USAC Costa Rica: San Ramón
99% Rating
(7 Reviews)

USAC Costa Rica: San Ramón

USAC invites students interested in pursuing health, ecology, and conservation biology studies to come study abroad at the Sede de Occidente campus in San Ramón at the University of Costa Rica. The Life Sciences, Spanish and Culture Studies program is offered for the summer, semester or full academic year term. Looking to hear the rest of the details? Then consult the USAC website right now!

  • Study upper division science or honors courses in an ideal location for ecology, biology, and health sciences, in small groups with field experience
  • Participate in independent research, internships, or volunteer in field-related institutions
  • Get hands-on experiential learning about local flora and fauna in field study courses
  • Explore interesting, beautiful areas of Costa Rica on field trips
  • Enjoy a small town atmosphere with easy access to the cultural, historic, and urban highlights of San José, and to the Pacific coast
San Ramón
Program Type
Subject Areas
Cultural Studies
Food Science and Nutrition
Health Sciences
Latin American Studies
Academic Year
Host Family
Online Application
Visa Requirement

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

based on 7 reviews
  • Academics 8.4
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.9
  • Housing 9.6
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 1 - 7 of 7
Default avatar

Pura Vida por Vida

You prepare yourself for all sorts of experiences as you get older: going to high school, to college, moving into your first apartment, but nothing really prepares you for the number of ways you grow as you study abroad. You learn how to be independent, mindful, curious, all while having an amazing time in a country that was more beautiful than you could've imagined through pictures. The homestay was definitely one of the best parts of my journey, and would recommend that anyone going to San Ramon take advantage of this. Not only is it more affordable, and easier than trying to find your own housing, but it introduces you to new foods, culture, ways of life, and a language that you really have no choice but to grasp by the end of your stay. Ticos are wonderful, accommodating people who really want to help you. The local food is different and wonderful, and the street art itself could take an entire day to find and admire. When you do leave your cozy little town to adventure, there's so much more than you could imagine. There's the vibe of the Carribean coast, or Manuel Antonio National Park, Rio Celeste waterfall, or beautiful beach towns in Santa Teresa or Montezuma. There's snorkeling, and ziplining through the cloud forests of Monteverde. All experiences were different, but equally wonderful. The USAC staff is very helpful, and very accommodating during your journey. They understand the concerns a student (or student's parents) may have while abroad, and they meet those needs promptly, while still assuring that the student remains independent and curious. The classes are immersive, and I visited some of the coolest places during my field study courses, such as the Alberto Brenes Wildlife Reserve. They also plan excursions, such as La Isla Tortuga, and an optional trip to Manuel Antonio, which was unbelievably gorgeous, and fun! But honestly, there really is not way you can go wrong, wherever you decide to go during your stay in Costa Rica. It's a beautiful, exciting ride from start to finish.

How can this program be improved?

I really can't think of any way this could be improved. Maybe more clear instructions on airport pickup? But we figured it out.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar

Tico Me Pink

I studied abroad in Costa Rica the summer after my sophomore year of college for the first summer session of 2016. I was attracted to the location because it incorporated a lot of environmental science, which is my major. One of my favorite classes I took was called Food Forever, which was taught by a visiting professor. We took a trip to a coffee farm and I learned so much about tropical agriculture. By the end of the course I could spot coffee, cacao, sugar cane, and so much more. It was also really interesting to learn about Costa Rica's exports, like coffee, bananas, cacao, etc. I wish I would have stayed longer than six weeks, but I traveled on the weekends with other students to Manuel Antonio, Santa Teresa, and Monte Verde, where I bungee jumped into a valley. After the session ended, I spent an extra week traveling the Caribbean side of the country starting in Tortuguero and ending in Puerto Viejo! I would suggest traveling as much as you can around the country and maybe even popping into some neighboring countries as well! There is a lot to see in Costa Rica, and a lot to eat too! I lived with a homestay family, and you will too if you study abroad through this program (which you should!!). My Tico family was just a woman and her son and there fluffy cat Hans. They spoke no English, so I had to learn quickly how to communicate (I was in no way fluent before I left!). While it was challenging, it was so worth it and my Spanish improved immensely during the trip. My favorite part of living with my Tico family was my Mama Tica's cooking. Wow! Gallo pinto with avocado and eggs at breakfast, freshly made tortillas for lunch and cheesy potato cakes at dinner... there was never a dull moment for my mouth (or at all really)! I loved my time in Costa Rica and I was so happy I chose USAC's program! I met great people both in San Ramon (including other USAC students that I still keep in contact with) and while traveling around the country! I would recommend going to Costa Rica even if you don't go there while studying abroad because the life style is so laid back and calm. While I was there I ate, I traveled, I learned Spanish, I basked in the sun, and I lived life to the fullest. Pura vida, baby!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar

Best. Experience. Ever

There are really no words to describe an experience like this. USAC was an incredible program. They set up everything from classes to home-stay. All I had to do was go there and experience an adventure of a life time. The classes were always interesting. Got to learn from a local professor. The science classes that I took came with an awesome field study. USAC also had planned weekend field trips that were always very fun. I would recommend this to any one!

How can this program be improved?

Sometimes the field trips felt a little unorganized, but still very fun. They've really perfected this program.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar

I left my heart in San Ramon

Studying abroad for a semester was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and doing it in San Ramon only enhanced my experience. Costa Rica is a teeny tiny country which means it is very easy to travel through! A 7 hour bus ride places you across the length of the country in warm oceans among laid back locals, while another coast is an easy hour bus ride away and offers great surf and camping options.

San Ramon offers a great climate (particularly in the Spring semester) with lots of friendly people. Many people don't speak English, so the opportunity to practice Spanish is very available. The staff is extremely available and helpful to the students, and all of the students in my program were very happy with their families they lived with. The classes that I took in Spanish language, literature, and culture were all fantastic, and the marine biology class allowed me to go on two snorkeling trips. The most fun classes were definitely the cooking and dancing classes. I also had the opportunity to volunteer at a preschool and teach English which was amazing.

My family introduced me to loads of different foods (especially fruit!!), taught me how to make tamales, told me loads of stories, and even celebrated my birthday with me. Over Spring break I was able to travel to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. All of the travel trips set up by USAC were fantastic, I would highly recommend them!

Make sure to visit Las Musas, a secret San Ramon destination ;)

How can this program be improved?


Yes, I recommend
Default avatar

Pura Vida

I loved this program! I had so much help from USAC before I went so I wasn't nervous at all. They walked me thorough the whole process. Once I got to Costa Rica I met my host family and the USAC staff and they were so welcoming and friendly and made me feel right at home.

As a plant science major and Spanish minor, this program had perfect classes for me to take. My favorite were the field studies that I took alongside my bio courses. We got to go out into the forests and jungles and do a lot of hands on learning.

I loved everything about this program and highly recommend it!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar

San Ramon

The best part about the San Ramon program is San Ramon. If you really are interested in learning a new language San Ramon is the place to study. There are few English speakers in town so you are really forced to practice your Spanish. It's a cute city that is small enough to navigate by feet but still large enough to get lost. There is hardly any American influence at all. San Ramon is about as tico as it gets.

How can this program be improved?

The program could be improved if the USAC students were able to use more of the University or take classes with native speakers. USAC students had their own little space of classrooms away from the ticos and we were not able to use the University wifi. I think having classes with or even near the native students would be beneficial rather than having all the USAC students huddled in one area not interacting with the natives.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar

Big-Time Experience, Small-Town Feel

I could easily say studying abroad was one of the greatest experiences of my life. It taught me about cultural acceptance, how to speak another language, dealing with different types of people, how to get out of and stay out of my comfort zone, and much more. San Ramon is an excellent, out-of-the-way location with a very small-town and community feel to it. Non-locals are few and far between, whereas the locals are very accepting of us and willing to show us their language and culture. The classes were not so difficult that I spent all of my time stuck in my bedroom studying, but plenty challenging enough to give me a broad depth of the topic and language. We still had plenty of time to go travel on the weekends to the far reaches of the Costa Rican countryside and attractions.

USAC was also very accommodating for housing, classes, and any problem that arose. The on-site staff were only a phone-call or a short walk away to help answer or solve any problems that came up, from medical problems to helping book a hostel. I also had an internship in the hospital with the local orthopedic surgeon, and was able to experience many surgeries as well as how the Costa Rican healthcare system truly works. I strongly recommend an internship. I also was able to take 3 upper division biology classes (9 credits) plus some language while abroad. You won't set yourself behind by studying abroad.

Just a few recommendations: 1. Do not bring too many clothes; 2. Bring only what you would wear at home. If you wouldn't wear it at home, you will not wear it abroad; 3. BRING EXTRA SUNSCREEN. The sunscreen is very mediocre over there and is very, very expensive. Bring enough for your travels; 4. Don't be afraid to travel on your own! Get a travel backpack, throw in a couple shirts, pants, socks, and underwear, and get on the road! You will see so many things and meet so many incredible people; 5. Be free and have fun!

How can this program be improved?

I wish I would have been able to talk to someone before-hand about what to bring (i.e. extra sunscreen and not too many clothes). USAC gives you a list, but I had more questions (I guess I could have emailed USAC, but I didn't think of that.) Also, although the optional field study was a good representation of the culture (as it was supposed to) and you did get your money's worth, it was very expensive. I feel as though I could have taken that same amount of money and be able to travel on my own for much longer period of time. Also, see my recommendations in the review section.

Yes, I recommend

About USAC

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...