• Costa Rica
    • Heredia
Academic Year, Fall, Spring
Subject Areas
Cultural Studies History Latin American Studies Literature Sociology
Need-based funding, Merit-based funding, General grants/scholarships, Payment plans
Health & Safety

Program Details

Program Type
Degree Level
Host Family


Starting Price
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Airport Transfers Classes Some Meals Travel Insurance Wifi
Oct 30, 2023
May 12, 2020
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About Program

Combine an interest in teaching or the environment with aspirations to take your Spanish skills to the next level in Central America. Heredia offers top-ranked academics—and a small-city feel that makes it easy to join the community. With spectacular beaches and waterfalls an easy bus ride away, adventure is a great weekend option.

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Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 7 reviews
  • 5 rating 100%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Academics 4.15
  • Support 4.75
  • Fun 5
  • Housing 4.6
  • Safety 4.45
Showing 1 - 7 of 7 reviews
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Yes, I recommend this program

IFSA Costa Rica-Finding the Pura Vida experience

Pura Vida- meaning pure life, is a popular slogan in Costa Rica which reflects the easy going and relaxed nature of the country.
This program was absolutely amazing. I felt I got to have a challenging academic experience at the Universidad Nacional as well as explore the Pura Vida side of Costa Rica. The direct enrollment lets you choose from a variety of classes. My program friends took classes that ranged from computer science, biology, gender studies, film, music, and psychology. The IFSA team also has connections to local programs if you are interested in volunteering at schools, vet offices, etc. They truly have the most wonderful staff who will go above and beyond to make your experience meaningful. You can fill the weekends traveling around the country (transportation is cheap and effective!), spending time with your host family, or exploring the city life in San José (be careful of pickpockets and thieves though). Overall however, it is a safe, peaceful country with kind, easygoing people.

Any concerns- As many Latin American countries, there is a culture of machismo which can result in a catcalling from men, but if you are logically cautious, it is not a problem.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
-Get yourself a good fanny pack- much more difficult to steal, and much easier to carry than purse.
-Do not flash wealth in busy places (lots of cash, a fancy purse), as there are unfortunately pickpocketers in the cities.
-Invest in a good lock (can be used for backpacks or suitcases), a sturdy backpack, portable charger, and a microfiber towel
-Protect your PHONE- This is so important because many travellers don't think about this. Take it out ONLY when you need to. In the middle of San Jose, I had my phone out in my hand looking at google maps. Someone pushed me from behind and grabbed it from my hands (I managed to get it back). Do NOT put it in your backpocket as my friend had her phone stolen from her like this.
80 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The semester of a lifetime!

I was a part of the IFSA program at UNA from July 14 to November 14 of 2017. I honestly could not have asked for a better experience. The support offered by the program is phenomenal. There are three full time staff members dedicated solely to this exchange program at the University, and they honestly care about your well being and how you are handling both the cultural and academic pressures of being abroad. You get to know them very well as they are heavily involved in the program, the program director was pretty much a father figure to all of us! The classes at the University are challenging but very manageable in both requirements and time commitment. The host families used by the program are screened intensively, and if a student has a bad experience with one they are not used for the program again. My host family was absolutely lovely and really made me feel like a part of they family, including me in trips and family events such as Mother's Day! It has been almost a year now and we still keep in constant contact and I am planning a visit back to see them! I also had the opportunity to make many local friends who showed me around the city and its nightlife and whom I still keep in touch with! All of this is in addition to being able to explore all that Costa Rica had to offer, I was able to visit a new town or park almost every weekend! The program itself also runs a few trips to help show you the country! Not to mention, that through the total immersion offered by the program my Spanish got a 100 % better! I can legitimately call myself fluent now! Honestly, it was the semester of a lifetime and an experience I will definitely never forget.

What would you improve about this program?
A few more program run trips may have been nice but there are still plenty of ways to travel on your own!
94 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Great place to study abroad if you're a person of color

Costa Rica is a really diverse place and I felt like it is a good place to go if you're a person of color because you blend in and the students at the National University are super friendly. I'm also latinx, and there was a lot of camraderie between me and the local students when we found common ground. The UNA is also known for having a lot of international exchange students so they have a great sense on how to make accomodations for you whether it be through IFSA or the greater university as a whole.

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

Four Months of Beauty

The staff of IFSA Butler in Costa Rica was incredible. They supported me 24/7. They even offered free tutoring, which was great because we were learning and taking classes in a different language. The staff helped with getting packages, directions, culture shock, and even found us a dance teacher because we wanted to learn how to do latin dances.
The country itself was absolutely beautiful. While Heredia has a lot of litter, Costa Rica is a country of national parks and reserves, and it didn't take long to get someplace beautiful. Beaches, mountains, volcanoes, and wildlife refuges- this program has it all.

What would you improve about this program?
More communication before the program starts about what the orientation will be- we had no idea and were very surprised because the orientation stated on the website was not where we went for ours.
83 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

IFSA Butler Universidad Nacional

I spent my fall semester abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica on the IFSA Butler study abroad program at La Universidad Nacional. The program went from July 14 - Nov 14, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I would highly recommend studying abroad as an exploratory experience to all college students. You will find adventure, new friends, and learn so much along the way. IFSA, specifically, does a great job of facilitating this experience of studying abroad. The abroad team is extremely knowledgeable, and they make it their jobs to be available to you for any help you may need. They made learning a language in a new country an thrilling challenge. The homestay they organized was great, and they even organized several trips for the students on our program to explore different parts of the country (the trips are great, I would recommend not missing out on them). Overall, 10/10 experience. I would recommend it to anyone.

What would you improve about this program?
The University is located in an urban center. You will not be studying in a jungle or near a beach. This wasn't made completely clear to me before going. There are mountains in the area, but you are predominantly surrounded by buildings in a developed area. Just be aware of this before going.
81 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

All in One

I love the beach, but every once in awhile, I enjoy an adventure deeper in nature. While my main goal of studying abroad was to learn Spanish, going to Costa Rica also gave me the aspect of exploration that I craved from a study abroad experience. Furthermore, IFSA allowed me to enroll in courses with Costa Ricans, fully expanding my opportunity to immerse. This aspect alone makes IFSA stand out from other programs, and I'm fully aware of how incredible it was to study abroad in such a unique situation. I received personal attention from the IFSA staff to ensure my experience was going smoothly. Any bumps along the road were handled in a timely and professional manner.

The field trips included in the program price were so fun. From chocolate tours and whitewater rafting to hiking through the rainforest to the beach, the times spent with the group both strengthened the bond of the group and our knowledge of the country.

Within the program, there are “Amigos Ticos”, Costa Rican students from the same University who help you get situated during orientation and show you the lifestyle of a true tico. Having these students made settling into the semester much easier.

Overall, I was very pleased with my time in Costa Rica. I feel as if IFSA Butler deserves a lot of credit for making it all possible.

What would you improve about this program?
If I had to change one thing about the program, it would be the 15 credit minimum requirement. Keeping up with ~5 courses as an international student can be rather challenging.
95 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

100% Would recommend

I picked this program because I wanted to be able to practice Spanish and become immersed in another cultures and this program let me do just that. The program staff were always warm and welcoming and my host family was truly amazing. Travel in Costa Rica is cheap so I was able to travel to all parts of the country and see national parks, beaches, and cultural sites. It was truly a wonderful experience, I've made friends for life, and I highly recommend it!

What would you improve about this program?
More program trips! A lot of the places we went with the program were places that would have been very difficult to get to ourselves so it would've been great if the program could have sponsored more of these trips for us.
92 people found this review helpful.
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