Global Prep — 2019
Application deadline: December 5, 2018
Costa Rica has been called “The Happiest Place on Earth,” and it’s not hard to see why. With its stunning natural landscape, hearty food, and friendly atmosphere, this tropical country is an ideal place to spend an action-packed summer. During your two-week Global Prep program, you’ll get to explore rainforests, caves, and beaches, while absorbing Costa Rica’s vibrant culture and history. You and your group will also visit the home of the indigenous Boruca people and take part in some of their traditions. When you return from this life-changing adventure, you’re bound to have lots of amazing stories, lessons, and photos to share!
Your journey to Costa Rica will begin in Miami, where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the US. Then you’ll travel together with your Group Leader to San José. At the airport, you’ll be welcomed by AFS Staff or Volunteers and then taken to an arrival orientation at the local AFS office. There you’ll learn some facts about your host country and practice a few essential Spanish phrases. Before long, you’ll head to the rainforest in Monteverde, where you can appreciate Costa Rica’s diverse wildlife and lush natural beauty.
Your investigation into Costa Rican culture will start with a tour of the capital, San Jose. As you walk around the city, you’ll have time to wander through the Jade Museum. Next, you and your group will learn about the indigenous culture of the Boruca people, who live in the Southwestern part of the country. There you’ll take part in local traditions and attend workshops covering topics like dancing and mask-making. (The Boruca are known for the colorful, handcrafted masks that they wear during their end of the year celebration.) You and your group will also get to see the famous stone spheres at the Ballena Marine National Park. Several myths surround these ancient stone orbs, and their intricate construction and assembly show that their creators must have been skilled sculptors and mathematicians. In fact, one legend holds that at the center of each sphere is a single coffee bean!
During your time in Costa Rica, you’ll be staying in local hostels in rooms reserved exclusively for AFS students. As you settle in, you’ll get to know the other members of your group as you explore Costa Rican culture together. You and your new friends can try some local restaurants, where you might taste delicious dishes like gallo pinto (rice and beans) and olla de carne (beef stew with potatoes, onions, and vegetables).
As you travel to some of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations, you and your group will get to appreciate the country’s national parks and rainforests. First you’ll head the Monteverde Reserve, where you’ll take a tour of the spectacular rainforest canopy. Then you’re off to Guanacaste for an interactive visit at the EcoMuseum. Another highlight of your trip is bound to be your day at the Barra Honda National Park. There you’ll walk through the forest and venture below the Earth’s surface into the vast natural caves. After days of cultural exploration, you and your friends will have the chance to relax at the Playa Samara beach on the Pacific Ocean.
"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, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. That transformation isn’t visible only to you, though - others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers, ranging from language fluency to intercultural competence and critical reasoning. "Life-changing" means it’s only the beginning.
Please Note: Travel date ranges are meant to help with general scheduling and are subject to change; please don’t book any travel based on these dates until you’ve received confirmation from AFS. All programs, prices, and travel dates are subject to change without notice.