Costa Rica 2021

Costa Rica

Living in a Blue Zone

Explore beautiful Costa Rica, one of the five Blue Zones of the world, where people live measurably longer and healthier lives. Discover healthy lifeways through cooking classes, homestays, readings, dance lessons, and excursions to the farmer’s market and a coffee farm. See firsthand the challenges of sustainable travel as you visit a region that is home to cloud forests, volcanic hot springs, jungles, and breathtaking beaches.  Experience traditions through the national holiday of Guanacaste Day, and learn about the rich indigenous cultural heritage of the region by visiting Guaitil, a village dedicated to traditional Chorotega pottery.

Most importantly, the study abroad is carefully designed to improve your competency in Spanish. The language school has small class settings with Costa Rican, university-educated instructors. The classroom materials and lesson plans are developed in coordination with IU South Bend faculty.  Through the support of the host family, Spanish will become the language that you use on a daily basis.

Key locations:
  • Nicoya
  • Palo Verde National Park
  • Guiatil
  • Samara Beach (overnight excursion)
  • Rincón de la Vieja National Park
  • Rio Negro Hot Springs and Mud Baths

Students will enroll in two courses. Students at the 300–400 level may enroll in two courses in Spanish.

SPAN-T 190 and SPAN-S 290 are taught in English and do not fulfill language requirements. They are not applicable to the major/minor coursework in Spanish.

  • SPAN-S 102 Elementary Spanish 2; AND 

    SPAN-T 190 Literary and Intellectual Traditions; VT Costa Rica Study Abroad; OR 
    SPAN-S 290 Topics in Hispanic Culture
  • SPAN-S 203 Second Year Spanish 1; AND 

    SPAN-T 190 Literary and Intellectual Traditions; VT Costa Rica Study Abroad; OR 
    SPAN-S 290 Topics in Hispanic Culture 
  • SPAN-S 204 Second Year Spanish 2; AND 

    SPAN-T 190 Literary and Intellectual Traditions; VT Costa Rica; OR 
    SPAN-S 290 Topics in Hispanic Culture
  • SPAN-S 313 Writing Spanish 1; AND 

    SPAN-S 160 Spanish for Health Care Personnel I; OR 
    SPAN-S 317 Spanish Conversation and Diction Class; OR 
    SPAN-S 410 Contemporary Hispanic Culture and Conversation (P: SPAN-S 317); OR 
    SPAN-T 190 Literary and Intellectual Traditions; VT Costa Rica; OR 
    SPAN-S 290 Topics in Hispanic Culture
  • SPAN-S 410 Contemporary Hispanic Culture and Conversation; AND 

    SPAN-S 160 Spanish for Health Care Personnel I; OR 
    SPAN-S 313 Writing Spanish 1; OR 
    SPAN-S 421 Advanced Grammar and Composition (P: SPAN-S 313); OR 
    SPAN-T 190 Literary and Intellectual Traditions; VT Costa Rica Study Abroad; OR 
    SPAN-S 290 Topics in Hispanic Culture

All applications are due by March 1, 2021. A deposit of $300 is due by March 12, 2021 with the balance paid in full (or by commitment from Financial Aid) before departure. Trip costs will be posted to each student's account upon acceptance and full airfare may be non-refundable after April 1, 2021.

Apply early as space is limited.

  • Estimated Cost | $4000 (plus 6 cr. tuition and insurance)

Who best to tell you about this adventure, than the students!

I can honestly say I gained more confidence and knowledge in one month than I have in the past 6 years. Not only is it an incredibly enriching trip, but the memories you will take away from this trip are heartwarming and life changing. I have changed as a person and have made life-long friendships with my host family members. We stay in regular contact and it is neat to just get a random Facetime call from your Tico family.  A month is the perfect amount of time for studying abroad, in my opinion. It is not too long in terms of being away from your family and friends but it also isn't too short in terms of experiences and learning. I definitely plan on returning and visiting my Costa Rican family.

Everyone in Costa Rica was super friendly and I felt very safe when I was there. The people at the school and our homestay families were amazing and helped us with whatever we needed.

I had such an incredible experience in Costa Rica. As a student double majoring in Nursing and Spanish, I have been passionate about using both degrees together, and taking the medical terminology course in Costa Rica really allowed me to do so. I am now becoming a certified medical interpreter thanks not only to my Spanish major, but the Costa Rica program. Immersing myself in Costa Rica allowed me to grow as a Spanish speaker and become more confident in my abilities -- the Instituto really worked to tailor our learning experiences so each and every student was where they needed to be. Now that I am becoming a certified medical interpreter, I will be able to effectively communicate with and provide better care for my Spanish-speaking patients, and the medical terminology course gave me a solid foundation for my medical interpreter classes. Being a part of the Costa Rica program was an amazing opportunity, and living in a Blue Zone taught me so much. I have such a great appreciation for the Costa Rican people and culture and I definitely look forward to going back one day.

The academy where we studied was very welcoming and accommodating to our needs inside and outside the academy. Staying with a homestay family was overstimulating at first, in fact the trip itself was, but once we arrived I felt more at ease. It was not a perfect transition but it went smoothly once I established a routine. I enjoyed the food cooked by our homestay families and I also enjoyed the freedom of finding our own lunch.  All of the excursions were fantastic. Each excursion allowed me the opportunity to learn something new due to the diverse options we had. The course work was challenging at times, but I always felt as though I could ask for help when I needed it. Overall, Nicoya was a beautiful place to live and thrive. It felt like home. 

I think the greatest benefit of my experience in Costa Rica was obtaining a greater confidence in my abilities to speak and hear Spanish. While I did not realize this in the country, upon return, I was able to understand my Spanish speaking friends and professors as well as communicate my thoughts in a way I wasn't able to before going. Furthermore, the Costa Rica study abroad trip gave me the opportunity to experience a beautiful culture and environment that was so different from my own. Being able to try a variety of food, see beautiful, new views, and talk with people who thought differently than me has both prepared me for future experiences and given me new perspectives and ways of thinking.