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Study Abroad in Costa Rica | Summer & Semester Study Programs

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By Volunteer Forever
Editorial Team
Volunteer Forever - Study Abroad in Costa Rica

Students who study abroad, exploring new places and meeting new people, say over and over again that the experience helped them grow personally, and even changed their lives. It’s a great way to broaden your experiences, and in the process, you’ll become more independent, develop networking relationships, and engage in cross-cultural exchange. Life-changing experiences aside, another reason to study abroad is that our society and workforce are becoming global. Colleges recognize this and encourage students to travel, giving their graduates a competitive edge in the marketplace.

If you’re interested in studying abroad, you need to start the process early. Begin by researching your destination and starting an application. One consideration to take into account is the GPA requirements of your institution – often, you’ll need a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher, and you need to be in good standing – and remain that way – with regards to student conduct.

There’s also a cost to study abroad, and these fees vary depending upon the tuition and cost of living in the region you select. Other expenses to take into account are medical vaccinations and travel costs to and from your program. Since you’re starting the research process early, you’ll have time to apply for grants and loans to pay for the program and look for scholarships. If waiting and placing your hopes on loans and scholarships doesn’t appeal to you, there are creative ways to fundraise – like using Volunteer Forever to crowdfund for your trip.

Studying Abroad in Costa Rica

When you choose to spend the summer or a semester abroad in Costa Rica, you’ll learn and have the opportunity to give back to this paradise in Latin America. Through immersive study abroad, intern abroad, and volunteer abroad programs, you can learn Spanish, get hands-on experience with rainforest and marine conservation, and even learn about human rights and business development, all to enhance your education and career.

Costa Rica packs a lot into its 20,000 square miles. From the bustling markets of San Jose to the Zen-like tranquility of the emerald rainforests, the country offers surprising opportunities around every corner. Costa Rica also has about 1,000 miles of brilliant sandy coastline, making it a favorite destination for surfers and sun-seekers. This is a beautiful country stationed between Nicaragua and Panama. In addition to its land borders, it finds itself sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Despite its large and diverse landscape, only 4.5 million people live in the country full time.

Maximo Nivel

Volunteer Forever - Study Abroad in Costa Rica

Maximo Nivel connects you to the greatest needs of Costa Rican communities so you can provide the greatest value to the people of this lovely Central American country. The organization has both volunteer and internship opportunities in addition to study abroad programs.

High School Abroad

Maximo Nivel’s Spanish Immersion program assures you’ll become a bilingual speaker when you spend a semester (24 weeks) or an entire full year at a fully accredited high school in Costa Rica. Open to high school students from 9th to 12th grade, you can choose to attend a prestigious, private school in either San Jose or Manuel Antonio and take AP classes, general education, sports, and more while earning credit towards the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma.

Classes are taught in English, and you’ll easily start to pick up Spanish through a structured curriculum that emphasizes speaking. You can participate in sports, including soccer, basketball, baseball, and volleyball, as well as clubs ranging from guitar to chess, to fencing and even aeronautics. Your cultural advisor will work closely with you to make sure you’re able to make a smooth transition with language and cultural differences. Your tuition includes all textbooks, workbooks, and computer lab fees, and extra tutoring is available.

University Internships & Independent Studies Abroad

Are you looking to turn your time in Costa Rica into a new home? Consider the TEFL certification course offered by Maximo Nivel. This program takes place in Manuel Antonio and meets all global standards for the exam – you’re even guaranteed job placement after you complete the program. If you want to stay in Costa Rica, the Maximo Nivel English Language Program in San Jose hires two to three teachers per month.

If you want college credit or seek professional development, sign up for one of Maximo Nivel’s internship programs. Work in a public school as a part of the internship, or spend a meaningful few months at an NGO or government agency as a part of the human rights internship. You can also sign up for a medical or hospitality and tourism internship. Here’s a sampling of internships in Costa Rica:

Micro-Business Internships in Costa Rica

Choose a summer internship in Costa Rica, one of the most economically successful of Latin American countries, and assist entrepreneurs and small business owners in the private or nonprofit sector. Expand your business and communication skillsets by taking a role in daily operations, client service, sales, administration, marketing, public relations, accounting, and distribution. You’ll study and work in San Jose, a prime location for business development, where you’ll learn business practices in a competitive, international setting, allowing you to become global-minded, and develop your Spanish speaking skills. You must be at least 18, enrolled in a related discipline, have intermediate Spanish language skills, and complete a final project.

Human Rights Internships in Costa Rica

Spend your summer in Costa Rica on a Human Rights internship, helping in the areas of women’s rights, undocumented migrants, discrimination against refugees, representation of native peoples in politics, and inclusion of the LGBTQ community. You can choose to work with a government agency, a community organization, or with an NGO, focused on your interests in the field. Work and learn from change agents and social workers, striving for empowerment and social justice, as outlined by Costa Rica’s 2015 Human Rights Report. Improve your Spanish speaking skills and gain confidence as you help with outreach, education, research, and fundraising. Some of your responsibilities can include marketing support through website development, social media, and the creation of promotional materials. You’ll have the chance to create presentations to launch new projects, collaborate and assist in the development of events, attend organizational meetings, and support the staff in the office. To sign up, you must be enrolled in a related discipline, have intermediate Spanish language skills, able to work with limited resources, be 18 years of age, and complete a final project.

Special Education Internships in Costa Rica

Special Education is a constitutional right of students with disabilities in Costa Rica, however, the challenge is to make sure these students receive quality services. As an intern with the Special Education program in Costa Rica, you will have superior hands-on training with professionally certified teachers working in the capital city of San Jose. During your internship, you work with students that are living with various disabilities – you’ll help plan lessons, utilize the appropriate level curriculum, and observe and aid in the class to advance management techniques that encourage students to learn at their highest potential. Intermediate Spanish language skills are required, and you must be enrolled in a related discipline to sign up. You’ll receive college credit, build your professional network, be able to add “Bilingual Spanish” to your resume or CV.

Global Vision International

Volunteer Forever - Study Abroad in Costa Rica

Global Vision International, or GVI, takes advantage of the diverse ecosystem of Costa Rica to offer meaningful study abroad programs, as well as volunteer projects and internship opportunities, in big cities and lush rainforests alike. GVI is a trusted organization that provides long-term internship opportunities and study abroad experiences that can enhance your education and jumpstart your academic career. Whether you want to spend your semester empowering women or devote a summer to protecting nature in Costa Rica, GVI has a program where you’ll flourish. Here are some of their options!

Study Abroad Program in Costa Rica

Spend your summer exploring a new destination and learn how to live like a local in Costa Rica. When the world is your classroom, you gain real-world experience, allowing you to connect the dots between theory and action. Then, when you’re home, you start to envision and create a better future. A GVI study abroad program in Costa Rica gives you an opportunity to work with leaders in sustainability studies, local researchers, as well as community members.

Your GVI study abroad curriculum will have you identifying a topic for your independent study project, whether that’s working on a community development program, immersing yourself in a language and cultural experience, or researching a conservation and wildlife initiative. Pre-departure, you’ll spend the first two weeks preparing with assigned reading, then discuss the material in online seminars with educators and other students. Next, you’ll travel to Costa Rica, where you’ll conduct fieldwork, attend guest lectures, enjoy cultural activities, and learn about local practices, dances, and food. Spend this time collecting data and resources you need for your final project. This is a great time to reflect upon your experience in the field. Post-trip, you’ll be able to share your insights with your classmates and others, then complete and submit your final project. GVI’s study abroad program in Costa Rica is six weeks’ total, two of which you’ll spend in-country, and is worth three credits.

Other Student Travel Opportunities

GVI also offers a variety of other opportunities for students who would like to visit, study, volunteer, and intern in Costa Rica. Here are a few to consider:

Conservation Internship

In this 24-week program, you will help with conservation projects along the Caribbean coast and learn about data processing, biological surveys, and canoeing. This program begins with rigorous training, including first aid qualification. You’ll focus on a series of projects ranging from monitoring and conserving sea turtles, jaguar predation studies, migratory bird research, and biological assessment surveys. By the end of your internship and field-based experience, you’ll have the skills to monitor a range of mini-ecosystems, know how to apply a holistic approach to conservation, and bring home several certifications. If you’re interested in a career in conservation or even want to be a tour guide one day, this could be a great program.

English and Community Development

If you want to spend next semester in Costa Rica, consider putting your teaching skills to use. On this English teaching volunteer program, you will live with other travelers in the coastal community of Quepos for up to 12 weeks, and have the opportunity to help locals learn conversational English. You also will be able to contribute to art and music education. This project is important to the community because its economy is built upon tourism. If you’re not already fluent in Spanish, a 20-hour language program is recommended before you arrive in Costa Rica.

Childcare Expedition

In this rewarding eight-week program, you will work alongside the Save the Children organization to empower young children in Quepos. During your stay in Costa Rica, you will work with children, helping them with homework, preparing posters, and creating educational resources. Another focus of the project is to teach children their rights, making them aware of how to stay safe, and how to identify different forms of violence. Your time will be divided between childcare and teaching, overseeing art workshops, and supervising sports activities and games.

Ready to Travel?

Costa Rica is a country as rich in personality and culture as it is chances to give back. Instead of spending a few months backpacking from one tree house hostel to another, why not get to the know the people who make this nation so special? Get more information about one of these chances to study abroad this summer in Costa Rica, or sign up for a full semester – and then the adventure begins!