Costa Rica: Country of Peace
With the Pacific Ocean on one coast and the Caribbean Sea on the other, Costa Rica is located on an isthmus - and that’s not the only thing that makes it unique. Read on for how this country offers study abroad opportunities like none other.
Contentment in Excess
With over four million people, Costa Rica is known for being peaceful; it’s had no army since 1949, and instead places an emphasis on learning and public education. What’s more is that the New Economics Foundation rated Costa Rica first in its 2012 Happy Planet Index, which is based on health and happiness - and it’s not hard to see why.
Here you can feed your inner adventurer by engaging in bungee jumping, surfing, canopy ziplining, or hiking. Dancing to styles like salsa, bachata, merengue, and cumbia encourage a vibrant activity for both young and old, and the locals enjoy a general philosophy of pura vida, or pure life, meaning “life is going well” or “full of life.” (Happiness is probably one of the many reasons Costa Ricans can assert a high life expectancy rate of 79 years!)
Not only are Costa Ricans an educated people, but they also relish the arts, music, and cuisine. Of the latter, be sure to samples dishes like gallo pinto, or spotted rooster, fried plantains, or casado, a dish with black beans and rice.
Rain or Shine
A location in the Southern Hemisphere has its advantages. Found between eight and 12 degrees north of the Equator, Costa Rica appreciates a tropical climate year-round, and has an uncharacteristic two seasons a year: winter, or the rainy season, which lasts from May to November, and summer, or the dry season, found December through April.
Should you find yourself there during winter, you would do well to pack clothing that dries quickly—items labeled “moisture-wicking” or “quick-dry” would surely fit the bill, or you could even consider silk! Summertime visitors would benefit from having available layers to wear: anything from a rain jacket to shorts and t-shirts. Costa Rica is known for casual attire, but you will want to have a few pieces that you can dress up should the occasion arise.
Manatees, Sloths, and Monkeys, Oh My!
Hailed as one of the most “green” countries, Costa Rica dedicates a large amount of governmental funding to protecting its ecological treasures. Visitors can expect an abundance of national parks to explore, as well as botanical gardens, nature reserves, volcanoes, and rain forests.
Once you’re done studying, you’ll have no shortage of activities to keep busy. Imagine yourself jaunting off to one of the country’s top attractions… consider kayaking Playa Jaco, a popular and beautiful beach found near San Jose; Bahía Drake, or Drake Bay, a bird watcher and hiker’s delight near the Osa Peninsula; the Arenal Volcano in the Northern Lowlands; or exploring Monteverde, an ecotourism haven and rainforest in the Central Highlands.
If your interests include biology or zoology, you have found an ideal place to study. Boasting 5% of the world’s biodiversity, Costa Rica is home to wildlife of all kinds. You may feel you’re in a zoo-like setting with exciting opportunities awaiting: take examining the habits of a multitude of different monkeys (howler, spider, and squirrel, to name a few varieties), or spying the unusual tapir (a seeming hybrid of rhinoceros, elephant, and pig), as just two examples.
Travel and Talk
Make note that you’ll need a passport to enter Costa Rica as well as a yellow fever vaccination certification. But to actually get to Costa Rica, you’ll have the option of traveling by plane to either Juan Santamaría Airport or Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport, or by car on the Pan-American Highway, which travels through Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and on to Panama.
Browse Study Abroad in Costa Rica Programs
Once there and depending on which university you choose, you’ll be able to get around on foot, of course, but also by public bus, rental car, taxi, or the ever-exciting rental motorcycle. And though Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica, in major metropolitan areas especially, you’ll find English is still widely used. Though, what better way to improve your Spanish than by practicing it during your stay!
Volunteering, interning, or learning a new language and more… Explore our options for study abroad programs in Costa Rica—you won’t be disappointed