I spent four months in Costa Rica. It was AMAZING, as everyone days about their study abroad experience. I am so glad that I went for an entire semester because I got to know the country so much more than if I had stayed for less time. And there were still more places that I want to visit one day. Costa Rica is the most biodiverse countries in the world, so if you appreciate plant life and the outdoors, Costa Rica would be a great place for you to go. It also has so many different biomes: beach, forest, and mountains. They are all so gorgeous! Costa Rica has beaches on two sides. One is the facing the Pacific Ocean and one is facing the Atlantic. THe two coasts have two different vibes, which is cool It is fairly easy and cheap to get around the country by bus. I stayed in San Jose, which is the capital and is a city. There is sooo much to do in San Jose. We would leave to visit other places in Costa Rica most weekends, but if we did stay in San Jose, we could always find something entertaining to do. Ticos and Ticas (people who are from Costa Rica) are super kind and caring people. The food is buenisimo. Gallo pinto is their signature dish, which is beans and rice. We literally had gallo pinto practically every morning for breakfast. I loved it, so did my roommates. I miss it so much now. But if you hate beans, that might be a bit of a struggle for you. I was there during the dry season, which was perfect. So you should definitely take that into consideration when you're thinking about what time of the year you will be there. Because apparently it rains kind of non-stop during the wet season. Ideally, you would know some amount of spanish, but I wouldn't say it's required in order to study abroad there. A lot of people know english.
I chose to go through AIFS because they offered everything I wanted during my study abroad experience: the classes I needed (spanish, biology, and sociology), immersion (going to a local university and living in a homestay), and volunteer opportunities. AIFS also had excursions that were included that were a lot of fun, and took a trip to Nicaragua (at an additional cost). The final cost to study abroad through AIFS included tuition, housing, and 2 meals every day, and a support staff in the country. I really think that with all those things included, I probably paid less studying abroad in Costa Rica for the semester than I would've spent staying home (when I consider tuition, rent, groceries, gas money, all that). I REALLY appreicated the AIFS staff that was there in the country with us. They are native Costa Ricans, so they were completely knowledgeable about the country and any questions we had from what are the areas that are safe for us to go to where can I get my eyebrows done. Insurance was also included, Luckily I never had to take advantage of that, but I know that other students did. And the AIFS staff was there with them, in the hospital, being a mom away from home. It was very comforting to have them there. We had the freedom to be independent when we wanted and the opportunity to reach out for support when we needed. It's the best of both worlds. I'm extremely glad I chose AIFS. They really care about their students and providing the best and safest study abroad experience that they can.