CISabroad - Semester in Costa Rica
93% Rating
(8 Reviews)

CISabroad - Semester in Costa Rica

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On our Semester in Costa Rica program, you’ll live minutes from the heart of San José and study at Universidad Veritas. Use this capital city as your launch pad to explore the country’s biodiversity. At the University, you can take courses taught in English or Spanish, ranging from topics like Costa Rican culture to art studies. San José is the perfect place to improve your Spanish, with language classes for beginners to advanced speakers. In your free time, explore nearby volcanoes, venture into the rainforest, hit the beach, and embrace Costa Rican culture in this bustling capital. Pura vida!

San José
Program Type
Subject Areas
Art History
Conservation and Preservation
Cultural Studies
Health Sciences
International Business
Marine Biology
Natural Sciences
Sustainable Development
Visual Arts
Web Design
Degree Level
Academic Year
Host Family
Online Application
Official Transcripts
Price Details
Please visit our website for price and dates details.

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

based on 8 reviews
  • Academics 6.5
  • Support 8.5
  • Fun 8.8
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 8
Showing 1 - 8 of 8
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Pura Vida with CISabroad

I had a great time studying abroad in Costa Rica. San Jose was a good location because it's the capital and you get to see museums and all the history but you are also in a central location to take buses to beaches/other parts of the country. This was my first time going abroad, so it was so helpful to go with a third party program that would coordinate my housing, some meals, academics, some excursions, etc for me. Now that I have travelling experience, if I were to study abroad again I would arrange it myself (do direct exchange instead of a program) to save money. I liked that the program had excursions at the beginning to help you get acquainted to the culture/country. As time goes on, you get more comfortable with travelling and navigating the language/money/culture, and you can plan your own trips. In my last month, I planned a trip to Nicaragua with 3 other girls, and for our week off we booked everything ourselves and traveled all over Costa Rica. Basically, the excursions are expensive but worth it at the beginning, but once you know how to travel you should plan trip with friends to save money plus you get to choose exactly what you want to do. When students got sick, they initially paid for the hospital bill themselves, and were reimbursed later from CISabroad. My pre-departure advisor Jessica was THE BOMB - so helpful and kind and understanding. She checked up on my several times and was SO much more helpful than my school study abroad advisor. I felt taken care of and supported as I prepared to leave the US.

How can this program be improved?

The cost includes a couple excursions, and it would have been good to see a breakdown of the excursion costs (transportation, food, activities, etc). There was one time on an excursion we were supposed to have dinner covered by the program but it was not and the students were never reimbursed.

Yes, I recommend
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The Best Decision You Will Ever Make!

Studying abroad in Costa Rica through CISabroad could be the best decision of your life. It was for me! From the application process all the way through your re-entry to the United States, CIS is there to provide all the support and tools that you need. The site director, Lisa, is one of the most incredible humans ever. She is so kind and helpful, and it's so fun to get to know her. All the professors at Universidad Veritas are so welcoming and want to help you improve your Spanish. If you don't speak Spanish, don't worry! Most people know at least some English, and you will have the opportunity to improve your Spanish skills through conversations with the local people. No one judges you if your Spanish isn't very good (like mine was), they just want to help you learn. Living with a host family is a huge benefit, and you can learn so much from them. There's also a lot of other students from the United States, so you will make a bunch of friends!

On the non-academic side of things, Costa Rica is an absolutely stunning place, with thousands of things to do and see. Some of the highlights of my trip were seeing baby sea turtles hatch in Tortuguero, learning to surf in Tamarindo, and snorkeling in Panama and with my marine biology class. You can visit somewhere new every weekend (which I highly recommend that you do), since you can get to almost anywhere in the country via public transportation in a very short amount of time. Most trips took us less than 6 hours via the public bus system. You can also plan your excursions through the travel agency at Universidad Veritas, named Tico Viajero. They are very accommodating and friendly. The wildlife, beaches, and food spots are endless.

If you're planning on studying abroad in Costa Rica, definitely check out CISabroad. They will walk you through every step and will help make your trip the best of your life!

Yes, I recommend

Study in Costa Rica: A Family Tradition

When my mom was in college, she studied in Costa Rica and absolutely fell in love. Because I had Spanish experience, and because my mom had gone there, I decided it was where I wanted to have my first study abroad experience--and I have absolutely no regrets.

Costa Rica is an amazing country, Universidad Veritas had a great vibe and I had a wonderful instructor for my intensive Spanish class, and my host family was so sweet and considerate. I'm still in touch with my Mama Tica, most of other students in the CISabroad program, and some other Universidad Veritas personnel!

And if you're freaked out about being in a foreign country and not knowing anyone--the CIS onsite support staff are fabulous. I had some housing issues towards the end and the onsite director was very approachable, understanding, and helpful. CIS staff will guide you through every step before you go, and every step during. I fell in love with Costa Rica, its wildlife, natural landscapes and people, just like my mom.

Yes, I recommend
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Me Encanta Costa Rica

Costa Rica with out a doubt is a beautiful and culturally enriched place. During my three and a half months living and studying in Costa Rica, there was not one day that I can say I was bored. The day to day routine of course involves attending class, but the classes I took were very interactive. Our Professors not only made Universidad Veritas our campus but the city that surrounded us. We went on many field trips: to Museums; the Zoo; visited the indigenous Bri Bri tribe; the Basilica de Cartago; Professors' homes where we engaged in group discussion and activities (and received a delicious meal).
After classes there were many activities to partake in. During the evenings on selected days we could participate in dance class (where I learned how to Bachata), cooking class and Tae Kwon Do. We also have the option of becoming a Veritas Ambassador or joining the mentor social group where we had the opportunity to meet local students, hangout and share experiences. The night life in Costa Rica is awesome there's a little hangout spot called Los Professionales (right off the Zapote la pista) where a lot of the students (including myself) like to hangout and unwind and have a all around good time, with great music, foosball, dancing, socializing, and great food. It is a great place to mingle with the international students and nationals that attend the local Universities and vive en el Barrio de Zapote.

On the weekends you pretty much go where the wind takes you, if you decide not purchase any of the excursions that come with your progra- no worries! You can still experience those same activities as others (like myself) did, and you'll probably save yourself some money as well. There are buses that will take you all over. From the Pacific to the Caribbean and back to the mainland. One of my personal favorite places to go is Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. It's off the Caribbean near Puerto Limon. It is not as touristy as Tamarindo, and that's what I like about this city. It has a rich African Caribbean influence and reggae, reggaeton, bachata, salsa, cuban, latin and american music can be heard in almost all of the night clubs. Mangos and Johnny's Place are the favs. Zip lining, hiking, biking, national parks, kayaking, camping, beaches, hostels, etc. are all in abundance in Costa Rica, you should never have a dull moment. If you plan on studying in Costa Rica I would say that during the dry season is the best time to go. Plus, you'll be able to attend the largest Carnival in Central America; Carnival Puntarenas.

Now you don't always have to leave the city to have a great time there are plenty of things to do in the city visiting downtown or central ciudad. The many festivals that take place during the year will keep you plenty busy and you eat plenty of good food. A couple dishes in particular that are native to Costa Rica is Gallo Pinto and Casado (frijoles, arroz, platanos, and su eleccion de carne). If time permits vist restaurante Nuestra Tierra they have awesome traditional and fusion dishes.

City transportation is easy to come by; there are taxis and buses all over. They are muy barto for the most part but taxi's can start to get muy caro depending on how far you are traveling. My advice; learn how to ride the bus, it's super cheap about 25- 35 colones depending on how far you are traveling but usually in that price range. (The most I've paid was about 65 colones which is about a $1.30 in USD and thats because I had to go to Hatillo to get my hair done and to take a taxi would be very costly.)

During vacations, during the holiday of Samana Sanata (the city is pretty much no man's land literally) and school breaks I traveld outside Costa Rica with friends to Panama and Nicaragua. Nicaragua is AMAZING! lots of culture and one of my favorite trips outside the country; and if you think Costa Rica is awesome wait till you see Panama it will blow your mind and they use USD as currency. So, if you do decide to travel outside the country of Costa Rica during your downtime or to renew your tourist visa, I would suggest you visit Granada, Massaya, Managua, or Bluefields in Nicaragua or Bocas Del Toro, Panama City, or David in Panama. Also keep in mind Bocas Del Toro is the probably the closet place to travel, as it is only a 6 hour drive to the border of Costa Rica and Panama and about 35 minute drive to the water taxi port where you will board and take a 45 minute boat ride to the island of Bocas Del Toro.

Moving on to my living experience. My living situation could have been better starting off. My first host mother was not all that great, I would have to say this is the only difficulty I faced and it was solved. My CIS Program Director Lisa P. made sure I was comfortable and found me a more suitable family which was awesome! and whom I still keep in contact with today. Choosing the homestay options was a great choice there are many benefits versus that of living independently.

CIS takes pride in its program and wants everyone to feel welcomed, accepted, and comfortable. You will meet a lot of people from all over and it's your job to get in there, break the ice and make friends-life long friends. I still keep in touch with my friends I met in Costa Rica and I've visited those who stay in different states, and frequently hangout with those who stay near. After it's all said and done, you will be happy with your choice in Choosing the CIS Costa Rica study abroad program. I can go on and on but I don't want to spoil everything for you. I want you to be able to make some discoveries on your own.

Bottom line, if you don't do anything in Costa Rica besides study and stay cooped up in your room (which I highly doubt); make an effort to get out in the city meet new people, mingle with the locales and get immersed in the culture. This is the best way to learn your surroundings, learn Spanish, gain first hand experience of the life people live outside the U.S. in parts of Central America, and learn that life can actually be great outside our nations borders. I can honestly say choosing to study abroad was a life changing experience and one of the best conscious decisions I have made in my life.

Pura Vida and Safe Travels!

Note: If you have your program cost covered and the only thing your really worried about is expenses when you get there. A budget of at least $250 per month (assuming your there for a full four months and your choosing the homestay option) will suffice. A budget of $2000 for four months is more than enough.

How can this program be improved?

The communication process with CIS Study Abroad Advisor, organization of information given leading up to date of departure for program.

Yes, I recommend
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Costa Rica Study Abroad

My Costa Rica experience was perfect with CIS. The program director, Lisa, was always there whenever you needed her and took us on great weekend trips throughout the country. Living in a central location, San Jose, I was able to travel to a different breathtaking destination every weekend!! The school even provided us with weekend field trips to places I would have never have thought to go to, like Ostional, a Lora Turtle reserve in Guanacaste. There I got to see Lora turtles laying eggs and I even saw baby Leatherback Turtles making their first journey into the sea. I would do anything to be back in Costa Rica!

How can this program be improved?

The Spanish classes are not well organized and don't match the way of teaching Spanish in the US. There was a lot of overlap in courses taken in the US and courses taken in Costa Rica.

Yes, I recommend
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This was the best experience I've ever had. I was placed in a very good home. The family tried their best to communicate with me and work with my poor Spanish skills. They helped me when I needed it. The program orientation was helpful because we walked downtown the first day and were able to see some main sites. The classes were pretty easy, but I still was able to learn a lot.

How can this program be improved?

More trips in the middle/end of experience - most were back to back weekends in the beginning.

Yes, I recommend
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If I could go back in time, I would. My expericence was priceless. My host family was beyond wonderful. My host sister would always wake up with a smile and say,"Hola, Jay!" The teaching staff were bright and sunny when you'd return a "saludo" in passing. Yes, classes from 8 am to 12pm for five days a week was a bit tiresome, but worth every minute of my time and effort.
I love, love, love to travel so Costa Rica serves as an ideal location to do that. Transportation is reasonable. I would recommend a Central American trip, I did that, and I had a fabulous time.
Take advantage while you can. Go with CIS or with anyone, to Costa Rica because you will have an amazing experience.

How can this program be improved?

More excursions!!!

Yes, I recommend
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Semester in Costa Rica

My semester abroad was one of the best experiences of my life. We got to travel every weekend while practicing our Spanish. The Spanish teachers at Veritas are awesome but the other elective classes I took weren't hard. My host family was amazing and one of the reasons I had such a great experience.

How can this program be improved?

Have the in-site director more involved and give us an orientation of San Jose the first week.

Yes, I recommend

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