AIFS Semester or Academic Year in Costa Rica

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Spend a semester or academic year in San Jose, Costa Rica with AIFS! Earn up to 23 credits/semester at Veritas University. Courses taught in English and Spanish.
An internship program and volunteer opportunities are available to help you make the most of your semester abroad. A Spanish Language and Internship Program is open to students with an advanced level of Spanish and a minimum of 2 years of college Spanish. Volunteer opportunities are also available. Placements made upon arrival.
Live in a homestay within walking distance of campus. Daily breakfast and dinner, weekly laundry service, and internet access are included.
Cultural and social activities will include walking tours of the city, Costa Rican cooking classes, and museum and site visits. A 3-day trip to Arenal Volcano, Hot Springs, and Monteverde Cloud Forest, a 3-day trip to Manuel Antonio National Park, and a Cartago Coffee Tour + La Marta Wildlife Refuge day trip are included.
Optional excursions also available.

  • Transcripts issued by Veritas University
  • 3-day trip to Arenal Volcano, Hot Springs, and Monteverde Cloud Forest
  • 3-day trip to Manuel Antonio National Park

Questions & Answers


based on 16 reviews
  • Academics 8.6
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.8
  • Housing 9.5
  • Safety 8.9
Showing 1 - 15 of 16
Yes, I recommend this program

A Semester in Costa Rica

I spent four months in Costa Rica. It was AMAZING, as everyone days about their study abroad experience. I am so glad that I went for an entire semester because I got to know the country so much more than if I had stayed for less time. And there were still more places that I want to visit one day. Costa Rica is the most biodiverse countries in the world, so if you appreciate plant life and the outdoors, Costa Rica would be a great place for you to go. It also has so many different biomes: beach, forest, and mountains. They are all so gorgeous! Costa Rica has beaches on two sides. One is the facing the Pacific Ocean and one is facing the Atlantic. THe two coasts have two different vibes, which is cool It is fairly easy and cheap to get around the country by bus. I stayed in San Jose, which is the capital and is a city. There is sooo much to do in San Jose. We would leave to visit other places in Costa Rica most weekends, but if we did stay in San Jose, we could always find something entertaining to do. Ticos and Ticas (people who are from Costa Rica) are super kind and caring people. The food is buenisimo. Gallo pinto is their signature dish, which is beans and rice. We literally had gallo pinto practically every morning for breakfast. I loved it, so did my roommates. I miss it so much now. But if you hate beans, that might be a bit of a struggle for you. I was there during the dry season, which was perfect. So you should definitely take that into consideration when you're thinking about what time of the year you will be there. Because apparently it rains kind of non-stop during the wet season. Ideally, you would know some amount of spanish, but I wouldn't say it's required in order to study abroad there. A lot of people know english.
I chose to go through AIFS because they offered everything I wanted during my study abroad experience: the classes I needed (spanish, biology, and sociology), immersion (going to a local university and living in a homestay), and volunteer opportunities. AIFS also had excursions that were included that were a lot of fun, and took a trip to Nicaragua (at an additional cost). The final cost to study abroad through AIFS included tuition, housing, and 2 meals every day, and a support staff in the country. I really think that with all those things included, I probably paid less studying abroad in Costa Rica for the semester than I would've spent staying home (when I consider tuition, rent, groceries, gas money, all that). I REALLY appreicated the AIFS staff that was there in the country with us. They are native Costa Ricans, so they were completely knowledgeable about the country and any questions we had from what are the areas that are safe for us to go to where can I get my eyebrows done. Insurance was also included, Luckily I never had to take advantage of that, but I know that other students did. And the AIFS staff was there with them, in the hospital, being a mom away from home. It was very comforting to have them there. We had the freedom to be independent when we wanted and the opportunity to reach out for support when we needed. It's the best of both worlds. I'm extremely glad I chose AIFS. They really care about their students and providing the best and safest study abroad experience that they can.

What would you improve about this program?
Cheaper flight tickets and that make sense. I paid double what someone else leaving from Houston would have paid, and the flight went to Dallas, then Costa Rica even though there were flights with AIFS students that left from Houston and went straight to Costa Rica.
Yes, I recommend this program

The home away from home

This program is honestly once in a lifetime. From the matching of my Host family, from the personal accommodations that were easily made if something was not up to par, my semester in Costa Rica with AIFS was one that I will never forget. Going to a country by yourself for a semester can be nerve-wracking as was for me in the beginning, but AIFS made sure that right from the very beginning, I was taken care of. There is a huge list of things that I can pinpoint to why I would recommend this program to someone but the top three on the list would have to be because:
1.) The Program does not sugarcoat and always has your best interest in mind when it comes to literally everything.
2.) The experience of living with a host family allows you to fully emerge in the culture and interact in a family atmosphere.
3.) Costa Rica is just a fulfilling place to take a breather and celebrate life with other people who become family forever.

Yes, I recommend this program


I realized very quickly that San José is more of a travel city. If you wanted to do any of the things in travel magazines you have to travel at least 3 hours by car so during the week there wasn’t really much to get distracted by besides the museums and church if you’re into that. The destinations, once reached were very worth it but if you want to be located in a town where things are constantly going on keep that in mind. Overall the experience was great, I learned a lot about me and possible interests for the future.

Yes, I recommend this program

Study Abroad (with sloths!)

Freshman year of college, my roommate and I were lying on our dorm floor with at least 20 different study abroad catalogs spread between the two of us. We had highlighted, bookmarked, and put sticky notes all over these catalogs. Both of us knew we were going to work towards studying abroad and finding the right program was important to us. I chose AIFS not only due to the fact that it was incredibly cost- effective, provided three different travel opportunities included in the cost of the program, and gave us the option of a homestay, but also because of the interactions I had with the AIFS staff as they helped me through the process of applying for, and going, on this adventure to Costa Rica. Before, during, and after I was abroad, AIFS provided support, encouragement, and resources to make the entire process as easy as possible.

And what about Costa Rica? It is truly one of the most special places in the world. With the Pura Vida attitude, the incredible natural wonders, and the kindness and compassion shown by the Costa Rican people, it will always hold a special spot in my heart. I can not say enough good things about the time I had there through the travel and also in my classes. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to experience all that Costa Rica has to offer!

What would you improve about this program?
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Decision of your Life

When I came to Costa Rica I had no idea what to expect. At first I was so nervous but as soon as I was with the AIFS team, I knew this was exactly where i was supposed to be. This country has so much to offer and I have learned so much from it. Veritas University is so unique from any other school and I loved it. I have made some amazing friends that will stay in my life forever because once you feel pura vida in your life you never want to let go of it. "Pure Vida" is what they say down here. At first it sounds like just any other saying but it means so much more than that. When you feel pura vida in your life, you see life through a different lens. One that is more appreciative, pure and just happy. This country, this program, these amazing people having giving me one of the best journeys of my life. I cannot wait to take what I have learned back to the states with me. More importantly I cannot wait to come back here. What I also really liked about this program and why I chose this country compared to countries in Europe, is the experiences that if offers. While Europe is beautiful, Costa rica is full of constant adventure and doing things you would have never imagined doing, like jumping from 135 feet in the air, or seeing the top of a volcano, or traveling to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world! My final piece of advice is to stop think and just come to Costa Rica. You won't regret it.

Yes, I recommend this program

Living the Tica Life

Stepping onto a plane that would take me to another country alone was daunting, a country that speaks a different language, and a country where I knew no one. The plane ride consisted of nervous but good nerves, awaiting to see what would happen. The second I walked into my Tica (Costa Rican) house, I felt at home. My home stay family was more than welcoming and immediately brought me to their grandparents house for a birthday party. I became a part of the family in a way I never thought possible. Living with my family for four months created a bond that I think about everyday now. The amount of cultural immersion I experienced will never be taken for granted. AIFS paired me with a family that I am waiting to go back and see very soon. The cultural excursions that were included into the program forced me to get out there and see how traveling can be done so easily. I formed relationships with friends I still talk to today and I matured immensely over this time, being on my own but always having the support of AIFS to have my back. The classes I took at Veritas University were just as challenging as my classes here in the United States but my favorite part was the teachers. They were always using creative ways to help us learn and understand. I took tropical marine biology and what we learned in class was applied hand-on when we went snorkeling and had to identify what we learned in the classroom. This type of learning was so beneficial because we got to apply what we learned and see it in real life. Another class that I absolutely loved was Spanish for Health Professions. I learned how to speak to a patient in spanish and how to perform certain tasks, all in spanish. I plan moving onto Physician Assistant school following graduation and continuing my spanish for the health field is a goal of mine. Costa Rica had it all for me. Even though my friends who went to Europe got to travel to so many countries, I was able to explore in depth everything Costa Rica offered. Costa Rica is so diverse and I was able to go to both the Atlantic and Caribbean sides, the cloud rain forest, tropical rain forest, and to the mountains. Every trip was always an adventure and completely affordable. All I need now is a plane ticket to go back to the place that helped me find out who I really am.

What would you improve about this program?
I do not think anything could be improved. AIFS is the full package, offering a meal package, housing, cultural excursions, and much more.
Yes, I recommend this program

Pura Vida

Costa Rica was a little different than other Central American countries because there was a major focus on the biodiversity. There were so many places to go see animals in their natural habitat which is way better than caged animals in zoos. I was never interested in the environment but when I went there I learned a lot about animals, farms and how it impacts the community. This program provided a lot f weekend trips to visit different sides of the country. The classes that we took also took us on weekend field trips. They were all so fun because it is difficult going on our own. It was a great program to learn Spanish since we had intense Spanish courses. The social environment was a lot of fun and there was always time to go out and explore the city or other parts of the country. The beaches were beautiful and the people were great! Living with a host family was wonderful because we practiced our Spanish and ate traditional Costa Rican food! Overall, it was a great experience!

What would you improve about this program?
What maybe needs to be improved is better placements with students and host families. That can always be a problem especially when it comes to food schedules and options.
Yes, I recommend this program

An Unforgettable Journey

During the AIFS Summer 2012 Program in Costa Rica, I was definitely challenged academically as I was a true beginner at Spanish. I had taken only a month’s worth of Rosetta Stone before embarking on this journey to Costa Rica and there were many times when I felt overwhelmed and discouraged as the course kept progressing. However, I must admit I learned a lot of the language from my host family. Even after I was done with class, they continued to expose it to me. Looking back, I can honestly say that eating, talking, and living with my host family was my favorite part of the trip. In my Tropical Ecology course, we actually stayed overnight in the rainforest at the Tirimbina Reserve where I saw tons of awesome creatures during a nighttime tour! The weekend excursions we went on were remarkable and the views on our trip to Monte Verde were unbelievable. Some of the additional activities I was able to experience were hot springs, canopying and whitewater rafting. This was the first time I had ever gone beyond the country’s borders and studying abroad has made me enthusiastic about traveling. I also created a blog to document my trip abroad and I suggest that to everyone so the memories will never fade. If you’re considering this program, I highly recommend it and wish you the best of luck as you embark on an unforgettable journey of your own!

What would you improve about this program?
There was some confusion with the dates of my program and unfortunately the extra week conflicted with my schedule. My professors worked with me to take the exams early so worked out in the end though. That’s really the only thing I have to comment on. I was very pleased with the staff (specifically Rebecca Rankin and Elizabeth Escalante), the excursions, and the overall organization of the program. Everything about this experience was very easy as AIFS handled everything from the flights, to the transportation, to the housing assignments. I had nothing to worry about!
Yes, I recommend this program

Pura vida for sure

My study abroad experience in Costa Rica was phenomenal. My favorite aspect of the program was living in a homestay with a local family. It truly allowed me to be immersed in the culture in a way I wouldn't have been able to otherwise.

What would you improve about this program?
The optional trip to Panama was fun but it also felt like we were paying just to eat and drink lots of alcohol all weekend, and I wouldn't have signed up for it if I had known that. More than that however, our guides for the weekend were doing more drinking than any of us and I felt like that wasn't right and that they were taking advantage of the fact that there was alcohol available to us.
Yes, I recommend this program

This is where you need to go.

Choosing Veritas in San Jose, Costa Rica for my study abroad experience is something that I will certainly never regret. I could not have asked for a more wonderful journey. My familia tica was so comforting. I had a little sister, three dogs, and six other exchange students in my house. We all became best friends. My classes were great. I took Physical Therapy, Human Rights in Latin America, Theories of Tropical Dance, and two Spanish courses, which were the most rigorous but the most rewarding, as well. My favorite trip with AIFS was when we went to Manuel Antonio. The national park was amazing, the beaches were breathtaking, and I even got to see a sloth up close and personal. I made lifelong best friends while studying abroad in Costa Rica, from both Costa Rica and from all over the United States. I will always consider San Jose my second home, and I am already trying to plan a trip back there. You will not regret making this choice!

What would you improve about this program?
I would change the organization of flights. If I had known that I could have purchased my flight on my own (for cheaper) and still received a ride to my home stay from the airport via AIFS, then I definitely would have done that.
Yes, I recommend this program

Loved it!

I had never been outside the country before going to Costa Rica with AIFS and they made the process so easy. If you have ever thought about going abroad but have any kind of doubt or fear, think about going with AIFS. Everything is truly taken care of, from the flight to housing and meals. Costa Rica is a beautiful country and by going abroad for a semester, you have the opportunity to see all of the little known travel spots and get to know local culture. AIFS has set up excursions you do within the country and to neighboring Nicaragua and Panama. The classes were great and my Spanish improved tremendously. All these elements made my trip wonderful, but the best part by far was my home stay experience. My "mama tica" welcomed me with open arms and she truly changed my life. To all those thinking about studying abroad, do it. People often wait for a time where they are more ready, financially stable, or less scared. Sadly, if you wait for the perfect time it may never come. Studying abroad is a great experience and the AIFS Costa Rica program was the perfect fit for me.

What would you improve about this program?
Many American students choose to study in Costa Rica. While I met friends that I still keep in contact with from around the country, it can be easy to spend time speaking English instead of working on Spanish.
Yes, I recommend this program

A New Outlook

I was a little wary about the country after hearing about all the bad things that could happen abroad. But those things can happen anywhere, not specifically in another country. One of the things I remember enjoying was walking to the university. It was through a little neighborhood and I always ran into one of my fellow study abroad friends. I gained a whole new appreciation for the way people live and how they cherish the little things they have there. I did have some difficulty in conversing with the natives because I was no where near fluent in Spanish. I could only count from 1-10 before I went there. After my brief time in the country, I noticed I was able to hold a little conversation and could understand some of what the native students were saying. I wish I could go back.

Yes, I recommend this program

A Good Place to Start

Prior to September 2012, I had never travel outside of the United States, but Costa Rica is definitely the best place to travel, especially for the first experience. One of the key reasons that I chose AIFS was because of the optional flight package that they offer; I didn't have much experience in domestic airports, let alone airports in another country, so it was very comforting to have it already taken care of. Another advantage to the flight package is that I met many of the students in the program before I got to Costa Rica, one of which was my housemate.
The overall experience of Costa Rica was amazing; there was always an activity to do, yet we also had time to relax. My host family was the most amazing family ever, and we remain in contact. I always felt safe in the homestay, walking around San Jose, and on the excursions. The food was absolutely great, and it changed my diet when I got home.
AIFS also offers amazing optional excursions; I went only on the Panama excursion, and I regret not having done the excursion to Nicaragua. The activities offered through AIFS are varied and show the diversity of the culture of Costa Rica.
If I get a chance to study abroad through AIFS again, whether it be to Costa Rica or anywhere else, I would take it!!

Yes, I recommend this program

Lifelong love and friendship

I went to Costa Rica the first semester it was offered, 2 years ago. Since then I have not lost touch with the people who went with me, my mamatica and family, and friends I met there. I had the best time: white water rafting, zip lining, going to all the different volcanoes, horseback riding, and a whole other slew of Costa Rican sight seeing. Rebecca Castro, our Resident Director, was the most helpful and insightful on all things Costa Rica and helped me make plans for when my fiancee came to visit. The whole experience was life changing and when I left my Spanish was well above the level when I went. I would recommend AIFS to anyone who wants to have the experience of a lifetime and life long friends who I can now call family.

Yes, I recommend this program

Pura Vida!

Going to Costa Rica for a semester was undobutedly one of the best choices I have made in my life. I got to experience a culture different from mines and it was very eye-opening. Living in a household with a Costa Rican family allowed me to immerse myself in the language as well as the cuisine. Additionally, going on the different excursions were a blast, because I got to do things I thought I would never do (zip-lining and white water rafting). I would definitely encourage anyone to study abroad in Costa Rica. You will truly have an excellent time.

About AIFS Study Abroad

AIFS is a leading provider of study abroad programs. Since 1964, more than 1.5 million students have traveled abroad with AIFS. Comprehensive program fees make it convenient for students to study abroad and experience all that the world has to offer....

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