Costa Rica

Summer High School Program


Summer High School Program — 2019
Jul 9-12, 2019 → Aug 22-25, 2019
  $7,950   Available

*Departure dates may vary within a few days of those listed.


Let Costa Rica teach you how to appreciate the good things in life as you fill your summer with rainforests and sunny beaches. You’ll get to see the Costa Rica that doesn’t live in guide books by attending school and living with a host family in a local community. For the first five weeks of your program, you’ll have the opportunity to live like a regular Costa Rican teenager while gaining valuable intercultural experience. During the sixth and final week, you’ll go on an intensive bus tour of some of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. This is your chance to make friends, interact with locals, and become a true member of the community, all in the course of a summer.

Things to know

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 happy and easy-going, so you’re likely to get along with most people you meet. Ticos also tend to be very expressive; you can expect your host family to greet you with enthusiastic hugs and kisses on the cheek. Unlike most other Spanish speakers, people in Costa Rica use the formal version of the word "you" (usted), even when addressing close friends.

Your journey to Costa Rica

Arriving in San José

Your journey to Costa Rica will begin in Miami, where you'll meet your fellow AFSers from the U.S. Together you'll attend an overnight orientation, and then travel to San José where you'll be met by AFS Staff or Volunteers.

Soon you'll be ready to head to your host community. On the way, you'll likely pass dynamic metropolitan cities as well as dense jungles full of wildlife. You can expect to see cloud forests, sparkling beaches, and street markets selling sizzling, home-made food. Before long, you’re bound to find yourself surrounded by friendly locals as you soak in the relaxing atmosphere.

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Meeting your host family

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.

See where past AFSers have lived
Costa Rica

Settling into daily life

Your Host School

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.

Exploring the Area

During this program, you’ll get to go on a one-week bus trip where you and AFSers from all over the world will visit famous Costa Rican tourist sites. For the remaining time, you can experience life as a regular teenager. Tico and tica 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 get the chance to 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. Some popular music genres include calypso, reggae, and soca (a mixture of soul from the United States and calypso), as well as widespread North American hits.

Foods You’ll Encounter

Meals in Costa Rica generally involve some combination of rice and beans. You can enjoy fresh, locally-grown bananas (Costa Rica is one of the largest producers of bananas in the world), mangos, pineapples, papayas, watermelons, and citrus fruits. Your typical breakfast might include gallo pinto (a mixture of rice and black beans), followed by casado (rice, beans, salad, meat, plantains, and sometimes eggs) for lunch. Because beef, chicken, pork, and fish are important parts of Costa Rican cuisine, vegetarianism is not very common. But you can taste some delicious traditional dishes like olla de carne (beef stew with potatoes, onions, and vegetables), empanadas (pastries stuffed with meat, cheese, vegetables, or fruit), and arroz con pollo (rice with chicken).

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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, 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.

Meet the people who will be supporting you in Costa Rica

Raul, AFS Costa Rica Staff Raul
Camilo, AFS Costa Rica Volunteer Camilo
Jahel, AFS Costa Rica Volunteer Jahel

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