Costa Rica: San Ramón - Life Sciences, Spanish Language, and Culture

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About

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? Explore the USAC website.

Highlights
  • 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.

Preparing to Study Abroad in 2021

We are planning for 2020-21 programs to proceed abroad. Learn more about how we are preparing for our students to enjoy a safe and meaningful experience overseas. You can also find a variety of helpful COVID-19 resources for students and families.

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

Hi Trinity, That will depend on the school you attend and the classes you have to take for your Nursing Major at your school. We recommend meeting with your academic advisor on your campus and your study abroad office to learn exactly how specific classes and credits will transfer back. If you have further questions you can email us at studyabroad@usac.edu Thank you! Sara

Reviews

9.6 Rating
based on 15 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 93.33%
  • 7-8 rating 6.67%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Academics 8.3
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 9.5
  • Housing 9.5
  • Safety 8.9
Showing 1 - 8 of 15
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Brooke
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I Went To Costa Rica and All I Got Was Happy

I'm a pre-med student, and I really recommend the health-based classes and the medical internship. It was very interesting to see the differences between the hospital here and my hospital back home. I made a lot of lifelong friends during this journey and people back home often commented on my photos saying how genuine all my smiles looked. My homestay family was so incredibly sweet and caring. I couldn't have asked for better hosts. I haven't felt this level of happiness in years and I'm proud to say I am taking 1/4 of the antidepressants that I was when I arrived here.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I had never been bungee jumping before and I got peer-pressured into doing the tallest bungee in all of Central America, in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Just jump! You won't regret it!
Default avatar
Mathea
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A new home in San Ramon!

I am so grateful for my time spent in this program in San Ramon, Costa Rica. I had so much help and support from the USAC administration and professors. The classes were only with USAC students, so the intimate setting allowed for a more tightly-knit community as well as one-on-one help from the teachers. I made so many wonderful friends here and had tons of memories in hot springs, waterfalls, sunrises and sunsets, hikes, rainforests, and beaches. Living with a host family that only spoke Spanish challenged me to learn and immerse myself in their way of life, diet, and culture. The weekends were free, so we could go travel around the country during that time. San Ramon is such a homey city to experience Costa Rica! Costa Rica offers so many different climates and ecosystems to explore, which is great for anyone studying life sciences! My campus even had a small forest in the back!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Definitely make sure to bring rain gear! I brought a rain coat, which worked pretty well, but you will still be soaked unless you bring an umbrella. Bug spray and good walking shoes are also crucial! Be ready to walk a lot!
Default avatar
Carly
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

San Ramon, Costa Rica

This program was amazing because of the focus on health care. I had the opportunity to shadow in a hospital and take classes related to medicine and health care. For students interested in other areas, there were also many other classes focusing on biology and ecology. One of the most enjoyable experiences was living with a host family that allowed me to improve my Spanish by conversing each day solely in the language! Finally, USAC gave me the opportunity to travel to Cuba through a field study. The staff members were very supportive and always available and willing to help students navigate any problem that they encountered. Additionally, USAC had several pre-planned field trips throughout the semester that were well-organized and a lot of fun!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Take advantage of the opportunities to improve your Spanish!
Default avatar
Kathleen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Thank you USAC!!

As it was my first time traveling outside of the country by myself, overall it was an amazing experience! Not only did they make the process super simple, the program was fun and life changing! I love how the classes were small and we were able to really learn and get to know the professor. The country was absolutely beautiful, the onsite staff was really kind and helpful and I would really recommend anyone who is interested in studying abroad to go with USAC!!

Laken
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

USAC San Ramon, Costa Rica

I had an amazing experience with USAC in Costa Rica. I learned so much about cultural humility by living with a host family and going to classes at a Costa Rican university. I especially loved discovering the natural wonders of the area that I was living in, as well as all over the country. My biggest piece of advice would be to study the Spanish language as much as possible before you go, and to immerse yourself in the language as much as possible while you are there. I had considered applying to be a Peace Corps volunteer before I studied abroad, however, when I came back to the US, I immediately applied to Peace Corps because I had such a wonderful experience.

Default avatar
Allison
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica: Ecological Paradise

The beautiful thing about being a biology major at a major university in Costa Rica is that my ecology classes could just take a walk outside to find examples of things we learn in class. Every day, my plant taxonomy class would take a walk around campus identifying the families of plants we learned about. There is a small forest for study right behind “la U”, as they like to call it.

The first day of tropical ecology class, our professora Sonia took us on a walk around campus just to find what ecology we could see. The very first bush we stop at, she sees this giant spider and starts cooing “Que linda, chiquitita” (“how cute, little girly”). Next thing you know she’s picking it up and explaining about the native spiders, as the class cringes a little. That is how you earn respect day one, let me tell you. By the end of the semester, we were all doing the same, and I can still tell you about the 3 major species on campus.

Not only do we explore our campus ecology to the fullest, but we’ve also gotten a chance to study so many other ecosystems in the country of Costa Rica. Our field studies, take us all over the country. Studying in San Ramon has given me the chance to explore in real life the tropical systems I would study as an ecology student in a text book anywhere else. While studying these ecosystems I’ve had the chance to snorkel in the Pacific and Caribbean, visit the major research station for tropical rainforests in Costa Rica, and hike through multiple cloud forests in various stages of restoration and establishment.

San Ramon is perfect for any student that is interested in learning more about nature and Latin American culture. This is also a great place to learn Spanish, you’ll get plenty of practice. Making friends with locals and learning salsa and other latin dances has been a highlight of my semester, and a fun way to learn about Tico culture. And, if you’re pre-med: I’ve only heard good things about the hospital or clinic internships, if your Spanish is already pretty decent. They are very interactive, and challenging in a good way. I have so much love for this city and country. My year was such a positive experience overall, and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s a little crazy to me, the Carolina girl, to think that I felt like I was returning home when I got back to San Ramon from a week in say, Panama or Cuba. I’m so grateful, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Viva Moncho!

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Leah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Location to study Biology and Spanish

I picked this program location because I was a Biology and Spanish major and San Ramon incorporated these two perfectly. I took tropical Ecology, field study, and medical Spanish. I loved how much we got to go outside and explore and the excursions were awesome. The wildlife in Costa Rica is unbeatable. One of the best experiences was swimming in bio-luminescent water at night on a field trip for ecology. I also highly recommend taking dances of latin america which got everyone out of their comfort zone but was super fun. My host family was the absolute best and I keep in contact with my mama "tica" to this day. The only downside was that the city really shut down at night because it wasn't very safe to be out after dark (which it got dark at about 6:30). But I never experienced any problems and if you are smart about it, you shouldn't have to worry! Pura Vida!

Default avatar
Allyson
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

USAC San Ramon

This program was fantastic! The classes provided (I took Tropical Conservation Biology and its corresponding field study) were very applicable to my majors of Zoology and Environmental Science, and the field study itself was unforgettable. The electives (I took Latin American Dance, but Latin American Cooking was also an option) are also super fun and relevant to the culture of the country. My host family was super friendly and hospitable, and the USAC staff were very accommodating. All of the trips/tours that were provided through the program were loads of fun--I got to zipline through the jungle, see Arenal Volcano from hanging bridges, and ride horses on the beach.
Though the program description says that it is not required for you to know Spanish, I'd highly recommend you learn a bit of it before you go, because many of the locals in San Ramon do not speak English. That only added to the adventure for me, though!