USAC Costa Rica: Heredia

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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
  • Enjoy easy access to the cultural, historic, and urban highlights of the capital city, San José, and to the Pacific Ocean
  • Explore interesting and beautiful areas of Costa Rica on field trips
  • Participate in clubs and organizations at the university
  • Practice your Spanish by spending time with local students
  • Discover other parts of Costa Rica and neighboring countries on the optional tours

Questions & Answers

Reviews

93%
based on 21 reviews
  • Academics 8.1
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.3
  • Housing 9.5
  • Safety 8.6
Showing 16 - 21 of 21
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Ben
10/10

Pure Life

Pura Vida! It means pure life and is what Costa Rica is all about! A very laid back culture where education and personal relationships are valued; Heredia, Costa Rica creates a fun and memorable environment. From day to day experiences with your host family such as eating meals, traveling to beautiful local parks and volcanos, and just talking about your different cultures, Heredia provides an opportunity for students to not only learn in the classroom but in all aspects of the 4 month experience.

Many students travel on the weekends as beautiful beaches and towns are all a fairly short bus ride away. An average weekday will probably consist of eating meals with your family, heading to the public university in the city center to take a few classes and spending time with locals (Ticos) as well as making American friends in your program. There are always opportunities to speak Spanish with your host family as many families have very limited knowledge and exposure to English. And since almost all the classes are taught in Spanish, you will leave Costa Rica much more confident in your Spanish language skills.

Classes are taken with other American students who are in your program but all of the classes are taught by local professors who challenge you to only speak Spanish and to work hard to improve all aspects of the language. If you are looking to make memories, improve your Spanish, and spend a considerable amount of time enjoying another culture, then Heredia, Costa Rica with USAC is the place to go!

How can this program be improved?
I think the safety of the students is the only area that could be improved. I think there needed to be more orientation to the potential dangers of the area, perhaps with a short video advising for specific safety precautions for students to take. There were a few times when some students put themselves in very precarious situations.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Yasmeen
10/10

I came back a different person!

Studying in Costa Rica was perhaps one of the most life changing experiences in my life. One of my favorite aspects was living with a host family! I became really close with my host mom and dad and my host sister. I also went to their family gatherings, and my family always made sure to include me! I loved to ask my host mom for cooking tips so I could make the same food back at home. One time she let me make fried plantains with her!

I also had the opportunity to volunteer in an orphanage. I loved the chance to be completely immersed in the Spanish language. The kids didn't know any English, so I taught them a few words. They would burst into laughter because the words sounded so funny to them! I saw a real side of Costa Rica, which I wouldn't have seen otherwise.

The Spanish language classes were also amazing. I had a highly qualified teacher, and I learned more than I have in any other Spanish class!

For anyone who truly wants to experience a new culture, I would recommend Heredia, Costa Rica. The combined host family and optional volunteer experience will give you a true taste of another country. I know you won't regret it!

How can this program be improved?
Perhaps more group activities? Overall I loved the program though!
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Haley
10/10

Life changing experience you won't regret!

I had an incredible time in Heredia and there's not much I would change! The usac staff at UNA and the other sites in CR are so supportive and will help you with anything you need. Definitely take advantage of any travel opportunity you can get, especially week long trips at the beginning/end of program. My host family experience was great, I loved my house and neighborhood even though it required a short bus ride to school each day. You will make amazing, lifelong friendships and be prepared for extreme reverse culture shock/ homesickness when you return to the states. The pura vida lifestyle will change you for sure!

How can this program be improved?
For a summer program it was a bit harder to make local friends and connect with my host family. For example, I wasn't matched with a conversation partner until 1 week before the end of the program and only got to meet with her once. I would suggest usac provide more social activities to bridge that gap and it will also help with language skills.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Haley
10/10

Pura vida!

The reason USAC excelled in making my study abroad experience one to remember is because they combined unique experiences, with plenty of assistance (if necessary) at a low cost. I lived in a city I probably never would have visited and they took us on field trips I never would have found on my own. This enriched the whole experience for me. On top of that, the Resident Director Carlitos was there for me whenever we needed him. He showed us how to use the bus system, cultural nuances we should be aware of, best places for the night life, bet beaches to visit, and he even threw a going away party at his own house! From relationship problems, to school troubles, no one was a better problem solver than him. On top of all this, it was affordable. I'm a college student. My meals consist of oatmeal and free pizza from club meetings. I was ecstatic to find a program that was flexible, helpful, included field trips, and cheap. So grateful to USAC for the fantastic semester and all the assistance I received along the way!

How can this program be improved?
I wish I had stayed longer! And that I had started sooner on my visa. No issues with the program
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Kyra
9/10

My Home Away From Home

Having to leave Heredia, Costa Rica after a semester was incredibly difficult. This "city of flowers" became like a second home to me in ways I could have never imagined. I was fortunate to study through USAC, who was helpful in arranging everything from housing to classes to extracurricular activities and providing support throughout the duration of the program.
A typical day included eating breakfast with my host parents and siblings and then heading to the National University where I took classes in grammar, literature, culture and even Latin American dance. After that, I volunteered in tutoring a blind student in English, which was an incredible opportunity also given to me by the USAC program assistants. I was able to get some studying in at a local cafe and had the evenings free to play soccer, go to concerts, watch movies or just hang out with the family.
Living with a host family was the best way to practice my Spanish as they invited me to family functions, and I was constantly forced to converse in the language. They took such good care of me, and again it was difficult to say goodbye. They have plans though to come visit me next summer, which I would absolutely love.
Studying abroad through USAC is something I would highly recommend. It was one of the more affordable options and the staff is extremely supportive. They were available by phone any time of the day and the office was conveniently located a quick walk away. The central office staff in Reno was quick and happy to answer my questions ranging from financial aid to course selection. I never felt like a bother with my many emails and confusions.
I would highly recommend studying abroad through USAC and encourage anyone considering Costa Rica to go.

How can this program be improved?
I wish they had provided the students with a clear map and description of the bus system in San José. It took me months to get the hang of it, for things were always changing! However, I suppose the challenges like this are a part of living in a different country.
Also, I wish I had been advised on what to pack better. I ended up investing in some flip-flops, hiking shoes, sunscreen, and bug spray at ridiculous prices. They were all things I should have brought with me!
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Aaron
10/10

Excellent Study Abroad Experience

I had a fabulous time abroad meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, learning a different language, transforming myself, finding out who I was, and much much more. It was a great program. USAC does the best job at making the students feel as though they are at safe and comfortable in their foreign environment. I know my program was not the only one that received glowing reviews! It was the best experience of my life while I was abroad and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

How can this program be improved?
NOTHING! Great trip and excellent program provide. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO USAC!!!!
Yes, I recommend

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USAC is a non-profit consortium of U.S. universities that collaborates to offer affordable, academic and authentic study abroad programs. There are abundant opportunities to immerse in the culture, history, and academics of other countries providing...