AFS Summer Programs in Costa Rica

Video and Photos

Woman and man in front of farm house in Costa Rica
Woman and man in front of farm house in Costa Rica
Parque Nacional Cahuita/Manzanillo
Hanging out with family and friends, making smores, and being awesome!
Buffet after Waterpark! First American food in 5 weeks!
Last Night in Costa Rica, Super Bed!
All of the students from AFS Costa Rica Summer 2015
Me and the other AFS students at my school
Lago Arenal


Summer community service: This four-week program is an exceptional opportunity to get deep into the culture of Costa Rica while making friends from around the world and knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of others. Your luggage of choice will be a backpack – testament to the nature of the program. Take on rainforest preservation, community development and sustainable agriculture. Your first week of service will take place at an agro-ecological farm community in the province of Cartago in the mountains of central Costa Rica. The second week will be spent in the city of Palmares, Alajuela, a community with a long and proud history. Your 4th and final community service project will be the most challenging of all. This week will be spent in a national park where you will assist park rangers to improve and build rainforest trails.

Summer Language: This six-week program provides an intensive look at Spanish language through both formal study and first-hand cultural experience. By living with a host family, you will be truly immersed in the language and lifestyle of Costa Rica, getting a unique opportunity to skyrocket your learning while seeing the world. You will get a truly international experience by attending class alongside AFSers from all over the world. This program includes 60 hours of Spanish language classes (4 hours per day, 5 days per week, for 4 weeks). Classes will be offered by a professional language school in various locations across the country. Beginner Spanish speakers are welcome.

Summer homestay: This six-week program is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the lifestyle and culture of Costa Rica, becoming a true member of the community by attending a local high school and living with a host family. Learn Spanish through immersion by studying alongside friends in a Costa Rican school, and form lasting bonds with your family. Teenagers in Costa Rica generally like to hang out in groups, spending their weekends going to the movies, dancing, or going to parties at friends' houses. You will most likely be placed in a public school. As most Costa Rican students graduate from high school in 11th grade, you will probably be place in 10th grade. School generally starts around 7:00 am, with a couple of short breaks and a longer recess around noon.


AFS-USA Scholarships
AFS-USA Grants & Scholarships

The opportunity to study abroad should be available to everyone, regardless of their financial means. Annually, we award scholarships to about half of our study abroad students.

$1,000 - $5,000

Questions & Answers


based on 6 reviews
  • Growth 9.7
  • Support 8.3
  • Fun 8.8
  • Housing 8.8
  • Safety 9
Showing 1 - 6 of 6
Yes, I recommend this program

Six Weeks in Another World

It's quite interesting to see the world from another's point of view. When I went abroad to Costa Rica, the Rio Olympics were ongoing and preparation for Presidential election was commencing. I learned what others thought of American politics-many mixed opinions (as is life in general). In addition to the culture (tica time, gallo pinto, big families), I learned quite a bit about myself. I found that I enjoyed spending time with people, merely just talking. I learned that I loved hugs because even if I didn't know all the nuances of the words "I love you" in Spanish, hugs could convey so much more. I learned that my definition of family could be greatly expanded to not only those who cared for me in my home country, but those who I truly allow to come into my life and who embrace me into their own.

What would you improve about this program?
Students should be allowed to know in advance any AFS activities that will occur (time, place, etc.). It allows students (particularly planners like me) to anticipate future events and plan accordingly for them.
Yes, I recommend this program

True Tico's

The 4 weeks I spent at Costa Rica were amazing. I especially enjoyed my stay in palmares since we got to live with a host family. I felt like I had a new sister. We still keep in contact on facebook. The work we did was pretty hard especially at the volcano park on the 4th week but that just made it all the more rewarding. I really enjoyed my time with the volunteer group, as well as the individual time when we got to explore and work in Costa Rica. I hope that if you choose this particular experience you can also enjoy it as much as I did.

What would you improve about this program?
Make sure people have proper understanding of spanish before you release them alone on public transportation.
Yes, I recommend this program

Un país muy lindo

This was the best experience of my life. I loved going to school even if it was from 7am to 4:30 pm almost everyday. My host family and compañeros were the best and everyone I met was very helpful and kind. They tolerated my inability to speak Spanish and included me during recess and family events all the time. The social scene during my trip was a little dull but I was only there for 6 weeks and it was in the middle of their exam schedule at school so they did not have much time to have fun. Plus, school was very long. I love Costa Rican food too. It's muy rico. Life is completely pura vida. I wish I'd done a year exchange!!

What would you improve about this program?
The one thing I didn't like other than not being able to change my program to a year was the 5 day AFS trip I had to go on. It happened the second week I was there so I missed school after finally getting used to it. It also halted the language learning process because I was with my other AFSers. I am not sure if it was mandatory, but while it was mostly fun, I would have preferred to be with my host family and going to school. One problem was that when they us back in our host town, they didn't let our host families know so we were stuck for 30 minutes until our host parents came to get us.
Yes, I recommend this program

It's a Smal World

While abroad with my program, I began having some recurring health issues and was promptly sent to a larger clinic in the capital city, San Jose. When talking with my doctor, I discovered that not only was he a former exchange student, but on his program, he lived about 20 minutes away from my hometown in the USA! Crazy how small the world is.

What would you improve about this program?
Better support staff while in country. My particular committee seemed to be more concerned with petty drama and pointing out everything I was doing wrong, weather it was true or not.
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Six Weeks

The greatest six weeks of my life. I spent 6 weeks with 7 amazing people learning Spanish in school, while going out and using Spanish in real life situations. We lived with host families, traveled the country, and became natives. My family, and friends over there will always be with me. On our last night in Costa Rica, all 8 of us created a super bed. In one of the rooms we pushed together two beds together and all spent the night in the room. We sang Taylor Swift, drew tattoos on each other, ate foreign junk food, and watched Easy A. We played fishbowl laughing at things like pina colada, and eventually cried as we realized that we would be going back tomorrow. However in the end we knew that we would remain friends no matter the distance and to this date we have kept our AFS group chat active, keeping everyone updated on our lives.

What would you improve about this program?
Overall the program was the greatest six weeks of my short life. However at times the scheduling remained a problem with many of the students left uninformed of plans.
Yes, I recommend this program

The best summer of my life!!

My time spent in Costa Rica was the best summer of my life! I was lucky and got an amazing host family. The people in Costa Rica are so friendly and excited to share their culture and learn about yours. I fell completely in love with the country and people. I became so used to the new culture that I had a hard time coming home. I didn't expect reverse culture shock to hit me so hard. I still communicate with my host family at least every week. I learned so much in 6 weeks and the support I got from my AFS volunteers was really great.