NGU News

NGU Students Take Part in Study Abroad Trip to Costa Rica

Posted on: August 31, 2023
By Billy Cannada,

Tigerville, SC (August 31, 2023) Eleven North Greenville University (NGU) students spent a month fully immersed in the language and the culture of Costa Rica over the summer, taking part in a study abroad trip organized by the university’s Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics.

“It’s a unique opportunity for our students to go and spend a month in another country and see how it works,” said Dr. Ben Coates, chair of NGU’s Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics. “As a language teacher, the chance to be immersed in the language is so valuable. Things that you couldn’t understand in the classroom, when you hear it spoken over and over, you pick it up. Even if you don’t understand all of the grammar behind it, you still pick it up.”

Staying with Costa Rican families and attending class at The Spanish Institute near the capital city of San José, students had the opportunity to participate in unique learning opportunities, take travel excursions and participate in local mission projects from May 7-June 9.

“The institute we attended, Instituto de Lengua Española (ILE), offered so many cultural immersions,” said Harrison Kunselman, a rising junior NGU student who participated in the trip. “We took an excursion to a volcano, attended authentic cooking and dance classes, played traditional Costa Rican games, and everyone spoke Spanish. Even those who couldn’t fluently speak the language tried their best with what knowledge they did have. While there, I was able to increase my vocabulary, ability to speak Spanish, as well as practice translating for the first time ever.”

Kunselman said he had an interest in the trip last year, and decided to join the team in 2023.

“I’ve never traveled out of the country, much less participated in a study abroad program before, and I was excited to get to know how other people live,” he said. “I was able to acclimate rather quickly, and everyone down there was so kind and friendly.”

The experience was life-changing for Kunselman, who has begun to feel a call toward missions and recently changed his major at NGU to Spanish.

“I grew in a lot of ways,” he said, recalling the team’s trip to Talamanca, an opportunity he had to share the gospel, and participate in a prayer session overlooking the Panamanian mountains.

“I felt so strongly in my heart, a voice in my head saying, ‘This is what I want you to do,’” Kunselman said. “Whether that’s missions in Talamanca, teaching at ILE, teaching Spanish in the States, I didn’t care. My heart was changed in that moment. No more was I afraid of the newness of Costa Rica. I didn’t want to leave.”

Coates said he was excited to lead the team and hopes it will inspire others to immerse themselves in other cultures. 

“You never know what God is going to do,” Coates said. “When you go and spend so many days using a different language and seeing a different way of life, it’s just incredible.”

About North Greenville University

NGU offers more than 125 areas of study across certificate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and early college opportunities. Online. In-person. At our main campus in Tigerville, SC, the Tim Brashier Campus in Greer, SC, or several educational centers around the U.S. One university, many locations. Every day. Epic. To learn more, visit

© North Greenville University. All Rights Reserved. | Accessibility Statement

North Greenville University (NGU) admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.