Monteverde Host Family Interview

The Monteverde Cloud Forest of Costa Rica is home to the section of the gap year when students live in homestays. That is, independent living with a local family while exploring their culture and experiencing an apprenticeship in a particular skill during our trimester 1 ISPs. During my ten-day long homestay with a family of four, a happily married couple with both a son and a daughter, I decided to take the opportunity to interview them in order to better understand their role in our journey, as well as my own in theirs. The interview (originally in broken Spanish via Google Translate but translated and tweaked to better suit English) is as follows:winterline global gap year

Q: Why did you decide to start hosting travel abroad students?

A: Our family has actually been hosting students for almost 17 years. We have seen many types come and go, all participating in or working toward something new. It has always been a pleasure to meet people from new places as we don’t get to travel very much. It lets us learn more about the places they come from, and we enjoy teaching them about our home. We keep a photo album of all of the people we’ve hosted, and we enjoy adding to it.

At this point, we took a photo to add to the album and she showed me her past students.

Q: Have you ever had any problems with someone you’ve hosted?

A: Coming to a new place is a tough adjustment for many at first, especially when they don’t speak the language (this entire interview was conducted through Google Translate), so there are instances where we have had to ask our visitors to not to act a certain way so as to avoid trouble, however we are generally pretty open and accepting, and allow our visitors to be as independent as they please.

I can certainly vouch for this, staying with the family was a pleasure. They had very few rules and allowed me to do mostly anything I wanted. There was a lot of respect between us and it made for a very enjoyable stay.

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Homestay family

Q: How much do you know about Winterline and what we’re doing on our journey?

A: Very little, we were asked to provide a home for international students and that was about it. Of course, we said yes, but we would like to know more.

This made for good conversation; them not knowing too much allowed me to break the tension easily and tell them all about the amazing program Winterline has put together. They were very excited to learn more about a program they had never encountered.

Q: Would you ever hope for or allow your children to stay with a family abroad?

A: I think it would be a good opportunity, but I would never feel safe letting my children travel like that. I’m a mother first and foremost, always worrying. Maybe someday if the opportunity arises, we will talk about it.

My ISP during this time was learning to cook, so I asked this question on a whim:

Q: How would you like it if I cooked dinner one night?

A: Oh no, I don’t like anyone else to work in my kitchen. I appreciate the gesture, but let me take care of things like that.

She held true to this, always anticipating and accommodating every one of my needs without me even asking. A very lovely woman and mother to get to know, and I am grateful for everything she has done for me.

This interview was especially difficult to complete, as Google Translate is not a reliable means of communication in another language. It was enough to get the point across, but I feel as though myself and my host family missed the full scope of each other’s responses. The interview may have been more fleshed out had I spoken Spanish, or they English, but on the flipside I feel as though this was a very valuable outcome for myself as well as for future students who can now take these shortcomings into consideration. I’m glad it went the way it did, and learning about my host family brought us closer together and made my stay that much more enjoyable!

What to Expect from the Winterline Admissions Process

So you’ve decided to make the leap and take a gap year, you’ve researched some programs, stalked some Instagrams, and now it’s time to apply! The Winterline application process is very straightforward and you can complete it quickly if you set your mind to it. It’s less complicated and less competitive than applying for college, so don’t stress too much. If you’ve been going through that process, the Winterline application may be a welcome break, and will, of course, give you an amazing adventure to look forward to. winterline, gap year, admissions

Step 1

Your first step is to complete the online program application. This is just 4 short steps:

  1. Contact Info. Show us you’re interested, help us stay in touch throughout this process!
  2. A Short Essay Question: “What do you think might be the most difficult aspects of this program for you?” If you haven’t already, use this as an opportunity to reflect on the program you’re applying for! Read about it on our website. What stands out to you as particularly exciting? What stands out to you as an aspect of the program that will challenge you? Tell us about it!
  3. Guardian Info. It’s important that your support system is on board with your gap year. We want to get in touch with them to introduce ourselves and answer their questions about safety and what exactly you’ll learn on your Winterline program. 
  4. Personal Info and References. Just a little more information we’re looking for to round out your application, including your nationality, high school graduation year, and any additional info you’d like to share with us.Winterline Global Entrepreneurship and Business Programs

The application shouldn’t take you more than an hour or so to complete. The part that will take the most time is the short essay question. It’s smooth sailing from there! At the end of the application, please submit your $50 application fee. This will allow us to process your application and ultimately send out your acceptance decision. 

Step 2

If you’re applying for a summer program, you’re done! The Admissions Committee will review your application to make an acceptance decision. 

If you’re applying to a semester program or our signature 9-month Global Skills Program, next up for you is an interview with a member of our Admissions Team. Keep an eye on your email inbox after you submit your online program application; we’ll email you with instructions to get the interview scheduled. Interviews last about an hour and are a chance for us to get to know you better. Typically, interviews are conducted using a video calling program called Zoom, but if you live close to one of our interviewers, we can set up something in person!winterline, gap year, admissions

Don’t stress about your interview; it’s relatively informal. You’ll chat with your interviewer about why you’re interested in Winterline, what you hope to get out of the program, and how you’ll face some of the challenges the program presents. Our interviewers hold a wide variety of roles in Winterline. Whether you chat with our Director of Outreach, our Director of Student Services, our Director of Programs, or another staff member, your interviewer will have a unique perspective about all that Winterline has to offer. Many of our interviewers are even former Field Advisors! This is a great opportunity to ask any lingering questions you have about the program. 

Step 3 (optional)

If you’d like to apply for financial aid or scholarships, now is the time to do so. We recommend getting these submitted within a day or two of your interview. The Scholarship Committee meets regularly to review aid applications, so getting those submitted will ensure that your aid offer is included in your acceptance materials. You are welcome to apply for both our financial aid and our work-study scholarships. winterline, gap year, admissions

Work-study scholarships are photography, videography, journalism, photojournalism, and social media scholarships that give students the opportunity to work with a staff mentor to develop those skills while helping to contribute to our blog and social media, all in exchange for a program discount. If you indicate in your initial program application that you are concerned about the cost of the program, the aid applications will be emailed to you upon submission.

Step 4

We have rolling admissions for both our program and aid applications. Once you have completed the steps above, the Admissions Committee will review your materials to make an admissions decision. Decisions are typically sent out within a week of your interview. Be sure to communicate with us during this time! Do you have questions about your aid package? Payment plan? How to pay using your 529 funds? Lingering questions about the program itself? Just ask! Now is the time to get answers, and we want to do everything we can to help you feel confident in your decision to travel with us. When you reach that decision, send in your $5,000 deposit to reserve your spot in the program, send in your signed enrollment contract, and keep an eye on your email for an introduction to our Director of Student Services, who will guide you through the onboarding process. The adventure begins! 

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An Interview at Rancho Mastatal

While he and his squad were learning about sustainability at Rancho Mastatal, our student Liam took some time to interview staff member Ryan Roberts. Liam learned all about Ryan: what brought him to Rancho Mastatal, what it’s like to live on the ranch, and how he intends to use what he’s learned in the future when he eventually leaves the ranch.

Watch the interview to find out what life is like in rural Costa Rica, and if you’re interested in visiting for yourself, you’re in luck – in 2020, students on both of our gap year itineraries and our Latin America semester program will be spending time at Rancho Mastatal. Apply today to be one of these students!