• Costa Rica
    • San José
Academic Year, Fall, Spring, Summer
Subject Areas
Advertising Architecture Arts Biology Business Design Ecology Economics History Interior Design International Relations Latin American Studies Literature Marine Biology Marketing Sociology Sustainable Development +7
Health & Safety

Program Details

Program Type
Degree Level
Host Family


Price Details
Program Includes:
*Pre-departure Services: Advising, Orientation Materials and Support, Social Networking, Scholarships
*On-site Services: Airport Reception, Resident Director, On-Site Orientation, Housing, Tuition, Tutoring, Language and Cultural Tools, Medical Insurance, Excursions, Social and Cultural Activities, API Learning and Engagement Badge Program, Welcome and Farewell Group Meals
*Re-Entry Services: Re-Entry Materials and Support, Post-Program Evaluation, Transcript, Alumni Network, and more!
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Airport Transfers Classes Some Meals Travel Insurance Wifi
What's Not Included
May 06, 2024
Apr 30, 2020
8 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Located in the central valley of Costa Rica, San José is a vibrant urban center in the heart of a serene and beautiful nation. Three volcanoes surround the city, and quaint villages, farms and coffee plantations dot the hillsides. Though the metropolitan area is home to 36% of the nation’s population, one can easily explore the smaller central area of the city and discover its neighborhood markets and local restaurants. Cultural opportunities including theater, music, cinema and dance are also abundant in San José. API in San José offers a wide variety of programs across the semester, short-term, and summer sessions!

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Popular Programs

San Jose

Students who choose to study abroad in San José through API’s Multidisciplinary and Environmental Studies Program at the Universidad Veritas will complete a combination of intensive Spanish language courses and elective course offerings in English or Spanish. The number of Spanish language courses desired dictates how many elective courses students complete each term. This program is offered in the fall, spring, academic year, and summer.

Program Reviews

4.50 Rating
based on 4 reviews
  • 5 rating 50%
  • 4 rating 50%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Academics 4
  • Support 4.5
  • Fun 5
  • Housing 4.5
  • Safety 4
Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Thank you API & Company - Amazing!

I had not only a spectacular experience Abroad at the San José-based Universidad Veritas in Costa Rica thanks to the phenomenal Fall 2018 Language and Culture program created by API, but also an unforgettable one. Grew myself personally, taught me lessons, and gave me some amazing times I will cherish forever. Highly recommend the organization Academic Programs International (API), not just this program / studying abroad in Costa Rica via API! Studying abroad is the best thing I have done thus far, by far!

What would you improve about this program?
Not anything significant off of the top of my head. 5 stars.
84 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The Pure Life of the Rich Coast - Lose oneself to find one's self.

Have you ever thought about studying abroad? What stopped you? Did you look through a few brochures and fantasize about what you would be doing in (insert dream country), only to toss them aside and continue with your life? If this isn't the case, and you are interested, then what is stopping you? Take the leap, and you shall not be disappointed.

Still settling in and getting used to living on my own, I was that person during my first year of college. The next year, my Spanish tutor advised I look into some of the affiliated programs offered, and so I did so. A very low probability that I would follow through, he was surprised and excited when I came into my session the next day with firm intent to leave the country the following semester.

I chose the Intensive Language - San Jose program due to the hours spent on Spanish, as well as the city location, as I'm from the very rural, mountainous state of Vermont. New language, new city, new climate, and a new culture. I had plunged myself into this lifestyle and was about to make good of it.

Weekdays I enjoyed a beautiful and sunny 20-minute morning walk to Universidad Veritas through my neighborhood. I would give an enthusiastic "Buenos dias!" or "Pura Vida" and a wave to the local cafe and bar owners that now knew me by my first name. The barking dogs behind peoples gates, the occasional homeless person, and crossing a small highway were the only items that could possibly make someone feel uncomfortable on the walk to class.

My classes included intensive Spanish classes that were held from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., 5 days a week, with 30 minute breaks in the middle. These were essential to the maintained attention span of the students as 4 hours can be a long time for learning the same subject. My peers and I would gather in the courtyard and share class or weekend stories over a cup of coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice, or a tasty enchilada from a nearby vendor. The professors clearly love teaching, yet are lenient enough because they understand that they are teaching students from another country. Sometimes I would practice Spanish on the way home from class, which I found to be one of the most rewarding aspects of studying a language; being able to use what you learned in class the moment you re-enter the real world.

Esteban and Francy, the program staff for API, were of the utmost in assistance and advice. Passionate about what they do, interesting to converse with, understanding, and moreover; caring about your personal safety. I sustained an injury while studying abroad which involved having my big toe's toenail removed at the hospital. Esteban readily brought me to the hospital, paid the taxi driver for both ways, and helped me buy the proper prescriptions.

My host family was a perfect match. Two six-foot tall males and myself shared the pleasure of having this host family which included a very traditional, old woman and her son. She cooked for us whenever we were hungry, showed us love when we were feeling down, and spoke to us of old times and customs in Costa Rica when we had the chance to sit down with her. Her meals ranged from an occasional "French-Bread and hamburger" sandwich and savory Costa Rican coffee at breakfast to other very traditional dishes such as Black Bean Soup and Gallo Pinto. The proportions served were enough that we would have to tell her we had enough. One of my roommates was very picky, and the other gluten--intolerant. Our host mother catered to them tastefully and effortlessly.

Although no program is perfect, I feel as though the sheer number of equally lucky and unfortunate experiences I faced while abroad gave me an extremely positive experience overall.

My unfortunate experiences include, but were not limited to, losing half my big toenail and have it ripped off with pliers shortly after, getting lost in my own neighborhood until dark on the third day, getting attacked and successfully escaping four muggers, food poisoning, bad sun burns, witnessing a possibly fatal accident, and almost stepping on a venomous Eyelash Viper.

My especially good experiences included scuba diving for a class trip, exploring to a new spot every weekend via the convenient public bus system, snorkeling for class field trips, climbing volcanoes, acquiring my Advanced Scuba Certification while touching turtles and seeing Bull sharks under 99 ft. of water, cliff jumping off waterfalls, jungle hikes, bungee jumping, making a good number of local, life-long Tico friends, (two of which let me drive their motorcycles and cars the second time I visited). I'm especially grateful for one Tico friend in particular who showed us the deeper part of Costa Rica (Strip clubs, jazz clubs where we'd watch him play, his cousin's private paintball arena in the jungle, go-karting, unique restaurants, his home, haunted hospitals, etc.).

Avoiding the cliché, "Best. Experience. Ever.", I truly believe I may have had one of the better experiences abroad than many others. It is something that becomes a part of you; your second home on this Earth. I think about it everyday since I've left. The collective experiences brought about by friends (U.S. and Ticos), family, faculty (API and Universidad Veritas), animals, and even the common bystander left me with a sense of belonging in Costa Rica, as well as a mind that was now open to even more things than I had imagined four months prior.

I now heavily advocate for students to study abroad by setting up information tables on my college campus, promotion through daily conversation, as well as voluntary presentations to local middle schools about the importance of studying abroad and learning another language. If someone asked me about my time in Costa Rica, I would ask them why they weren't already signing up. To determine whether my time abroad could be reproduced in an equally positive manner, I'm now currently enrolled to study for five months at Universidad Catolica de Valencia in Valencia Spain with ISA for my coming Spring 2015 semester. I'm still counting the number of doors that this journey has opened for me, as I now have tentative plans to teach English in Colombia after I graduate as one example. Keep it relaxed, y viva la pura vida, mis amigos.

What would you improve about this program?
Perhaps hiring a third faculty member to devote their time to tutoring for API students due to the complicated schedules of Francy and Esteban.

A greater selection of Health/Science Courses would also attract more students! This is the only reason I'm now using a different provider for my next study abroad adventure!
87 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The space between choice and chance.

Although living abroad was at the top of my priorities in life when I arrived in Costa Rica, I never once took it seriously. I felt it was more of an obligation to my travelself than the student in me. If it was going to happen, it would unfold organically, as part of my travel experience, and not something I was going to go out of my way for.

I arrived in Costa Rica more than a week before the semester began - to get a scope of the area, the culture, and the language. I had absolutely no Spanish in my arsenal (which should never stop anyone from going anywhere), and wanted some first-hand stories before the inevitable Orientation, where we'd be equally fresh meat to be cleaved. Within days I was staying with a local on the rural Caribbean coast. It would shape the rest of my experience in Central America, which went far beyond a semester in San Jose.

The host family was for the most part wonderful, and in that neighborhood I have friends whom I've gone back to visit long after school was out. Be careful of the maids, however. My first few days in the home of my hosts, more than a little bit of plata - cash - went missing. It showed up later, after a diplomatic inquiry, in a very peculiar spot.

It would behoove the student to be clear with what they wish to eat while living with their host families. Usually one will end up with traditional Tico fare - rice and beans with meat or fish, and occasionally plantanos - friend plantains, which are very popular (and for good reason). However, there are subtleties that go misunderstood sometimes, such as the idea that if something has a US American label or stigma attached to it, that all people from that place love and consume it. Coffee is a perfect example: Costa Rica produces arguably the best coffee in the world (I didn't drink it until I moved there, so delicious and rich is it), yet ticos may go out of the way to buy Folgers Instant coffee (at far greater expense than the higher quality local stuff) because they may think their students may prefer it. As a result of such confusion, for weeks my roommates and I were subject to hot dogs and Fruit Loops for breakfast, which is not good for vegetarians about to spend four hours in an intensive Spanish course (sugar crashes at 10 a.m. sharp). We first thought it rude to revise our wanted menus - do not make this mistake.

Also, another important note is that the families are being paid relatively good money to take care of you, and some entrepreneurial folks do student housing for only that reason. On more than one occasion friends of mine (including a roommate of mine) left the originally-assigned host home for one that suited them better. Do not hesitate to ask for this if you want it.

The API program directors, Esteban and Francy, were consistently available if not present, and communication was not a problem. Over the course of the semester, however, some of the other students in my program and I discussed issues with how the money was handled by API; for example, on 'mandatory' trips (which were understood to be 'all expenses paid' by our program fees), we were obligated to pay for meals, even those we all ate together on the way to our destination.

None of us thought this fair, as we felt that if the trip was mandatory and we'd already paid for transport and accommodations, why were meals not included? Freedom of choice was one reason given, which was valid, but in this case a per diem would have provided for that and alleviated some negative feelings.

One essential piece of information which needed to be more clear upon class signups was how the credit distribution works: in my case, I was under the impression that when I signed up for a Spanish class, I would be in the class for the duration of the semester. It turned out to be a one-month intensive class, followed by a month-and-a-half of the elective classes I signed up as auxiliaries.

As a result, when the uni class ended, I signed up for a local language course in my neighborhood. It was perhaps the best decision I made in San Jose - a direct injection into the local culture. It was exactly what I was looking for in my semester of study abroad, and it had very little to do with university at all. Not having read the fine print before my trip made my experience the richer.

My experience in Costa Rica was unique to the lot of them, and saw myself as a special case there - I was 25 and had just started university. Many of those I met were about to graduate, and barely old enough to drink in the States. In theory, it does not sound unreasonable - I wasn't the oldest student there by any means - but it made connections more difficult and tenuous. I was well past my party-all-night days (unlike, for example, my roommate, who saw our apartment next to the host home as the perfect place to host parties), and found the opportunity to integrate into the local culture rather than the imported one as less a challenge than escape.

With regards to safety, one must understand that San Jose is not an inherently safe, or particularly friendly, place. The people are generally kind, but the city dulls its beauty with fear, and bears a sad amount of 'security' gates and guards. There are graffiti stencils everywhere around the city that read 'Imaginate San Jose Sin Rejas.' Imagine San Jose without bars. Give it a shot, but be careful where you walk. And, a small piece of advice: don't walk into Barrio Cristo Rey, especially with a backpack full of valuables. You might walk out of the neighborhood with your life, but not with your stuff. To the adventurous who might read and think 'exaggeration', try it. Go ahead.

There were beautiful aspects of my study abroad experience, while others decidedly less so. Many of the former had little to do with the program directly, but would not have happened were it not for every element, including my choice to go with API, falling into place like it did. Such as in travel, and life.

Would I recommend this program to a friend? I would mention it to them. I would tell them what I knew about it, and suggest they look at all of their options. I arrived in Costa Rica because I spun a globe and my finger landed near its Caribbean coast. An API brochure just happened to have Costa Rica listed in it. If I had done more research, perhaps I could have found something more preferable - I heard both positive and negative reviews of other programs, and in my opinion, API's features fell somewhere in the middle. But I didn't, ended up where I did, and given the chance to do it again, I would without hesitation.

84 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Living in the Rainforest

The main thing I'd change was how our excursions were run. One trip we took to Tortuguero and stayed at an ecotourism hostel...which included poisonous snakes and frogs and mosquitos that were impossible to keep out of the rooms. I have no problem with camping, but that was a stretch for me. I did not feel safe there and ended up with hundreds of sand flea bites that took months to completely go away.

Other than that, the program itself was awesome. All the other excursions around the country were beautiful and an amazing learning experience. My host family was great and their cooking was to die for. I'm still in contact with them, and API did a perfect job of matching me with such a patient family as my Spanish was quite shaky.

82 people found this review helpful.
Response from API

Thank you for your honest input. We value and welcome constructive criticism of our programs and offerings, and appreciate your opinions. It is worth noting that the particular excursion in question was not offered to API/UCR students but rather another group, and has been discontinued.

Questions & Answers

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