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Study abroad in Costa Rica and explore the place of pura vida (pure life), a contagious attitude of living life to the fullest. And it shows – Costa Rica is the world’s happiest country according to the Happy Planet index. A peaceful country with no standing army, Costa Rica has a long democratic tradition. Democracy, peace, and political freedom are often mentioned as their greatest blessings.

By living with a host family and studying at a local high school in Costa Rica, you’ll be fully immersed in their Spanish language dialect and vibrant culture. You’ll be so much more than a tourist. But you’ll still get to visit some of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations on a one-week bus trip with other AFS Exchange Students from all over the world. Most of the time, you’ll simply live pura vida.

Costa Ricans call themselves “ticos,” and you’ll often hear them demonstrate their national pride by describing something as “muy tico,” or “very Costa Rican.” Ticos are generally easy-going, so you’re likely to get along with most people you meet.

 

Eligibility Requirements

Current high school students and recent graduates are eligible. Specific age requirements may apply; contact AFS for more details.
Must be in good academic standing (recommended GPA of 2.5 or above).
Spanish language skills preferred, but not required.

With its tropical climate, biodiversity, fresh food, and relaxed lifestyle, a study abroad in Costa Rica is an enchanting way to discover a new culture. In time, through your homestay and high school life, you’ll feel at home in this idyllic society.

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Your High School in Costa Rica

During your study abroad in Costa Rica, you can expect to be enrolled in a public school. Classes usually start around 7 am with a snack break around noon. Depending on the school, the end of the day could be anywhere from 1 to 4:30 pm. In some places, a portion of students attend class in the morning while the rest go in the afternoon. Because most studying is done at school, you probably won’t have too much homework, giving you plenty of free time to learn about Costa Rican culture through firsthand experience.

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Costa Rican students like to get together to watch movies, have picnics, or hang out in the park. Futból (soccer) is the most popular sport, but you might also play basketball or go swimming. Dancing is another favorite pastime, with people enjoying Latin dances like salsa, merengue, and cumbia, as well as the Costa Rican swing.

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Your Accommodations While Studying Abroad in Costa Rica

AFSers have lived all throughout Costa Rica, but you’ll most likely find yourself in an urban or suburban area. No matter where you stay, you’ll be within an hour or two of the coast and nearby some breathtaking natural beauty.

Communities in Costa Rica tend to be small, and most people enjoy gathering together to catch up on the local news and gossip. Costa Ricans are usually welcoming and family-oriented. You can expect to share lots of meals with your host parents, host siblings, and extended family members.

Costa Ricans consider the family the basic element of society. Most young people live with their parents even after entering college or becoming financially independent. They usually will not leave home until they get married, and even then, they will try to remain close to their parents.

What's Included

  • 70+ years of experience delivering high-quality programs through a worldwide network of 50,000 dedicated volunteers
  • Accommodations with a vetted host family
  • Round-trip international airfare for the designated program dates
  • School enrollment fees
  • Worldwide, 24-hour emergency assistance
  • Access to an in-country support team and network, as well as our Participant Support Department based here in the U.S.
  • Orientations and intercultural education before and during your program
  • Secondary medical coverage
  • Visa support and guidance
  • Inclusion in a worldwide returnee and alumni network of over 1,000,000 people
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Returning Home

“Life-changing” is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad. “Transformed” is another one.
When you return home from your study abroad in Costa Rica,  you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and developed the confidence and resilience to accomplish anything you set out to do.
That transformation isn’t only visible to you, though – others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers. Second language fluency, intercultural competence, creativity, and critical reasoning will help you succeed, whatever path you take. “Life-changing” means it’s only the beginning.
It’s not just an adventure abroad; it’s a whole new reality. The perspectives and personal connections you gained will stay with you and likely draw you back to the second home you found in Costa Rica.

In fact, our alumni reviews have made AFS one of the top-rated organizations in the study abroad industry.

A new you awaits.

Apply for High School Study Abroad in Costa Rica!

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