January in Costa Rica
Universidad Veritas

Best Value
Gap Year Friendly

Spend January studying Spanish or Ecology in a tropical wonderland.

Escape from the winter blues to study and explore in the beautiful capital of Costa Rica, San José! For 3-4 weeks during January, spend your winter vacation studying, visiting beaches, and exploring the rainforest. The January in Costa Rica program is not only a great way to spend your winter vacation, it’ also an amazing opportunity to gain some additional credit hours. Choose an intensive Spanish course, designed to improve your language ability, or a robust ecology course that showcases the nearby rainforest.


What to Expect:

  • Language: English or Spanish
  • Average Courseload: 1 course (4-5 U.S. credits)
  • GPA Requirement: 2.5

Highlights:

  • One of the most environmentally diverse countries on the planet
  • Course tracks in intensive Spanish or tropical ecology
  • Spanish classes at all levels with no prerequisites
  • Homestays with friendly, local families
  • Study at a highly ranked private university in San Jose

Program Details

Universidad Veritas

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)

Areas of study with fewer than 3 classes available

  • Natural & Applied Sciences

Don't see your major listed here? There may still be courses available. Browse our programs by major.

Areas of study with 3 to 7 classes available

  • Spanish

Don't see your major listed here? There may still be courses available. Browse our programs by major.

On January in Costa Rica, you’ll study at Universidad Veritas, located in San Josç, 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.

Why Life in 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 CIS Abroad 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.

Live La Vida Local

  • 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.

Homestay in San Jose

Location

You’ll really immerse yourself with a homestay! Our experienced homestay families are fully vetted to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for you. Most of the host families (95 percent) are located within walking distance of the university, although students can also use public transportation. Students typically say that living with a local family was their favorite part of traveling abroad.

Meals

You’ll need to buy your own lunch, but your host family will cook you both breakfast and dinner. What better way to experience true Tico cooking!?

Inclusions and Amenities

  • Bed linens
  • CommuteWalkingPublic Transportation
  • Laundry
  • Meals
  • Private Room

What's Included

Inclusions

Program fees are in US dollars and include the following:

  • Full-time tuition and fees
  • Homestay
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • Medical and accident insurance
  • CIS Abroad 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
  • La Vida Local cultural program

Welcome & 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, your home stay, and what to expect of your time in Costa Rica.

Farewell & 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.

Program Excursions

While participating on a CIS Abroad program, you'll be able to take part in built-in day trips at no additional cost. These trips are subject to change from term to term; listed below are excursions that have run in the past.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

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.

Tamarindo

Tamarindo

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

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.

Site Director

Lisa Pinheiro
Travel Tip:

Dont limit yourself to the more popular tourist spots. There are tons of lesser known places that are beautiful and rich in culture where you can really experience what Costa Rica is all about!

Travel Tip:

Dont limit yourself to the more popular tourist spots. There are tons of lesser known places that are beautiful and rich in culture where you can really experience what Costa Rica is all about!

About:

Lisa was born in Costa Rica and has lived in the United States on several occasions. She is an alumni of Veritas University, where she majored in photography, and is currently pursuing her bachelors degree in Tourism and Hotel Management. She is passionate about travel, and has had 10 years of experience leading study abroad groups all throughout Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. In her free time Lisa enjoys going to art exhibits, watching movies, dancing and learning new languages. She speaks Spanish, English and Portuguese, and is currently learning French.

Your Support Staff

Global Advising Team
Travel Tip:

We love what we do and want to talk to you! The Global Advising Center is here to help you decide on a program, and complete the Online Application. From the moment you first hear from us—be it through a text, phone call, email or personal visit—you will find that our passion for international education is contagious. We’re ready to launch you abroad.

Hadley Byrne
Travel Tip:

When in doubt, reach out! More often than not, locals will respect and respond matching the effort that you put into communication. Practice makes perfect, and leaving your comfort zone means expanding your comfort zone!

Alexandra Woolner
Travel Tip:

Expect the unexpected! Sometimes culture shock is stronger in countries where you expect things to be more similar to your home country and environment. Traveling abroad is an excellent way to learn more about your own culture, habits, style, and adaptability.

COVID-19 Plan

COVID-19 Plan

We believe that study abroad is still possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, but certain policies and procedures will need to be in place to ensure every student can be safe and healthy during their semester abroad.

We monitor international indicators and health standards in the country and our risk management team makes decisions based on those and our own policy. We will make a decision no less than 45 days before a program starts what options are available to you and what the contingency plan is for your program. We will do all that we can to support you during this time.

Learn more about CIS Abroad’s Risk Management Team’s three step process for operating  our programs around the world and important program refund policies.

On-Site Program Modifications

We are excited to offer you this program after many months of travel restrictions! Just as you’ve experienced at home, many aspects of day-to-day life and program components may be altered to keep you and the community you are visiting safe. These may include single accommodations, certain academic offerings being delivered online, safety protocols such as mask-wearing, and other changes.

While some excursions and activities we’ve offered in the past may not be available, we do know that you’ll still be able to soak in the beauty of the country and immerse yourself in the local culture.

Prices and dates are subject to change based on any changes that are required to accommodate changing local laws and guidelines.

See our COVID-19 page for more information. Speak to your Program Coordinator or Advising Team for the most up to date information about any changes to this program.

Dates & Prices

ADVISOR TIP: Please WAIT to book flights until you have received confirmed dates in your acceptance paperwork. Dates posted here are subject to change.

  • Application Deadline: Oct 15 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: January 4 (Estimated)
  • Departure: January 28 (Estimated)
  • Price: $3,790
  • Application Deadline: Oct 15 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: January 4 (Estimated)
  • Departure: February 1 (Estimated)
  • Price: $3,790
Additional Information:

As with all study abroad programs, you should count on a few additional expenses.

CIS Abroad reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partner universities.