Students looking to study and work abroad in Costa Rica will find the country welcoming, with several programs and incentives. Here are your best resources to get started.
An International Student Identity Card issued by the International Student Travel Federation entitles students ages 12 to 26 to discounts on transportation, entrance to museums, and other savings. When purchased in the United States ($25), ISIC even includes $3,000 in emergency medical coverage, limited hospital coverage, and access to a 24-hour toll-free emergency hotline. Students (and educators under 26) can obtain ISICs at any student union. Alternately, contact the Council on International Educational Exchange, which issues ISICs and also arranges study vacations in Costa Rica. In Canada, cards can be obtained from Travel Cuts (Canada tel. 416-614-2887 or 866-246-9762). In the United Kingdom, students can obtain an ISIC from any student union office.
Travel and Work StudyCosta Rica has dozens of language schools. Most programs include homestays with Costa Rican families.The University of Costa Rica offers special cursos libres (free courses) during winter break (Dec.-Mar.). It also grants “special student” status to foreigners. Contact the Oficina de Asuntos Internacionales (tel. 506/2207-5080). The University for Peace (tel. 506/2205-9000) and Organization for Tropical Studies (tel. 506/2524-0607, U.S. tel. 919-684-5774) also sponsor study courses. EcoTeach (U.S. tel. 800-626-8992) places students on environmental projects in Costa Rica.
Work-abroad programs are also offered through CIEE’s Work Abroad Department (U.S. tel. 888-268-6245), which publishes Work, Study, Travel Abroad and The High School Student’s Guide to Study, Travel, and Adventure Abroad.
Holbrook Travel (U.S. tel. 800-451-7111) offers an eight-day Tropical Education Program in Costa Rica for students and teachers. The School for Field Studies (U.S. tel. 978-741-3567 or 800-989-4418) has summer courses in sustainable development.
Costa Rica has dozens of language schools. Most programs include homestays with Costa Rican families—a tremendous (and fun) way to boost your language skills and learn the local idioms. Many also feature workshops on Costa Rican culture, dance lessons, and excursions. Courses run an average of 2 to 4 weeks.
The following language schools are recommended:
- Centro Panamericano de Idiomas (tel. 506/2265-6306).
- Costa Rica Language Academy (tel. 506/2280-1685, U.S. tel. 866-230-6361).
- Institute for Central American Development Studies (tel. 506/2225-0508). Weds Spanish tuition to learning about social conditions, environmental issues, and politics.
- Intensa (tel. 506/2281-1818, U.S. tel. 866-277-1352).
- Spanish Abroad (U.S. tel. 602-778-6791 or 888-722-7623). The largest language school in Costa Rica, with nine locals nationwide and classes starting every Monday year-round.
- Speak Spanish like a Costa Rican, by Christopher Howard, is a book and 90-minute audio recording.
Excerpted from the Tenth Edition of Moon Costa Rica.