Life in Costa Rica

Bring an umbrella, be prepared for cold showers, and live every day to the fullest. Carter from MA, Semester Program
It was hard for me to adjust to the amount of American products (food, toys, TV, music) that my family had. At first I felt like I had just moved in with the family next door in the U.S. But I realized that although they had many of the same products, they did not use them in the same ways and placed higher value on different itemsDawn from AZ, Semester Program
The teacher-student relationship was also a lot more relaxed, and the teachers were more like friends to their students. Callie from WI, Semester Program
It takes time to make friendships. The main after school activity is watching TV. Don't get frustrated when you don't do a lot with your friends—it's just not how they do it there.Dawn from AZ, Semester Program
Do your best to integrate yourself into your school. Your classmates will really appreciate it and you will have a stronger connection with them. Take advantage of any chance you have to travel because Costa Rica is beautiful.McKenna from MI, Semester Program
You have to care what you look like when you go out of the house. In the US, people go out in their pajamas, but in my host community, you have to wear makeup, do your hair, and put on heels; the whole 9 yards.Catherine from ME, Semester Program
AFS-USA is a great organization and when I was abroad, they helped me through a lot of tough times, so know that you will be supported. Don’t be nervous or embarrassed if your Spanish isn't perfect or you don't fully understand the culture. Your host school will be very understanding and accommodating. Nicole from IL, Semester Program
I had a difficult time getting used to the inactivity. Many Costa Ricans are not active in things like sports and clubs, where as in the US everyone is active in something.Megan from IL, Semester Program
Don't make any false promises, Costa Ricans take assurances very seriously. Have fun, but be responsible. Don't do anything that might tarnish the reputation of your host family. They take their reputation very seriously.Hannah from WA, Summer Community Service Program
Curfew was something hard to adjust to, as were the long hours at school. If you are a girl going to Costa Rica, be prepared for an early curfew. Costa Rican parents are very protective of their daughters.Shayna from OR, Semester Program
Privacy in Costa Rica is not as relevant as in the US. People often use your things and go into your room. It is their culture, you’ll get used to it. Learn patience.Stephanie from UT, Semester Community Service Program

Digging Deeper

Language Resources
Cultural Resources
News and Media
Movies and Documentaries
  • ¡Pura vida! (1956)
  • Maikol Yordan de Viaje Perdido (2014)
  • El regreso (2012)
  • El camino (2007)
  • Between the Harvest (2010)
  • Costa Rica (History Channel)
  • The Price of Kings: Oscar Arias (2012)
Books
  • Revolutions in the Atlantic World: A Comparative History
  • Costa Rica - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture
  • The Ticos: Culture and Social Change in Costa Rica
  • Monkeys Are Made of Chocolate: Exotic and Unseen Costa Rica
  • Two Weeks in Costa Rica
  • Costa Rica: Folk Culture, Traditions, and Cuisine
  • Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion
  • Única mirando al mar
  • Los peor
  • Mamita Yunai
LGBTQ Resources (Diversity) Heritage and Ethnicity Resources (Diversity)



Note: The links and resources listed in "Digging Deeper" have been provided to AFS by people involved with our organization, including alumni members, volunteers, etc. AFS has not reviewed the resources in their entirety and presents them "as is" for your own information. As such, the sites, publications, films, etc. do not necessarily reflect the approval of nor the views, opinions, and/or values of AFS.