AFS Year and Semester High School Abroad in Costa Rica

Video and Photos


Costa Rica is the place of pura vida (pure life), a contagious attitude of living life to the fullest. And it shows – Costa Rica is the world's happiest country according to the Happy Planet index. Costa Ricans call themselves ticos, and you’ll often hear them demonstrate their national pride by describing something as muy tico, or “very Costa Rican.” Ticos are generally easy-going, so you’re likely to get along with most people you meet.
Our high school study abroad program in Costa Rica is filled with an immersive homestay and high school experience, and an unbelievable tour of this stunning land. This is your chance to make lifelong friends across cultures and become a member of the community. With its tropical climate, biodiversity, fresh food, and relaxed lifestyle, going to school in Costa Rica is an enchanting way to discover a new culture. By living with a host family and attending a local high school, you’ll get an inside look at this idyllic society.

Gap community service: Spend a semester after high school making a difference in a community in Costa Rica while soaking up the local culture. Get the immersion experience through living with a host family and improving your Spanish, all in the lush tropics of this beautiful country. You will be assigned a community service projects based on your personal skills and interest. 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. Sports are popular among boys, especially soccer, basketball, and swimming, though female athletes are becoming more popular as well. As a community service volunteer, you might participate in social, health, or education projects, work on an organic farm, assist park rangers at a National Reserve, or help at a botanical garden. Upon arrival, you'll participate in a two-day orientation followed by ten days of Spanish instruction, then travel to your host community.

  • Immerse yourself in the Spanish language - the best way to become fluent in the second most-spoken language in the world.
  • Live with a host family to deepen your immersion and connection to Costa Rican culture. If you’re like most AFSers, you won’t want to leave this second family and home.
  • Explore the lush, tropical beauty of Costa Rica and sample some of the world’s freshest fruits and vegetables.
  • Make connections and memories you'll never forget with other AFS exchange students from all over the world.
  • Become a global citizen. Gain intercultural communication skills. Build your college and career resume. Help create a more peaceful, understanding world.


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


10 Rating
based on 2 reviews
  • Growth 10
  • Support 8
  • Fun 9
  • Housing 8.5
  • Safety 8.5
Showing 1 - 2 of 2
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Expanding

Everyone always describes their exchange as “life changing” but mine was life expanding. Not only did I learn to speak Spanish with the help of my amazing host family and classmates, but I learned how to cook, surf, *actually* relax, and become part of the culture. When I returned, all I could ask myself was “when can I go back?” One thing to take with you there and come back with, is to always be open for change and new opportunities. Costa Rica is the best place to learn to adapt, improvise, and overcome any obstacle. My favorite memory has to be getting out of school early and grabbing some surfboards, food, drinks, and heading to the beach on some bikes with my friends for the rest of the day. There are no words to explain my experience, only a simple piece of advice: just go already!

What would you improve about this program?
Better investigation into host families.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica with AFS

No matter where you end up living in Costa Rica, there is always an opportunity to travel and see the other parts of the country. Traveling throughout Costa Rica is very easy because of how great the public bus system is and how reasonable the costs are. The people of Costa Rica are very friendly and always willing to sit down to talk over coffee and bread in the afternoon. The atmosphere is 100% Pura Vida and everybody is always relaxed and very go-with-the-flow.

What would you improve about this program?
The staff in Costa Rica can be more proactive in changing families (rather than waiting 2-3 months for uncomfortable students).