Escape from the winter blues to study and explore one of the most environmentally diverse countries on the planet. For three or four weeks during January, you can spend your winter vacation studying, visiting beaches, and exploring the rainforest. Our January in Costa Rica program is not only a great use of your winter vacation, it’s also an amazing opportunity to gain some additional credit hours. You can take an intensive Spanish course designed to improve your language ability. Or maybe you would prefer to take a robust ecology course. Whatever your preference, great options—and warmth—await you in Costa Rica.
- GPA Requirement
- Application Deadlines
- Avg Course Load
- 1 Course (4 to 5 US credits)
- Language(s) of Instruction
- English or Spanish
Key Program Highlights
- Convenient three or four-week options
- Course tracks in intensive Spanish or tropical ecology
- Spanish classes at all levels with no prerequisites
- Homestays with friendly, local families
- Hands-on experience with tropical ecology class trips
- Spend your winter soaking up the sun in tropical Costa Rica
Your Journey Begins Here
Connect with your Global Advisor to start planning. Apply by the application deadline.
Meet your Program Coordinator to finalize acceptance paperwork, housing, courses, flights, visas, payments, etc. Attend a pre-departure orientation.
Fly away. You'll be greeted at the airport, participate in a robust On-site Orientation and La Vida Local Curriculum with your Site Director.
Life in San José
Welcome and Orientation
On your first day in Costa Rica, you’ll have a chance to walk and get to know your new city. See important landmarks in downtown San Jose, such as the National Theater and Gold Museum, and enjoy the welcome lunch where you’ll try some local goodies! During orientation you’ll learn all about excursions, the university, your home stays, and life in Costa Rica.
Farewell and Re-entry Program
Though you’re not an astronaut returning from space, re-entering your home culture after being abroad can be shocking to the system. We’ll walk you through some of the things to expect, rehash your time abroad so that you can remember the highlights and, yep, we’ll feed you again as part of our farewell to Costa Rica.
In Costa Rica, you’ll live in a homestay, the perfect way to truly immerse yourself in the Costa Rican lifestyle! You’ll live with a host family located within walking distance of the university, and you’ll have access to public transportation that will take you to the heart of San José.
- Private room
- Towels, bed linens, blankets, and pillows provided by your host family
- Access to the kitchen and a weekly laundry service
- Your family will provide two tasty traditional Costa Rican meals for you each day, usually breakfasts and dinners
- National Theater: Enjoy the tour and learn all about the history and architecture of this gem of San Jose!
- Coffee, coffee, coffee!: Try some of the world's best coffee in one of the many coffee shops around town, or take the Coffee Tour, where you'll learn about the history of Costa Rica and coffee production in the country.
- Art City Tour: Take advantage of this one night where all the museums in San Jose are open to the public (that's right, they're free!!). You'll also have a chance to see some amazing dance and music performances, as well as buy designer products made by locals!
- Volunteering: Take part in a volunteer project and give back to the community. Paint a school, work with children, or visit Territorio de Zaguates, a local dog sanctuary home to over 900 lucky dogs! Take some time to go play with the pups in this Dog Heaven and help out the organization.
More About San José
San José is the bustling capital of Costa Rica and the place to learn about the country’s fascinating culture. Food, art, and people flow in from all directions. Likewise, you can use the capital as your launching point to discover the rest of this friendly country. Beautiful national parks, picturesque mountain villages, and relaxed beach towns are nearby and easily accessible. Spend your weekends exploring volcanoes, zip-lining through the jungle, or visiting a sloth sanctuary.
As a CISabroad student in San José, you'll get to know local Costa Ricans (aka Ticos), who have a friendly, laid-back demeanor. Local classmates will show you the meaning of pura vida. Being minutes from the heart of the Costa Rican capital, you can explore the city with ease. Imagine sipping some of the best coffee in the world and nibbling on a churro with friends at a local café.
Chepe, as the city is known locally, is famed for its National Theater, busy market life, and easy-to-use public transportation. There are plenty of international restaurants, ranging from Lebanese to Italian, in addition to local sodas, where you can eat large helpings of gallo pinto, the delicious national dish. Visitors and residents adore the street food in San José or grabbing a cheap and cheerful meal at Mercado Central. After class, you can head to one of the many local theaters, concert venues, cinemas, or salsa clubs. Then, spend the evening with new friends in the Plaza de la Cultura watching the pigeons and a marimba band. It doesn’t get much better than this.
While participating on a CISabroad program, you'll be able to take part in built-in weekend and day trips at no additional cost. The number and type of excursions included in your program will vary depending on your course and the length of program. If you are participating on the January Spanish Intensive in Costa Rica program, there is one day trip and one weekend excursion included in your program fee. Tropical Ecology students, on the other hand, will attend at least one day trip and have two weekend field trips as part of their course. These trips are subject to change from term to term; listed below are excursions that have run in the past.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
The mountainous area of Monteverde is dense with tropical rainforest. At an altitude of over 1,000 meters, the trees capture cloud moisture, often giving the area 100 percent humidity. In this reserve, you'll see the staggering environmental diversity from skywalks and bridges suspended 60 meters up in the canopy.
Located on the northwest Pacific coast, Tamarindo Bay is ideal if you're looking for an adrenaline rush or some down time on the beach. Swim, surf, sail, kayak, or jet ski in the ocean -- or ride horses on the beach! Plus, you can visit the leatherback turtle reserves to spot these incredible creatures.
Arenal Volcano and Baldi Hot Springs
Take a hike down to the La Fortuna Waterfall, where you'll be able to swim in the cool water. Soak in the naturally heated waters of Baldi Hot Springs and enjoy the view of Arenal, which is a perfect cone volcano.
If you find your GPA is lower than the requirement listed at the top of this page, do not despair! Get in touch to let us know your situation. In many cases, there are additional application materials that you can submit to make your case for acceptance.
How to Choose Your Courses
Now the fun part! You get to pick the courses you will take abroad. Review the course information on this page and once you’ve decided which courses you want to take. Fill out the CISabroad Course Selection Worksheet in your online portal.
Make sure to talk with your home university about course approval and get additional classes approved before you go abroad. For example, if you are taking 4 classes abroad, we recommend getting 8 approved. This gives you some flexibility in setting up your class schedule. Think about courses required for your major, but also courses that fulfill your elective requirements.
Choose your courses, making sure to get them approved by your home university and then fill out the Course Selection Worksheet.
On January in Costa Rica, you’ll study at Universidad Veritas, located in San José, the capital of Costa Rica. There are two different options for this program.
Spanish Intensive option: During the 4-week program, you’ll take one Spanish-language course at any level and have time every afternoon to further practice your Spanish and get to know this great city. Course load: 1 course (5 U.S. credits)
Tropical Ecology option: Are you ready for a unique learning experience? During the 3-week Tropical Ecology option, you will have the opportunity to get a hands-on, intensive introduction to tropical ecology in a country that is home to a variety of unique ecosystems, including the tropical rain forest, cloud forest, coral reefs, and mangroves. Course load: 1 course (4 U.S. credits)
Course approval for Spanish language: placement exam
When selecting a Spanish-language course, choose the one whose description best reflects your current abilities. Once you’re accepted into the program, we will send you instructions for taking an online placement exam so that Veritas can begin to assess your level of Spanish. Following the online (written) placement exam, you will be assessed orally by staff in Costa Rica via Skype, allowing you to be placed in the most appropriate language level before you arrive in Costa Rica.
Class descriptions and catalog:
Click here to view available Spanish courses.
Click Here to view Tropical Ecology Syllabus.
Located minutes from the heart of San José, Universidad Veritas is considered one of the best private universities in all of Central America. Students flock to the Universidad Veritas for its art, design, and architecture programs, but the university offers so much more.
You can take courses in a range of topics, such as Costa Rican culture, environmental studies, or political science. Study in English or Spanish depending on your needs. If you're looking to improve your Spanish language skills, Veritas' Spanish language program is for you. Enjoy small class sizes that give you one-on-one attention, whether you're a beginner or an advanced Spanish speaker.
Veritas offers many cultural, artistic, and athletic activities so you can dive deep into the local culture. You can improve your Spanish outside of the classroom with a Costa Rican language-exchange partner. You can join on-campus activities, such as dance or cooking classes and intramural sports. Finally, you can get to know the community through local excursions or volunteer opportunities. With 1,500 Costa Rican students and over 500 students from around the world, you'll benefit from a close-knit but cosmopolitan campus.
Founded in 1976, Veritas is the first private university in Costa Rica.
Accredited by the Costa Rican Ministry of Education and authorized by the National Council of Private Higher Education (Consejo Nacional de Enseñanza Superior Privada, or CONESUP)
Ethan Harris - Luther College
Program SupportMeet Our Staff
Before, during, and after your study abroad experience, you’ll be supported by the dedicated and passionate CISabroad staff. Our goal is quick responses to your questions before you depart, and even quicker once you’ve arrived on site.
Robust Advising Center
Our team of advisors will help you choose a program, connect with your home university regarding classes and financial aid and get you prepared to apply for your program.
Team of Dedicated Program Coordinators
Your Program Coordinator will assist you in finalizing housing, enrolling in courses, booking flights, obtaining visas, arranging payments, and provide pre-departure orientation.
Experienced On-site Staff
From greeting you at the airport to a robust On-site Orientation to La Vida Local Activities our on-site staff will be there to support you throughout your time on-site.
Our support doesn’t end when your program does. We have alumni programming, webinars, and resources to help you readjust when you’ve returned from your experience.
Your Support Staff
Global Advising Team
Program Coordinator - Spain, Latin America, January Mediterranean Culture
Site Director in Costa Rica
January 2019: Intensive Spanish
Application DeadlineOctober 15ArrivalJanuary 5 (Estimated)OrientationJanuary 6 (Estimated)Classes StartJanuary 7 (Estimated)Classes EndFebruary 1 (Estimated)DepartureFebruary 2 (Estimated)PRICE$3,690 (Estimated)
January 2019: Tropical Ecology
Application DeadlineOctober 15ArrivalJanuary 5 (Estimated)OrientationJanuary 6 (Estimated)Classes StartJanuary 7 (Estimated)Classes EndJanuary 25 (Estimated)DepartureJanuary 26 (Estimated)PRICE$3,690 (Estimated)
CISabroad reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partner universities.
As with all study abroad programs, you should count on a few additional expenses.
Program fees are in US dollars and include the following:
- Full-time tuition and fees
- Breakfast and dinner
- Medical and accident insurance
- CISabroad support services before, during, and after the program
- Academic advising
- Financial aid counseling
- Assistance with travel arrangements
- Predeparture orientation
- Airport pickup
- Universidad Veritas orientation
- One day trip and one weekend excursion (Spanish Intensive)
- On-site support
- On-campus internet access
- Weekly laundry
- Universidad Veritas official transcript
- NYTimes Digital Subscription
- La Vida Local cultural program