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During our summer program in Costa Rica, explore the place of pura vida (pure life), a contagious attitude of living life to the fullest. And it shows – Costa Rica is one of the world’s happiest countries 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.

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.


Graduates Eligible? Yes, high school graduates are eligible to participate.
Minimum GPA No GPA Requirement
Age Range 15yrs, 0 months to
17yrs, 6 months at start of program
Language Skills No language requirement
COVID-19 Vaccine Required

Your Journey to Costa Rica

In the months before your departure, AFSers have the opportunity to participate in various preparatory activities, including an online Student Learning Journey, which is an interactive course that brings AFSers from around the world together to learn how to develop essential global skills, intercultural communication techniques, and practice social impact, maximizing the outcomes of the AFS learning experience. 

AFS-USA will coordinate and share your international travel with you. You will need to coordinate your own travel to the point of international departure. From there, your journey in Costa Rica will begin when you land, where you’ll be met by staff and volunteers …and meet your fellow AFSers from around the world! Shortly after arrival, you will attend an arrival orientation and get a crash course on Costa Rican culture, living with a host family, safety, and support structures.

Our high school summer program in Costa Rica is packed with a Spanish intensive, an immersive homestay and high school experience, and an unbelievable tour of this stunning land. This is your chance to make lifelong friends across cultures and become a member of a Costa Rican community, all in one summer!


Here’s a sample of what you’re likely to do and see on program:

I. Getting oriented:

2 weeks of Spanish lessons in the mountains

This program offers two arrival times for participants. Should you choose the eight-week program, your first two weeks will include an intensive Spanish Language Course with other AFS students from around the world. Be prepared to improve your Spanish: You’ll fit 60 hours of language lessons into two weeks! You’ll also participate in additional intercultural activities to help you learn the language and practice implementing your skills in daily situations. During the language camp, you’ll stay in the shared dorms of AFS Costa Rica, supervised and supported by AFS volunteers and the staff of the language school.

Costa Rica_Language

Shortly after arriving, you’ll have a language proficiency assessment to determine your course level (beginners, intermediate, advanced). Then, you’ll receive Spanish lessons in small groups based on your language level. This course also includes additional activities that will improve your practical and intercultural communication skills.

Costa Rica_Road Trip

II. Living pura vida:

4 weeks of homestay and high school life

This program includes a four-week homestay with a volunteer host family and full integration into a Costa Rican high school. By living and studying as ticos do, you’ll be fully immersed in pura vida and quickly develop your Spanish. While culture shock is real, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll quickly become a member of your host family and won’t want to leave this second home.

All participants will attend a local public school near your host family’s home during their program. 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. This will give you plenty of free time to learn about Costa Rican culture and practice your Spanish in real-life contexts!

Costa Rica_Road Trip (1)

III. Road Trip of a Lifetime:

1 week of exploring Costa Rica

During the final week, you’ll go on a five-day bus tour of some of the country’s most incredible destinations with AFSers from around the world. Together, you’ll visit the northern mountain cord in the middle of Costa Rica, as well as the beaches of the Pacific Coast. You’ll have time to relax and share cultures while enjoying the warm waters of the tropical ocean. ¡Pura vida!


Your Homestay 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 near 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. Ticos are usually very welcoming and family-oriented. Expect to share lots of lively communal meals with your host parents, host siblings, and extended family members. 

What's Included

  • 75+ years of experience delivering high-quality programs through a worldwide network of 50,000 dedicated volunteers
  • Accommodations
  • Round-trip international airfare for the designated program dates
  • Program activity 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.
  • International secondary medical travel coverage
  • Visa support and guidance
  • Inclusion in a worldwide returnee and alumni network of over 1,000,000 people

Scholarships and Aid

We believe that studying abroad should not be contingent on personal finances. When you apply, we work with you to understand your family’s needs and match you with available scholarships and aid. 100% of accepted applicants with demonstrated need receive funds.

Learn More


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 summer program 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.