ISV - Volunteer Projects in Costa Rica

Video and Photos

Program Update:

ISV will only be conducting programs for this coming summer, 2018 in the Dominican Republic.

About

Costa Rica is filled with a colourful array of animals, white beaches, lush rainforests, rivers, volcanoes and smiling communities. The national motto is "Pura Vida," meaning Pure Life, and the volunteer projects offered by International Student Volunteers (ISV) reflect this sentiment in every way. ISV works with grassroots initiatives to address social and environmental issues facing this Central American country, in methods that directly benefit locals. Projects range from wildlife conservation, community development, children's programs and environmental management.

You could be observing the feeding behavior of endangered species, mapping habitats, monitoring dolphin populations, or taking beach patrols to protect turtle nests. Community development projects involve working alongside locals in recycling, reforestation, trail building, organic farming and habitat restoration. For more details on how to preserve Costa Rica’s valuable biodiversity, visit ISV's website today!

Related Programs

Questions & Answers

I don't believe you can scuba dive. You can however snorkel, in fact they take you to a small fishing village in which you can snore at with beautiful corals.

Reviews

97%
based on 141 reviews
  • Impact 9.3
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 8.4
  • Value 9.4
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 1 - 15 of 141
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Carol
10/10

ISV Costa Rica Program 2016

When I first learned about what ISV was, I immediately wanted to sign up- and I'm so glad I did! Traveling to Costa Rica in the summer of 2016, was the best experience of my life that I've had so far. My career goal is to become a veterinarian, so when I found out that ISV had programs involving wildlife conservation I was hooked. Luckily I was placed in the Osa in Water project, which involved many aspects of sea turtle conservation, and I was thrilled! The project site was on Playa Blanca, and we traveled to several neighboring beaches where we would set up nets in the ocean in order to capture either Hawksbill, or Black sea turtle species. Once we had one trapped in the net, the researchers would haul it onto the boat, ride to shore, and we would conduct the data research of measuring the turtle's carapace, plastron, and tail length. If it was a new turtle that we had never encountered before, we would give it a number tag on its left and right flipper in order to monitor its travel patterns. We would also take a tissue sample from its hind flipper so the researchers could further study blood lines. On days where we weren't working directly with the sea turtles, we would plant Mangrove seeds, which are a vital food source for the Hawksbills. We would also do beach clean ups, and different maintenance work along the project site. It felt so rewarding, being able to help conduct this project successfully. Something I would definitely do again!

How can this program be improved?
The project was great!
Yes, I recommend
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Dulce
10/10

Gracias Costa Rica! Pura Vida!

Sharing a story of your experience in Costa Rica is very challenging, there are just so many things I learned and how now applied to my daily life. Costa Rica changed my perspective of living and life in general in a positive way. One thing that I wont forget is how aware people are of there environment and try to provide ways to reduce pollution. I was able to appreciate small basic needs, like the ability to have clean drinking water. I also learned to try and live more eco-friendly and reduce the impact of trash. The moment I realized how beautiful and rich Costa Rica is was when I kayaked to Rio Tropicales lodge. The beauty there is hard to describe and difficult to forget. Trees everywhere surround you and you have this huge river that sound like a lion roar at all times of the day. Hiking around and being able to feel the rain pour down your face has never felt to relaxing.

How can this program be improved?
Allowing people to explore more of the community and town. Being able to communicate and emerge people with the culture and environment.
Yes, I recommend
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Kylee
9/10

My first time abroad with ISV

The whole trip was 5 weeks long since I did the optional spanish class week. My project was in Playa Blanca in the Osa Peninsula. The Gulf we stayed on was incredible! The first morning we were there we woke up early to watch the sunrise. The water was calm, there were hardly any clouds and the sun painted the sky brilliant colors of orange and pink. We watched as turtles surfaced for air while feeding in the tranquil gulf. It was a rare sight to see in the rainy season!
We stayed in cabins close to the beach and worked along side a group of sea turtle researchers called LAST (Latin American Sea Turtles). We helped with turtle data collection as well as reforestation of mangrove forests in the intertidal zones of multiple beaches. With ISV we also had numerous group discussions about the importance of sustainable development and how our work in Playa Blanca related to sustainable development and ecotourism. Though we were there for turtles, planting the mangroves was surprisingly my favorite part! It made me feel like I was really making a difference!
The last 2 weeks of the trip was our Adventure Tour. We got to travel all across the country, stay in hostels and hotels that supported ecotourism and conservation, learn about national parks and experience the flora and fauna of Costa Rica! We saw 7 sloths in one day! 3 species of monkey, countless species of insects, and so much more! We did white water rafting, hiking, ziplining, repelling, horseback riding, tubing, kayaking, surfing, and stopped at a couple hotsprings along the way! The tour was adrenaline packed and fun for everyone including myself!
I was unlucky in that, during my project with the sea turtles I was injured and ended up breaking my ankle. But, being as stubborn and determined as I am, and with the invaluable help I received from the staff at the ISV Costa Rica office and numerous local guides along the way, I was able to participate in almost everything! With any other travel group that would have been impossible! ISV cares so much for their volunteers and without their help I would have missed out on so many memories and adventures! I will definitely be traveling with ISV again in the future!

Yes, I recommend
Shillo
10/10

Experience of a Lifetime

Volunteering in Costa Rica with ISV was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I learned so much and met so many great people. The experience helped me strengthen my Spanish speaking skills, humble my ideas of living, increase my appreciation of nature, conquer some of my fears, gain knowledge of animal life, and so much more. I can tell that this experience has made me a better person now that I am back home. I am more patient and more aware of my impact on the environment. I would highly recommend that people interested in responsible tourism to go to Costa Rica with ISV.

How can this program be improved?
Just getting ISV known more among students.
Yes, I recommend
Kayla
10/10

A Month in Costa Rica

As a marine science major, I was extremely excited to be traveling to Costa Rica to work with sea turtles for two weeks. This had been a dream of mine since I was three, and ISV gave me that opportunity. Of course I was nervous to be living with a local family since I barely know Spanish, but after a day, I felt like a part of their family. I learned so much about the culture; it was a very humbling experience. The village where I lived was small, and although people didn't own much, they were happy and willing to take me and my group in. By the end of the two weeks of living with my host family, most of the village recognized me and even knew my name. It was hard to leave the family, especially the two little kids who were like siblings, but I will always remember them. As for working with the sea turtles, it was very hard and tiring work, and it was better than I could have imagined. We went on night patrols since the turtles usually lay their eggs at night, and we counted how many eggs a female would lay, measured the length and width of the shell, and tagged the flipper. On the very first night we found 26 turtles, which is way more than usual. A couple of nights later, a phenomenon known as Arribada occurred. This is the large gathering of nesting turtles in populations of Ridley Turtles. It only happens at four beaches in the world, and during about three days of the month throughout the summer. All I can say is that I was very lucky to see this! I learned so much while working with these amazing creatures, and this project confirmed my dreams of majoring in marine science.
So as I mentioned in the title, this was a month-long trip. After two weeks of working with turtles on the Pacific Coast, we met up with another group who had been doing a different project, and we spent the next two weeks traveling all over Costa Rica. In each place that we stopped, we had various activities that we could participate in, such as white water rafting, zip lining, rappelling, surfing, etc. These were all very exciting, but there were also relaxing activities such as sitting in natural hot springs and even a Thai massage on the beach. This adventure tour offered something for everyone, and the tour guide was very friendly and helpful in any situation. Even though this tour was more "touristy," I still learned a lot about the beautiful country and the different people who live there. This program was the most valuable experience of my life so far, and I will definitely continue to travel in the future.

How can this program be improved?
This program was very organised and no large problems occurred during my project, however, the overview that we received before-hand could have provided more realistic expectations about how we should dress on the tour. It had implied that shorts and tank tops were "frowned upon," but as it is a very hot and humid country, most of the locals wear shorts and tank tops just like I do back home. Many of the people in my group had to buy clothes there because the clothes they brought were too hot. Also the program should be more clear about how flights work. I booked my flights through a travel agency that they provided, but many other people booked their own flights because they didn't know about the travel agency. This caused confusion about arrival and departing times, as well as to if transportation would be provided or not to the airport by the company.
Yes, I recommend
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Alixandra
10/10

Thank you, ISV!

I didn't know what to expect when I applied for this program. These days, young people traveling is very common. Family vacations or road trips with friends or even simple day trips to the town over. But there's something about volunteer projects that are different. Putting your entire soul into something bigger than yourself is one of the most rewarding and life-changing experiences. Seeing the world in a whole new light!

By the end of my junior year, I felt the strong urge to just pack up and leave. The staff at ISV made sure to make the application process as easy as possible. I don't think there was ever a day where I had tried to call the office and wasn't able to reach them. While on the trip, I never once feared for my safety or feared that I would be misguided. ISV knows exactly what they're doing. Put your trust in them!

When I had finally gotten to Costa Rica in July 2016, I was assigned to the project Nancite Beach Sea Turtle Conservation. Let me tell you, Nancite Beach is an amazing place and I'm only saying "amazing" because there are absolutely no words to describe the way I felt being here. Not many people can say they've been to this beach because it's closed off to everyone except researchers and student volunteers. For about two weeks, there were 17 of us on an isolated beach, in the middle of the dry rainforest, working very closely with olive-ridley sea turtles. Our group alone was able to take a variety of statistics on about 27 grown sea turtles and released around 440 baby sea turtle hatchlings into the ocean. The first time we saw the baby turtles, we rejoiced! New life, right in front of our eyes! It was so beautiful that it even brought some to tears. We even went as far as to name them and call them OUR babies, creating an even bigger incentive for ocean conservation.

It wasn't just about the project that made this experience great. The people who I was surrounded with were so full of life and positive energy that made the project as amazing as it was. Being able to connect with people on a new level without phones or service and internet or even hot water was an incredibly different experience. These people helped me grow and learn so much about myself, others, and the world around me. Our project leaders, Esteban, Wilberth, and Michael, were some of the most passionate people I've met. They turned our entire volunteer project into something better and bigger than just "work". Spanish became fun, cooking became easy, and dancing became carefree and light.

Costa Rica has been an experience like no other. This trip has changed my mindset and view of the world. My heart is forever changed. PURA VIDA. I love you, Costa Rica.

How can this program be improved?
Be prepared to bring more money or pay more than expected. Costa Rica is not that cheap! The prices are around the same as they are in the United States.

If you get assigned to the Nancite Sea Turtle project, BRING HIKING BOOTS. Not just Nike running shoes. The hike to get into the site is strenuous!
Yes, I recommend
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Maggie
10/10

La Vida Tica

Costa Rica is an incredible country and ISV was a great program to introduce first-time travelers to a new environment. The program centered around sustainability and community development and did a fantastic job of challenging participants to think differently and try new things. I especially appreciated this program because while there was plenty of guidance, we had opportunities to create our own memories specific to our own interests. Staying with a host family was a fascinating way to learn new spanish words and phrases and really see how Costa Ricans live-purely and with a huge emphasis on community and family. I would highly recommend this program as it showed me how to challenge myself and create relationships by finding common ground with new people.

Yes, I recommend
Becky
9/10

Impacting Two Worlds with One Trip

Going into my first year of college I knew for a fact I wanted to study abroad and immerse myself into a completely different country, but I never knew where, when, for what, and how.

One day while sitting in my psychology class, a random young lady handed out a flyer about ISV and gave a brief explanation of what the program is before class and where we meetings are held to learn more information. I always have enjoyed volunteering in my communities, but never thought about volunteering abroad or even knew there was such thing for busy students like me. I decided to go to the information session and fell in love with what ISV had to offer. My major is very specific: athletic training, and I am trying to pursue a minor in Spanish, but my whole life I have been interested in marine life and exotic ecosystems. For 5 weeks I would be spending a week learning Spanish (perfect for dipping my toes into what a full language abroad program would be like), spend 2 weeks conserving either wildlife or the endangered rain forests, and for the last 2 weeks traveling to multiple beautiful cities in the country engaging in activities some people will never be able to do in their lifetime. This trip sounded like a once in a lifetime experience, and it reached above and beyond my expectations once I set foot in Costa Rica.

In just a short amount of time I practiced and learned Spanish skills I will continue to use in my future, volunteered in the Osa Peninsula by measuring the diameter of trees and counting seeds all throughout the gorgeous rain forest, spent two weeks traveling across the country, and of course make friendships that may be all over the world, but last a forever. Traveling with ISV was one of the best decisions I have ever made because I know I have made an impact in the world, and the world has made an impact on me. Every experience we encounter shapes us to who we are today, and this will be an experience I will never forget.

How can this program be improved?
The organization before leaving for the trip could have been a lot better. Calling was helpful most of the time, but I found it hard to get my questions fully answered. In addition, ISV has lists for what to bring on your trip and not everything on the lists were needed nor did I bring things that I had wished I brought after I was in Costa Rica. The last thing that could be improved is just the information about the volunteer project, host families, leaders, etc could have been a little more specific or detailed. I did not know much information before my flight to Costa Rica, which made me very nervous. Although the minor flaws, I loved my trip and would to experience something like this again.
Yes, I recommend
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Kersten
10/10

Best Summer of my life!!

My summer in Costa Rica was so amazing! On my project with ISV I got to work with sea turtles, we were patrolling at night and counting the eggs, measuring their shells, and tagging the fins of the turtles we found nesting on the beach. There is this thing that the turtles do called an arribada, which is a mass nesting. The mass nesting can be anywhere between 2-7 days long. The arribada that i got to experience was 3 days long and we got to see over 5,000 Olive ridley sea turtles nesting on the beach. I was the most incredible sight!! I was counting one turtles eggs and when she finished i stood up to give my egg count to the recorder and i look over the beach and it was just a sea of turtles! Everywhere you looked on that section of beach was a sea turtle! It is a sight I will never forget along with an amazing experience that i will never forget. If i had a chance to go back i would in a heartbeat!

How can this program be improved?
Its great the way it is!
Yes, I recommend
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Robert
10/10

Volunteering on the Rich Coast

Wow. That was my exact reaction both when I first set foot on the beach of my project site and when I stepped into the boat to leave two weeks later. Costa Rica, or the Rich Coast, was nothing short of incredible. Packed with intense biodiversity, the lush rain forest environment created the perfect setting to perform our work. Throughout our two weeks in the country, us volunteers helped out with a variety of projects, from counting seeds dispersed through the rain forest, measuring trees, planting soil bags, making signs for tourists to read, and researching the human impact in the environment through ecotourism. Because I am an engineering student, the project work I was assigned in Costa Rica provided the ideal real-world scenario for experience. Furthermore, the group I was assigned to was amazing--everyone was so helpful and kind; the project coordinators, host families, and fellow volunteers all around were very friendly. I have so many stories from those two weeks, including an up close encounter with monkeys, fishing coconuts out of trees, and sunset swims. I would highly recommend this country and ISV for anyone who loves traveling and making an impact in their world. So enough reading--get out there and help your Earth!

How can this program be improved?
I would say to keep doing what they are doing, as there is no need for improvement.
Yes, I recommend
Molly
9/10

Becoming a tree hugger, overcoming my fear of insects and welcoming rice and beans into my life- My Proyecto Carey Experience

I arrived in Costa Rica from London feeling very nervous about the weeks to come and the people I would meet, and to be honest, never saw myself coming out the other side alive! Safe to say I live to tell the tale.

The journey started in Heredia where I met my group of eight others and our leader Pablo Riba. We had three girls including myself and the rest boys in our group which made for a really fun and chilled dynamic. Everyone was American excluding myself and two boys from France. Firstly we took a bus to the river and then an extremely bumpy hour and a half long boat trip to the village on the Osa Peninsula where we would stay for the next two weeks.

When we arrived the families were there to greet us and help with our luggage- regretted the size of my obscenely large bag after the ten minute walk from the beach to my little wooden hut where I experienced my first case of the jungle sweats. Little did I know this was to be a state of permanence during my whole trip in the 95% humidity. Our group was split into three groups of three for the sleeping arrangements and we stayed with different families in the village, all 5 mins walk from each other. In one case the volunteer dorm was attached to the host family's house but us girls and the boy group were in separate cabins next to the host house. Ours was comfortable enough for the middle of the rainforest but after inspection of everyone else's living quarters we realised that we had drawn the short straw. Above the wooden walls, we were exposed to the elements allowing entry of my worst enemies in the jungle- giant moths and crabs from the beach. In our hut there were two sets of bunk beds, a 'shower' (more like a trickle that didn't much like to work in the rain), toilet, sink and a mirror- luxury!

My host dad was called Elmer and was extremely welcoming, although, like everyone else in the village of the older generation, spoke not a word of English! I really do recommend coming with at least some Spanish. Having said that my Spanish is terrible and I'm now an expert in conversation via facial expressions and eyebrow movements- there are perks either way. We were fed generously throughout the trip although through no fault of my host dad I was extremely ill with an upset stomach. The meals were VERY different with rice and beans being served for breakfast lunch and dinner. The rice and beans were served with a side of fruit and egg for breakfast and for lunch and dinner it was a type of meat and some veg- usually chicken. Make sure you bring lots of stomach neutralising meds because there are no toilets once you get up into the forest!

The first day of work in the forest took my breath away ( literally). It was not only hot but the hiking was extremely physically demanding. We had to walk up the dreaded 'red hill' to collect data in quadrants. This consisted of four or five (depending on where in the jungle you were collecting) extremely steep inclines with uneven terrain. Although this was tough and I discovered that my body can sweat more than I ever thought possible, the view from the top was beautiful. You could see above the forest canopy and then the bluest of seas which I thought only existed on Instagram after hours of editing and saturation boosts. A natural paradise. It was on this first day at this moment that we got our first awkward group photo as we all stood about a mile apart from each other which we looked back on at the end of the trip and found hilarious. I was very thankful for my litre and a half water bottle- essential to have a big bottle on this trip as we were out until the hottest part of the day (around 12) with no way of filling up. The morning work consisted of walking around the forest with our local guide,placing quadrants under trees and counting the seeds. During our time on the Osa we each had two days with Pablo helping him measure the width of some of the biggest trees in the forest which changed up the daily routine a bit- the rest of the group did the usual seed counting with the local guide. This data would be included in a long report that Pablo sends to the government each year comparing growth and monitoring development.

Although this sounds very dull, and it was very slippy/ steep most of the time underfoot, our group became so close that even this was fun. I think everyone just got on with the work thinking of the positive effect it would have on sustaining this beautiful environment. Every day we saw a different type of animal- spider monkeys were the most common but red macaws and toucans were also frequent visitors! We went back to the village for lunch every day and you really did feel like you deserved it . Every day our whole group went to the beach for a swim together during our lunch break before starting afternoon work. This was way more chilled as we just stayed in the village filling up soil bags that we numbered and planted different seeds in that Pablo had collected from the forest. This downtime meant hours of talking and we really got to know each other well. After the days work was finished at about 3.30 and Pablo walked home, we often stayed at 'El Rancho' which was the clubhouse, or went to watch the breathtaking sunsets together until dinner which was at 6. Particularly amusing for me was my re creation of a scene with Jesus and his disciples at sunset. We had one guy with long hair who held a stick whilst everyone else bowed before him. This nickname of 'Jesus' stuck with poor Matt for the rest of the trip. Nonetheless, it was an excellent photo strategically planned by yours truly.

During these two weeks we had two free days the first of which we got a boat to the nearest village called Drake. Us girls attempted to look nice- an impossibility in the jungle. As soon as I stepped out of the hut it started pouring with rain and within minutes my mascara was all over my face leaving me looking like a tragic woman who had attempted tribal war paint with hair resembling Bridget Jones circa 2001. We were all thrilled to get wifi at the village. Although I thought the no drinking policy would annoy me, I wasn't bothered by it at all for the sole reason that there wasn't really anywhere to go to buy drinks! Beware- do not buy pizza. I ordered four cheese and they put nacho cheese on it and charged a bomb. Utter outrage.

On the next free day we went to the beautiful Rio Claro waterfall with out local guide Waneger. It was like something out of the jungle book and I feel very blessed that I have been lucky enough to see mother nature in this way. For lunch, Waneger took us to the beach and a sweet organic looking shop where a local sold necklaces and bracelets made from shells and natural materials for reasonable prices. I got a necklace which I felt was a rite of passage on my way to becoming a woman of the jungle/ edgy traveler. Both the free days were lovely although not that relaxing as everywhere you go you have to walk- and sweat.

Although everyone is on panic alert for Zika virus at the moment, I really didn't get bitten that much. I slept with a fly net around my bed and put fly spray on in the morning but I sweated that off within about 10 mins (gross I know). So all in all protection from flies is not essential as the main problem area (legs and feet) are covered by long socks and rubber boots.

I really can't recommend this project enough. As cliche and ridiculous as it sounds, it has opened my eyes to the world, not just to the beauty of nature but also to what is damaging on a human scale and the many threats of exploitation that fecund countries such as Costa Rica face. I think it is essential for people to be reminded of the joys of simplicity at least once in their lives, and this volunteer project is something that definitely taught me that. Until next time, Costa Rica.

How can this program be improved?
Lack of information beforehand made me extremely apprehensive about the trip. More pictures of our host families and the area in which we were staying would have been very helpful. We were told to bring the families gifts but it was hard to really know what they would appreciate. It was a shame as I bought a London printed tea towel, which would have been more appropriate for a woman but we had a host dad. There was absolutely no signal where I was staying on the Osa Peninsula and my family at home were very worried about me. It would have been nice if the project leader had sent an email out to all of the parents in our group saying that we had arrived safely.

Also the kit list needs to be updated. I found that I did not wear my rain jacket or expensive zip off trousers once as of course it was too hot in the rainforest! You simply had to accept that you either got bitten or got wet- there is no way of avoiding this.
Yes, I recommend
Karli
10/10

Best Decision of My Life!

Deciding to go to Costa Rica with ISV was literally one of the best decisions of my life. I am 21, and have never traveled outside of the United States. I was traveling alone, not knowing anyone, and I was scared out of my mind. But literally right when I got there, I felt SO at home. The ISV workers are so welcoming and kind and make you feel so comfortable right away. The environment is one of my passions, so naturally going to Costa Rica has always been high on my list. I never imagined what I was actually in for though, IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. I felt like I was living a dream for 2 weeks. Don't get me wrong, the volunteer work is HARD. But it is so rewarding, you leave the forest every day feeling tired, but SO SO fulfilled. The families are so kind and loving, and you literally can experience a completely new culture "hands-on". I think my favorite part of the whole experience was the combination of the beautiful forests and working to keep them beautiful along with making life long friends and memories. Costa Rica will forever hold a special place in my heart and I am so thankful for a organization like ISV.

How can this program be improved?
make arriving to the airport more clear! It was confusing and very overwhelming!
Yes, I recommend
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Kendra
10/10

Kendra Wolf Costa Rica Review

Going to Costa Rica was the best experience of my life! It was my first time out of the country and I couldn't have asked for a better country to volunteer in. I was able to volunteer in the rainforest where I saw a new animal everyday and saw some of the best sunsets I've ever seen. After those two weeks I went on the adventure tour and I want to go back because I loved it so much! I got to go white water rafting, zip lining over the rainforest, and repelling down a 280ft waterfall! I made a lot of life long friends and can't wait to make more!

Yes, I recommend
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Savannah
10/10

A perfect and life changing experience

Whenever friends and family ask "How was your ISV trip?" my response is always the same: "It was perfect." It has been one month since I have returned from my ISV trip in Costa Rica and I can honestly say not one day has gone by without me thinking about my trip. Everyday there has been at least one moment that I have been reminded of how lucky I was to participate in my program, how much it has positively affected my views of our beautiful planet, how proud I am to have made a positive impact in the incredible country of Costa Rica and represent ISV, and/or how much I miss the country and people I met while there. I have also talked with the lifelong friends I made during my project and the adventure tour every day since. Each day in Costa Rica was incredible during my four weeks there, however ziplining next to volcan Arenal, white water rafting through the Pacuare River, and witnessing a mini arribada on playa Ostional are all my fondest memories. ISV changed my life for the better in so many ways and I cannot thank them enough. Sign up for an ISV trip this summer! You won't regret it.

How can this program be improved?
My time in Costa Rica was perfect!
Yes, I recommend
Sara
10/10

Costa Rica

My time on the ISV program in Costa Rica was life changing. The first week was a spanish immersion program. I stayed at a nice home stay and walked to the school everyday. I met so many great people, got better at spanish, and had plenty of adventures around town after classes. The second two weeks I went to Nancite beach to work with sea turtles. This was definitely an adjustment. We had to hike a mountain with our luggage and stay in a poorly insulated cabin. There was nothing cold except the shower water, and not much to do unless you were inventive. If you go on this trip i strongly recommend a deck of card or something to do. Since we were so secluded, I got really close with everyone in my group. It was such a great learning experience that challenged me physically and mentally. When we finally returned with our leg muscles and bug bites, we met back with the other groups and started the adventure tour. This was the best part of the trip for a lot of people. We got to do so many awesome activities and have free time in between them. I got to get out of my shell and talk with the locals who are very nice and laid back people. The people I have met on this trip probably made it worth it. Although the travel and sights and activities and experiences were amazing, the things I learned from talking with each person in our group changed me. I came out of it with a broader perspective and an attitude to do my part in the world. I have been making lifestyle changes ever since I have been back. I am finally becoming the person I want to be, and I couldn't have done it without this trip. I would definitely do it again. If you have an open mind, it makes it ten times better. Many things are as good as you make them. I strongly suggest keeping a journal and write in it everyday. Many people regret not doing it, and my journal is now one of my most cherished possessions. Have fun and pura vida!!!

How can this program be improved?
There were a lot of hidden costs, so I ended up needing to take out way more money than I thought I would. Also, the packing lists should be updated, or at least noted that those things are a suggestion and you don't actually need 4 pairs of tall, dark, lightweight socks. (Probably only 1 or 2)
Yes, I recommend

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ISV’s mission is to support sustainable development programs around the world through life changing student volunteer programs designed to positively impact our world and to educate, inspire and result in more active global citizens.

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