Costa Rica: Heredia - Spanish Language, Ecological, and Latin American Studies

COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, USAC has decided to offer flexible booking options for some of their upcoming programs. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.

Video and Photos

Heredia and the greater San José area from a hike to Volcán Barva
My host family signing my CR flag. My most precious souvenir.
First trip to the beach with these fine gentlemen out in front of our hostel

About

Study abroad next summer, semester or academic year with USAC in Heredia, Costa Rica. All USAC courses during the Spanish, Ecological and Latin American Studies program are taken at the National University of Costa Rica. Needless to say, Spanish language and literature, as well as ecology and Latin American studies dominate the course options.

Highlights
  • Explore the cultural, historic, and urban highlights of the capital city, San José; visit the Pacific Ocean, Caribbean, and Bocas del Toro, Panama; and participate in a field study to Cuba.
  • Join clubs, organizations, and volunteer activities within the university community, all of which will help you practice your Spanish by spending time with Costa Rican students.
  • Enrich your cross-cultural experience through internships, field studies, and volunteer opportunities in the local community.
  • Practice your Spanish by spending time with local students.
  • Discover other parts of Costa Rica and neighboring countries on the optional tours.

Summer Virtual Internships & Online Classes are Here!

Let USAC bring the world to you through our new online Global Perspectives Program where you can gain an international perspective and develop intercultural experience through online courses and virtual internships. Students who complete a USAC Global Perspectives Program during Summer 2020 are eligible for a discount on future USAC programs.

Scholarships

USAC Scholarships
USAC Scholarships and Financial Aid

USAC awards over $2 million in scholarships and discounts each year to assist students with their study abroad expenses.

Value
$500 - $1,000

Questions & Answers

Reviews

9.33 Rating
based on 24 reviews
  • Academics 8.2
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.4
  • Housing 9.5
  • Safety 8.7
Showing 1 - 8 of 24
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Elizabeth
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Heredia, Costa Rica - My 3 Week Home

I wish my time in Costa Rica could have been longer. I loved getting to know my host family and learning to speak Spanish more fluently with them (I accidentally told my host mom that my brothers died from cat allergies instead of that they are deathly allergic to cats). My professor made course work fun and applicable to everything I was doing while in Heredia. During my three weeks, I felt that I became part of the community in Heredia. I knew the city and walked it’s streets as someone who lived there (even though I got lost many times). The markets were filled with experiences - new food, fruits, spices, souvenirs, art, and more. I learned to dance several typical Spanish dances and practiced them at bars and dance events around the city. I was able to travel with friends and my USAC group to different areas of the country on the weekend to explore the culture and biodiversity. This experience for me improved my Spanish tenfold, introduced me to beautiful locations and wonderful people, introduced me to new culture that made me also reflect on my own, developed a community for me of friends and mentors who supported my growth and I am still in contact with today! I love Heredia, Costa Rica - my home of 3 weeks.

What was your funniest moment?
I was talking to my Mama Tica about allergies and my two brothers who are very allergic to cats (she had a cat and I love them), and I accidentally told her they died from cat allergies instead of that they are deathly allergic. She seemed very concerned, and it was really funny.
Default avatar
David
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

What an adventure!

Completing this academically intensive program that lasted for 10 months was one of my life's crowning achievements and first successes along with my military service as an officer.

I don't think there is any other study abroad country where one can advance as quickly in Spanish as USAC's program in Costa Rica. I took an equivalent of 3 years of university level Spanish in 1 year. The professors and administrative staff were the warmest and most supportive people i've ever encoutered anywhere in the world and our committed to every student's success which falls nothing short of accompanying me to doctor's appointments or meeting me outside of school to tutor me. No hubiera podido hacer este programa con éxito sin su apoyo! Which means roughly "I would not have been able to do this program successfully without their support" to demonstrate the uses of haber which fallows a participio.

Though there are also many ery fun scheduled group activities as well where you can cultivate lifelong frienships and great memories.

I would recommend anyone to study abroad if they have the chance and if they are interested in learning Spanish and about Latin America I would put the USAC Heredia program on the top of the list!

Kayla Johnson
Kayla
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica. Just Do It.

I spent my junior year of college in Heredia, Costa Rica (2016-2017) and after two host families, countless hostiles, and one apartment I returned to the states without regrets.
At the beginning of my study abroad program search I knew that I wanted to be in a Spanish speaking country but the only Spanish I knew started and ended at "Hola." Sad, I know but I was semi determined to actually using my Doulingo app during the summer leading up to my trip, which got me to introductions and colors.
Price and location came next but my heart was sold on Costa Rica after watching the hundreds of travel videos on YouTube. I couldn’t believe how picturesque it seemed and I wanted to see for myself. Most people would probably just book a long weekend but no, I dedicate a full academic year to this hunch.
After spending roughly nine months in Costa Rica I can wholeheartedly say over and over again that the country lived up to its picturesque moments with so much more than I could have ever imagine.
This trip changed my life in the most cheesy and redundant way and I owe it all to the beautiful people I met along the way, my program advisors, my squad, y yo, Kayla.

Lauren
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Heredia has my Heart

Spending a semester in Heredia, Costa Rica with USAC was one of the best decisions I have ever made! From the first day that I landed at the airport to the day that I left, USAC staff and my host family made me feel safe, welcome, and cared for on a personal level. The country itself welcomed me as I explored beaches, waterfalls, jungles and volcanoes. I made lifelong friends and a lifetime of memories. I am so thankful to USAC staff for guiding me, teaching me, and ensuring that I enjoyed my stay. I am also immensely thankful for my host family who made the best comida and gave me a home away from home. I would not trade my time in Costa Rica for anything, and I hope to experience the Pura Vida lifestyle again very soon.

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Kelsey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This Was the Best Experience of My Life

This was life-changing! I changed as a person and now am planning to return to Latin America to work after graduating from my university. I have already recommended to one friend and would wholeheartedly recommend it again. The program has so many enriching programs that allow travel and have excellent internships available. I was able to get an internship translating and researching, and I was also able to teach English volunteering. There are programs to allow for connecting with local people and practice Spanish and cultural exchange, and the housing is accommodating for any and all dietary needs. I learned a lot about other cultures, myself, and the Spanish language, and I grew exponentially as a person. I also recommended the program to a friend, who then also attended USAC in Heredia, and we still talk about what an amazing experience it was.

Analicia
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Summer in Heredia

My experience studying abroad in Heredia was incredible, and my only regret is that I wasn't able to stay longer. As a Spanish minor and someone with a goal to become fluent in Spanish, this program was very effective in pushing me from barely a beginner to proficient / conversational in two months. My host family was amazing as well - I was vegan while in Costa Rica and my host mom was so accommodating. The field trips outside of Heredia were another highlight for me. Manuel Antonio and Puerto Viejo were my favorite - so much to explore in this tiny country! I am also an avid animal and nature lover, and CR is so gorgeous and full of life in that aspect as well. My top tips for this program are: 1) stay as long as possible! 2) Dive into Spanish and stay away from English as much as you can while you're there. 3) If you can, opt in for as many of the optional field trips as possible - see as much as you can!

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing I can think of is providing clearer maps and guides to public transportation. For someone who had never been to CR before, navigating the bus lines in Spanish while trying to get somewhere outside Heredia was a bit terrifying. It's all part of the experience though!
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Tiffany
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best 9 weeks of my life

I had already traveled to 6 countries before heading down to CR for 9 weeks, so I expected everything to be smooth sailing. When I ended up with some serious culture shock and homesickness, the USAC office members were always there to chat. I learned so much about the world and had so much fun on the included field trips. The classes I took were spanish language courses and a dance class. The dance class was obviously very fun and light hearted, but the Spanish classes were intense. I learned more spanish in 9 weeks of courses at UNA and from my host family then I did in 2 years in the US. Living with a host family was a highlight of my trip, although I had to switch halfway through. Some of the homes are really far from the city center and the school. I had a much different (and I’d say better) experience when I lived a 15-20 minute walk from everything versus one hour.

What would you improve about this program?
The housing situation, I wish all the homes could be reasonably close to where students can actually walk.
Default avatar
Adam
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

USAC Heredia is an outstanding program

This program is phenomenal. Carlitos, Steven, Natalie, and the other staff members at the USAC office or at UNA (the host university) are amazing. They are so well organized, plan a plethora of trips and activities, and are genuinely caring people. They help out a ton with academic and visa stuff so you barely have to worry about annoying transcript or visa paperwork. The teachers are charismatic and incredibly personable. The campus here is gorgeous as well. The atmosphere of Heredia is lively (there are tons of college aged people) and the city is relatively clean and safe compared to most of Central America. I had such a transformative experience interacting with my host family, engaging in the community, learning and improving my Spanish, as well as gaining livelong friends and allies. Ten out of ten would recommend this program. I will be returning soon!

What would you improve about this program?
I honestly thought the program was so well refined, but if I had to make a suggestion it would be to increase the difficulty of the classes and not allow the students to skirt by speaking as much English. Force them to immerse in the language more by not speaking as much english with them.