Study Abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica: Semester or Academic Year

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About

Spend a semester or academic year in San José with AIFS! You’ll earn up to 23 credits per semester from Universidad Veritas through various courses and internship opportunities. Courses are taught in English and Spanish. No previous Spanish language study is required for most programs.

Universidad Veritas offers an internship program and volunteer opportunities. Their Spanish Language and Internship Program welcomes students with an advanced level of Spanish.

You’ll enjoy cultural and social activities including:
• Costa Rican cooking classes
• Visits to local museums and historical sites
• A 3-day trip to Arenal Volcano, Hot Springs and Monteverde Cloud Forest
• A 3-day trip to the beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park
• Day trip Poás Volcano, Doka Coffee Estate and Sarchi artisans.
Optional excursions include a 2-day trip hiking and rafting in Sarapiquí and a 4-day trip to Panama.

Highlights
  • Earn up to 23 credits with transcripts issued by Veritas University
  • 3-day trip to Arenal Volcano, Hot Springs, and Monteverde Cloud Forest
  • 3-day trip to Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Wide range of environmental studies courses
  • Internship and volunteer opportunities

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Questions & Answers

Reviews

9.67 Rating
based on 18 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 94.44%
  • 7-8 rating 5.56%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Academics 8.4
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.8
  • Housing 9.6
  • Safety 8.7
Showing 1 - 8 of 18
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Kylie
22
United States
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Views of paradise and hiking to heaven

My study abroad trip to San Jose, Costa Rica was the best 4 months of my life. In the time that I was there I hiked up multiple mountains and a volcano. I also made hikes to 6 different waterfalls in which I got to swim in 2 of them. I went to a black sand beach, many white sand beaches and a beach made out of broken seashells (I suggest wearing shoes, lol). I got to ride on more boats than I can count, a banana boat, a buggy, a zipline, and many busses. I also got to take 2 Spanish Classes that ensured you learn the language and 3 Elective classes that all applied towards my degree. My host family and the support staff (Karla and Catalina) were my specific highlight though. No matter what problems came up, my host family, Karla, and Catalina were there for me. Everyone in Costa Rica was so nice and I miss them everyday. If you love to do adventurous and sometimes adrenaline activating activities, Costa Rica is the trip for you!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I saw a raccoon tear through a bag to steal peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and monkeys run over to try to take them from the raccoons.
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AISHA
24
United States
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Fun and Memorable

I did a J-Term in January 2019 with AIFS in Costa Rica. It was a lovely and fun trip. I loved Costa Rican culture. The people were so friendly and my host family was so kind to me. Their culture is so relaxed and I felt welcomed there. We were doing something different everyday. I took a tour of San Jose, I visited different restaurants, I went to the malls, we went to Manuel Antonio (which is amazingly beautiful), I visited a volcano, a church, and a haunted house in Cartago, I visited museums, saw all types of cool animals, I saw a waterfall, and got to taste some amazing food. The staff of AIFS were so friendly and made sure we had a good time. It was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. The only thing I wish was that I did a semester abroad, but J-Term was good since our group was very small and I got to know the other people better (the semester program has a lot of people).

What would you improve about this program?
I would not improve anything because I felt like everything was executed well in the program.
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Ali
23
Female
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Semester in Costa Rica

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.

What would you improve about this program?
Cheaper flight tickets and that make sense. I paid double what someone else leaving from Houston would have paid, and the flight went to Dallas, then Costa Rica even though there were flights with AIFS students that left from Houston and went straight to Costa Rica.
Tara
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The home away from home

This program is honestly once in a lifetime. From the matching of my Host family, from the personal accommodations that were easily made if something was not up to par, my semester in Costa Rica with AIFS was one that I will never forget. Going to a country by yourself for a semester can be nerve-wracking as was for me in the beginning, but AIFS made sure that right from the very beginning, I was taken care of. There is a huge list of things that I can pinpoint to why I would recommend this program to someone but the top three on the list would have to be because:
1.) The Program does not sugarcoat and always has your best interest in mind when it comes to literally everything.
2.) The experience of living with a host family allows you to fully emerge in the culture and interact in a family atmosphere.
3.) Costa Rica is just a fulfilling place to take a breather and celebrate life with other people who become family forever.

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Zsa’mine
26
Female
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Realizations

I realized very quickly that San José is more of a travel city. If you wanted to do any of the things in travel magazines you have to travel at least 3 hours by car so during the week there wasn’t really much to get distracted by besides the museums and church if you’re into that. The destinations, once reached were very worth it but if you want to be located in a town where things are constantly going on keep that in mind. Overall the experience was great, I learned a lot about me and possible interests for the future.

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Courtney
24
Female
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Study Abroad (with sloths!)

Freshman year of college, my roommate and I were lying on our dorm floor with at least 20 different study abroad catalogs spread between the two of us. We had highlighted, bookmarked, and put sticky notes all over these catalogs. Both of us knew we were going to work towards studying abroad and finding the right program was important to us. I chose AIFS not only due to the fact that it was incredibly cost- effective, provided three different travel opportunities included in the cost of the program, and gave us the option of a homestay, but also because of the interactions I had with the AIFS staff as they helped me through the process of applying for, and going, on this adventure to Costa Rica. Before, during, and after I was abroad, AIFS provided support, encouragement, and resources to make the entire process as easy as possible.

And what about Costa Rica? It is truly one of the most special places in the world. With the Pura Vida attitude, the incredible natural wonders, and the kindness and compassion shown by the Costa Rican people, it will always hold a special spot in my heart. I can not say enough good things about the time I had there through the travel and also in my classes. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to experience all that Costa Rica has to offer!

What would you improve about this program?
N/A
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Emily
25
Female
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Decision of your Life

When I came to Costa Rica I had no idea what to expect. At first I was so nervous but as soon as I was with the AIFS team, I knew this was exactly where i was supposed to be. This country has so much to offer and I have learned so much from it. Veritas University is so unique from any other school and I loved it. I have made some amazing friends that will stay in my life forever because once you feel pura vida in your life you never want to let go of it. "Pure Vida" is what they say down here. At first it sounds like just any other saying but it means so much more than that. When you feel pura vida in your life, you see life through a different lens. One that is more appreciative, pure and just happy. This country, this program, these amazing people having giving me one of the best journeys of my life. I cannot wait to take what I have learned back to the states with me. More importantly I cannot wait to come back here. What I also really liked about this program and why I chose this country compared to countries in Europe, is the experiences that if offers. While Europe is beautiful, Costa rica is full of constant adventure and doing things you would have never imagined doing, like jumping from 135 feet in the air, or seeing the top of a volcano, or traveling to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world! My final piece of advice is to stop think and just come to Costa Rica. You won't regret it.

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Mackenzie
26
Female
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Living the Tica Life

Stepping onto a plane that would take me to another country alone was daunting, a country that speaks a different language, and a country where I knew no one. The plane ride consisted of nervous but good nerves, awaiting to see what would happen. The second I walked into my Tica (Costa Rican) house, I felt at home. My home stay family was more than welcoming and immediately brought me to their grandparents house for a birthday party. I became a part of the family in a way I never thought possible. Living with my family for four months created a bond that I think about everyday now. The amount of cultural immersion I experienced will never be taken for granted. AIFS paired me with a family that I am waiting to go back and see very soon. The cultural excursions that were included into the program forced me to get out there and see how traveling can be done so easily. I formed relationships with friends I still talk to today and I matured immensely over this time, being on my own but always having the support of AIFS to have my back. The classes I took at Veritas University were just as challenging as my classes here in the United States but my favorite part was the teachers. They were always using creative ways to help us learn and understand. I took tropical marine biology and what we learned in class was applied hand-on when we went snorkeling and had to identify what we learned in the classroom. This type of learning was so beneficial because we got to apply what we learned and see it in real life. Another class that I absolutely loved was Spanish for Health Professions. I learned how to speak to a patient in spanish and how to perform certain tasks, all in spanish. I plan moving onto Physician Assistant school following graduation and continuing my spanish for the health field is a goal of mine. Costa Rica had it all for me. Even though my friends who went to Europe got to travel to so many countries, I was able to explore in depth everything Costa Rica offered. Costa Rica is so diverse and I was able to go to both the Atlantic and Caribbean sides, the cloud rain forest, tropical rain forest, and to the mountains. Every trip was always an adventure and completely affordable. All I need now is a plane ticket to go back to the place that helped me find out who I really am.

What would you improve about this program?
I do not think anything could be improved. AIFS is the full package, offering a meal package, housing, cultural excursions, and much more.