International Center for Development Studies (ICDS)


The International Center for Development Studies is located in San Jose, Costa Rica. ICDS has partnered up with Universidad Latina de Costa Rica (ULatina) to offer a handful of technical and educational programs that simultaneously provide the highest level of circumstances for students to learn or perfect their Spanish language skills while taking courses on Central & Latin American cultural, environmental, and developmental issues.

Students stay with carefully selected host families as a guest in their homes to provide a true cultural immersion experience along with the added opportunity to further their Spanish language proficiency. Service-learning opportunities are also available in conjunction with ICDS' academic programs. Check out some of ICDS' amazing programs below to see which one is right for you!


200 m E cajero BCR Ulatina casa gris esquinera
San José, San Pedro
Costa Rica


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I studied abroad through ICDS for 3 months in Costa Rica and it was one, if not, the best experience abroad I have had. The people and vibes are always very laid back and supportive. I got to experience first-hand how Costa Ricans employ solidarity in their country which was eye-opening especially for someone who lives in the US. The land is amazing and very attractive and easily accessible! The staff and admin from ICDS were very resourceful in helping us prepare and schedule traveling, as well as, getting accustomed to the culture. Additionally, ICDS worked hard to help us explore different locations such as Nicaragua!! I also got to make new friends and connections because of the many diverse students that ICDS recruits. Being in Costa Rica reminded me that, after school, there is a whole world waiting for me to explore it. I definitely plan on going back to Costa

How can this program be improved?
Allow participants to have more class interactions with Costa Ricans.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Prior to this program, I had traveled extensively, however, it was always with family. This was the first time I traveled alone for a large portion of time. I noticed that going abroad on my own allowed me to personally grow. When I returned home, I became so much more independent, responsible, RELAXED (which is a huge success given how stressed I was before), and appreciative of everything, especially family and friends.
Just that experience of personal development made the trip worth it for me. However, the sights I saw, adventures I experienced, and the information I learned about Costa Rica made it that much more incredible. I mean, come on, I saw sloths, ziplined across a huge cloud reserve, and Gallo pinto everyday (some people get tired of rice and beans but not me!). And the homestay was another way to fully integrate into the culture and get to know some nice locals.
I have to be honest, I was itching to get as the time to finish got closer. But it was an absolute wonderful experience, and I recommend that everyone study abroad somewhere at least once!
Thanks ICDS for the great experience!

How can this program be improved?
A bit more organization on the part of the stuff.
Yes, I recommend this program
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The program was not very challenging, as each week-long class consisted of creating power point presentations and then presenting them.
Professors were very intelligent and knowledgeable but did not do much more than lecture.

No, I don't recommend this program
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Overall, ICDS is a great academic abroad program. The housing is through host families within the community and my host family was fantastic. My host mom has been extremely patient and helpful with my Spanish and her food is delicious. You get a taste of the real culture living with a Costa Rican family.
The academic portion is average, I enjoyed my classes although they seemed to overlap a bit. ICDS does an excellent job of planning staff led field trips for the weekends. The site visits through ICDS were wonderful.
One of my critiques is the cost and vague presentation of the required student visa. I had to budget an addition $500 that was not included in the program fee.
Overall, I have had a great experience with ICDS and four months in Costa Rica is amazing in itself!

Yes, I recommend this program
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I live in a home stay close to the University. My family here is wonderful and always help me with my Spanish and always make me feel welcome in the every day conversations.
Not having class on Fridays has been a real benefit to living in a foreign country. This gives me a chance to explore this unknown country. With this day off, I am able to go places other than just outside my neighborhood and experience other ways of life and the various culture around the country.
The only real difficulties I encounter are minimal. When I first arrived, I could not accurately portray what I was feeling due to the language barrier. But through time and through Spanish classes and the help of my host parents, I am more confident in my language skills. The other difficulty I have encountered are the never ending cat-calls from the local men. In all honesty, I know I need to just get used to it, but it can be difficult at times.
The main thing to remember is, continue speaking no matter how difficult it may be. Take advantage of this beautiful country and all it has to offer. Get to know the people and don't be afraid to try new things. Especially the food!

Yes, I recommend this program


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