parts of the world, and leave you with useful skills that you can bring back to your practice of medicine."

Rula Kanj - 2011

"I attended the IHCAI Medical Spanish course for 4 weeks in San Jose, Costa Rica. It was a wonderful experience and I learned a lot. Overall, I was very pleased with this program and would highly recommend this program to other students interested in learning and/or improving their Spanish."

Jaheedah Raone - 2011

"It is a unique experience to be fully immersed in a different culture without knowing the local language. You learn a lot about yourself and also have a better understanding of what non-English speaking patients experience in the US. I would recommend this trip to any of my peers. You have an opportunity to learn Spanish, be immersed in the new culture and make new, wonderful friends. In your spare time, you get a chance to travel to many beautiful places in Costa Rica."

Luba Rakhlin - 2011


"This trip was my first time outside of the country. I think what made it truly wonderful for me, besides all of the knowledge and rich experiences that I gained, was the program facilitators and staff at IHCAI, as well as, my Costa Rican family. Both the program staff at IHCAI and my family in San Jose made me feel like they had known me my entire life, and treated me as if I was truly a member of their family. That became of optimal importance to me, especially when I was becoming a bit homesick. I learned an incredibleamount of medical Spanish and Costa Rican culture, both inside and outside of the classroom. Since I had such an amazing time there, I plan to return to Costa Rica in my 4th year as an elective." 
Comment of Kristine Goins posted on the website of his university.
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey: Robert Wood Johnson Medical School - USA
IHCAI Foundation - Intensive Medical Spanish Course
June 2009



Lillian Lai -fourth year medical student at UC San Diego, CA - USA - send us a video about his experience in Costa Rica with IHCAI Foundation.
IHCAI Foundation - Intensive Medical Spanish Course
May 2010
Posted on Youtube:

Comment send by email from Case Western Reserve University (January 2009):


Hello Sarah:
A week ago I returned from a wonderful four week Spanish immersion program in San Jose, Costa Rica. I studied at the International Health Central American Institute (IHCAI). IHCAI caters to medical students and residents, but also attendings—and spouses. Traffic was a little slow due to the holidays, but we had five medical students from Australia, two from New Zealand, one American, and one American resident. They arrived with different levels of competency in Spanish, but all were accommodated. Most of the students worked at a clinic on the Pacific (read beach) after their medical Spanish preparation. I was especially impressed with the quality of training and instruction: one of my instructors is a trained linguist (“Jose, es buenos dias, no buenos dia”), another instructor is a physical therapist. Their instructional materials is the best of the five Spanish language schools that I have participated in Latin America.

Please write me if you have other questions.

Joseph T. Williams, Director
Office of Multicultural Programs
Case Western Reserve University

School of Medicine
Room E421
10900 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44106
216-368-0529 Office
216-368-8597 Fax


Comment of Cara Bergamo posted on the website of his university - University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey: Robert Wood Johnson Medical School - USA
IHCAI Foundation - Intensive Medical Spanish Course
June 2009

 University of Pennsylvania /
About the course:
"I really enjoyed my experience with IHCAI. The course was incredibly well organized and relevant.  I feel like i learned a tremendous amount.  The teachers obviously prepared a lot for our course and invested heavily in our development. GRACIAS!"
About the family experience:
"Zulema made an incredible effort to ensure. That i had a great experience in Costa Rica.  She treated me like her own children and was incredibly accomodating. I feel so lucky to was shared her home."
Supriya Rajpal (Medical Resident)
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
P 010A


In the way to Totuguero


About the course:
Connecticut School of Medicine /


"El curso era muy organizada y había mucho atención individual.  Me gustaba mucho todos los profesores y tener diferentes profesores"
About the family experience:
"La familia es muy amable y me ayudaba muchísimo. La madre siempre lavaba mi ropa, cocinaba comida que me gusta y hablaba conmigo"
Kathleen Cusick (medical student)
Connecticut School of Medicine
P 010A


One of the Tortuguero natural canal.

About the course:
Pacific University /
"This is an excellent course and i would recommend it highly to others!  All people involved are excellent and very helpful and accomodating. Thanks for an excellent time!"
About the family experience:
"The housing was excellent and the family was very nice!"
Angela Enos (Physician Assitant Student)
Pacific University
P 010B


A party at Pachira Lodge.

Essay wrote in spanish by James Cooper the last day of the course, february 2003 (P 010 A - University of Connecticut):
"el 28 de febrero 2003
Recuerdo que usted me pareció muy nerviosa cuando llegó al principio.  Yo tambien estuve nervioso el primer día pero nosotros hemos cambiado por lo mejor.  Pienso que su español ha mejorado mucho en la ultima mes. Pero la idioma será solamente una parte pequeña de nuestros recuerdos.  Siempre voy a recordar que Kathleen se sentó a lado de mi y abajo de Jean cuando manejamos desde La Paz hasta San José con 9 personas en un carro pequeño.  Y hemos visto muchas cosas que nunca pensé  ser possible: el pueblo de Montezuma sin agua, un río en la selva por la noche y un volcan. Fue un buen viaje y quiero que pueda quedarme un poco más como usted pero no es posible. Usted va a disfrutar mucho y quiero escuchar a sus historias cuando regresa.  Las historias son casi divertidas como la experiencia real. (Recuerde cuando yo le dije la historia de mi polaquita por la primera vez..."muy funny" como dice Yuri).
Por lo menos siempre voy a recordar que Yuri siempre pronuncia su nombre "Cat-leen". Muy funny."


Some groups of 2003. Evergreen, Tortuguero.

Email send by Marnel Bondoc 8/30/2003 (P 010 A - Midwestern University):
"Dear Dr.Tristan,
How are you? I hope all is well with you and our IHCAI friends. It's been two months past now since I was in Costa Rica, and even now I still miss your beautiful country, sometimes daydreaming of my days in San José and our excursions in Costa Rica. I was going over my recent rotation evaluations and happened to read what you have written about me. "Thank you" so much for the nice words and great score on the evaluation. I was pleasantly surprised and honored to find out that I got the "Exceptional Student" and "High Honor" awards. Dr.Tristan, I had such a wonderful trip to your country that these seem like the "icing on the cake" to top off a truly enjoyable trip to Costa Rica and a remarkable experience with your group. I am so glad that I decided to pursue this Costa Rica experience. I only wish the best for more success to you and for IHCAI. I also have some photos that I would like to send to IHCAI. If it's okay, I will address them "care of" Yuri and will use the following address: IHCAI Foundation Main Office P.O.Box 1677-2100 San Jose, Costa Rica I hope that this would work and that the pictures will bring back good memories of our batch. Dr.Tristan, can you also please forward this email to Yuri. I don't have his email address (I would like to have it) and I personally would like to thank him also for all the help that he provided to my group. Everyone appreciated his time and efforts. Again, thanks very much, and I hope to keep in touch. Take care!


This is a Costa Rica typical dry forest tree blossoming from Guanacaste. 

It is green during the raining seasons and yellow flowering in the dry season.

Picture adapted by Yuri Baidal.


International Health Central American Institute

IHCAI Foundation has its headquartes in San José, Costa Rica, Central America.

IHCAI Foundation is an equal opportunity organization and do not make

any preference by gender, race, sexual orientation or political opinions

and rejects those openly racist, Nazi or Neo Nazi oriented.


IHCAI - Main Office

P.O. Box 1677-2100, San José, Costa Rica,
Barrio Escalante, San Jose, 7th Avenue, 35 and 37 Street, #3530

Tel:  (506) 2234 6354 or (506) 2234 6347   //  Fax:  (506)2226 3047