Overview

Studying abroad in Costa Rica gives you the chance to immerse yourself in a culture where “pura vida” is not just a saying, it is an appreciation of the natural beauty and friendliness of its people. This is your chance to have the adventure of a lifetime while learning Spanish and about the Costa Rican way of life.

Program at a Glance:

  • Host family accommodation provides full language & culture immersion
  • You can choose between trimester, semester or academic year lengths
  • Straightforward online application process
  • Available in the spring or fall
  • No previous language experience required — beginners welcome!

Our alumna Leah Miller shares her reflections on her Costa Rica program:

“My exchange made me more sure about what I want to do in life because of the cultural and historical influences I experienced. No matter how much I love my high school, now I will always want to get on a plane and travel to explore other cultures. Thanks to this experience, I also know that I can do it! And it made me prepared to work hard for the things that I really want. I may not be the most normal person, but this experience taught me that travel is where I belong. It made me confident that that’s what I need to be doing with my life.” – Leah Miller, 2017 Greenheart Travel high school abroad alumna

 

 

 

 

 

Program Dates

Dates subject to change

Academic Year:
Dates: July – June
Application Deadline: May 1

Fall Semester:
Dates: July– January
Application Deadline: May 1

Fall Trimester:
Dates: July– November
Application Deadline: May 1

Spring Semester:
Dates: February – June
Application Deadline: Oct. 1
$500 Early Application Discount: Apply by June 24

Spring Trimester:
Dates: February – April
Application Deadline: Oct. 1
$300 Early Application Discount: Apply by June 24

Summer Language Camp Option:
Can’t go for a full semester? Check out our 2-4 week summer language camp options in Costa Rica or Spain! 

Academic Info

The government of Costa Rica invests much of its funding toward their education system. To fully embrace your local Costa Rican community you will attend a public school and all of your classes will be taught in Spanish. Mandatory school uniforms minimize economic differences among classmates and will make your packing process much easier! Typical classes include; Math, Spanish, English, Science, Geography and Agriculture.

Before You Go Abroad

You should meet with your US high school before you leave and share the general curriculum guidelines of your host country with your guidance counselor and/or teachers. Please consult with them about the credits they will potentially grant you for the classes you take while abroad.

Because the curriculum will vary by country, it is important that you arrange required classes required for your graduation, such as U.S. History, before or after your time abroad. There are no guarantees that you can take certain classes at your host school. Greenheart Travel will be able to provide information about the general curriculum for your age level in your host country; however, in most cases you will not be able to sign up for specific courses until AFTER you have arrived in your host country.

Once You’re Abroad

Please keep in mind that the grading system in other countries is different than the US. Most host schools will not grant grades or transcripts as it is too difficult to evaluate your work due to the language barrier. If your host school is able to award you grades, they won’t be an exact match to what you would get in the US.

Throughout your time abroad you can also participate in organized activities, excursions, and short trips for a chance to see life beyond your host community. Sample some delicious BBQ while meeting new friends, take a hiking tour in the rain forest, or experience the thrill of seeing the Arenal volcano up close during your time in Costa Rica! These are just a few of the possible adventures you could enjoy during your high school abroad program.

What do our alumni say about their experience studying abroad?

Not only has my High School Year Abroad with Greenheart Travel helped me learn Spanish as a second language, but it has also exposed me to different lifestyles and customs. Through living with a host family, attending school in a small, coffee-farming town & developing friendships with local students, I have gained entirely new perspectives and experiences. Studying abroad has given me the opportunity to change the way I see myself and everything around me, and that it a gift that I will cherish and benefit from for the rest of my life.” — Rachel Maloney, high school abroad alumni 2016

Eligibility

In researching a study abroad program, you have already shown you are a leader and open-minded in your academic pursuits. These are just a few of the traits that our exchange students possess. You’re motivated to immerse yourself in another culture and flexible enough to live outside your comfort zone. You should also:

  • Be between 14 and 18 years of age
  • Be from the United States or Canada
  • Possess a high school cumulative GPA of at least 2.75/4.0
  • Be in great mental* and physical health
  • Have a genuine interest in becoming a part of your host family and community
  • Be willing to study and learn Spanish. If your command of Spanish is not sufficient to follow lessons in school, you will be expected to take additional language lessons at your own cost

Check out our summer language camp program in Costa Rica to get a head start on your Spanish skills.

*What does it mean to be in good mental health?
Moving to a new culture and staying in unfamiliar surroundings without your normal support structure can be very stressful, even to the most well-adjusted student. Sending a student with pre-existing conditions on a long term exchange program could exacerbate whatever challenges the student was previously facing. In order to ensure the safety of our participants, we must be rigorous in our pre-screening of (High School Abroad/Teen summer Language Camp) candidates. Learn more in our FAQs section.

 

Costs

Academic Trimester: $5,910
Academic Semester: $10,070
Academic Year: $13,190

Prices subject to change

What’s included in the program fee:

  • Roundtrip international airfare from Miami to San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Host family accommodations and 3 meals per day
  • Medical/Accident Insurance
  • Support and counseling services from in-country staff
  • 24 hour emergency support
  • Pre-departure orientations
    • General Pre-Departure Orientation (in person or via Skype)
    • Cultural Pre-Departure Orientation (via Skype)
  • Greeting upon arrival at San Jose airport
  • Arrival Orientation in San Jose
  • Personal assistance from Greenheart Travel Program Manager
  • Letter of recommendation upon request and successful completion of the program
  • Assigned mentor, prior to departure, upon request

Greenheart Travel also donates a portion of your fee to offset the carbon footprint of your travels.

Accommodation

The best way to learn about a new culture and language is to be fully immersed in it which is why all Greenheart Travel high school abroad students live with local host families. All of our host families are volunteers and will treat you as a member of their family. By being a part of your family’s daily life, you will learn to live and speak like a local.

Prospective host families undergo a rigorous screening process. Participants can rest assured that only suitable host families will be selected. In fact, many of our current host families have hosted students in the past, showing what an impactful experience it was.

In order to qualify as a host family, the prospective hosts must:

  • Successfully pass a criminal background check
  • Undergo and pass an in-person interview with program staff
  • Agree to and pass a home inspection

We will connect you with your host family prior to your arrival in your host country. By e-mailing and speaking with them before arriving, it will help break the ice when you finally meet in person. It will also show that you are as excited to live with them as they are to host you!

 

Placement FAQs:

Can I choose where I will be placed with my host family?
No. You can choose your destination country, but you must be flexible about where you are placed within that country. We make it a priority to place students with host families that closely match your interests and personality. For this reason we work first to find a suitable family rather than a destination preference. We can never guarantee placements in any specific city or region, and we match based on compatibility with the host family. 

I know a family in my program country that would like to host me. Is that possible?

This is possible as long as we have a support network in the family’s host community and there is an available nearby host school.

Will I be placed in a city?

No. It is very unlikely you will be placed in a city. A majority of our families live in small to medium sized towns outside of major cities, and it is important you be open-minded to small town life.

Will I have a host sibling my age?

There is no guarantee that you will have a host sibling your age. Your host family may have young children, teenage children, or grown children who no longer live at home. Regardless of the age of your host siblings, they’ll be excited to welcome into the family!

What if I don’t like my host family? Can I request a new one?

No. We do not change host families based on preferences or location. However, if issues arise once you are on the program, we will handle them on a case-by-case basis and may make changes if necessary.

 

For Parents

The decision to send your teenager abroad can be difficult and there are a lot of questions to consider. We understand your concerns and the Greenheart Travel staff is there for you every step of the way! For us, it is important that parents be involved in the decision from day one.

We want to make the process of studying abroad as fun and painless as possible for you and your child, while also ensuring that it is a successful and life-changing adventure! You can learn more about our values and the services we provide to you and your child here.

Below are some of the common questions we get from parents as they consider our study abroad program:

What does it mean to be in good mental health?

Moving to a new culture and staying in unfamiliar surroundings without your normal support structure can be very stressful, even to a well-adjusted student. Sending a student with pre-existing conditions on a long-term exchange program could exacerbate whatever challenges the student was previously facing. In order to ensure the safety of our participants, we must be rigorous in our pre-screening of all high school abroad applicants.

Therefore, we cannot accept students who have struggled with any kind of mental illness within the last 2 years and/or are reliant on medication to address their existing mental health condition.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Depression
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Debilitating anxiety
  • Eating disorders

If the student’s mental health issue has been resolved (post-medication) for over 2 years, we will ask for a note from his/her relevant practitioner (psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, etc) as part of the application process.

 

What kind of assistance will my child receive while abroad?

There is a strong network of people working together to ensure your child’s time abroad is successful. This includes the Greenheart Travel program manager in the U.S., the natural parents, the local coordinator abroad in country, the host school, and the host family. Immediate assistance will be provided by the local coordinator and/or host family according to a robust chain of communication, explained prior to departure.

 

Do you offer any scholarships, financial aid, or special discounts?

Yes. Every year we offer various scholarships for select high school program destinations. There are two Early Bird Deadline discounts offered each year as well. See our Discounts and Deadlines section for more information. If you have hosted a student for CCI Greenheart, you are also eligible for a Greenheart Host Family discount.

 

My child’s school requires service learning in order to graduate. How will they do that abroad?

Greenheart Travel is proud to offer the Greenheart Club for all of our students. The Greenheart Club challenges our participants to pursue a deeper level of immersion through volunteerism. As a member of the Greenheart Club, your child will receive guidance in strategizing creative ways to give back to their community, have access to tools for tracking their impact and receive incentives for their efforts as a global leader. This is a great chance for your child to get to know the local community outside of the classroom while they study abroad.

 

Can friends study abroad together?

Our programs are based on a full, cultural immersion experience so friends are not allowed to study abroad together in the same host town. Don’t worry though; making friends in the new host country will happen quickly!

 

Can my child come home to visit or can we visit them while abroad?

No. Visits are not allowed during the high school program. If your family wishes to visit, you should plan to meet your child after your program is completed. In this instance, Greenheart Travel’s National office and international partner office should be informed of your family’s plans.

 

Does my child need to be fluent in another language?

No. One of the main goals of studying abroad is to become fluent in another language while living overseas. The host family and school will not expect your child to be fluent when they first arrive and will help them improve their language skills. As long as your child tries their best, they’ll pick up the language sooner than you might think!

 

Can my child take the SATs while abroad?

You child will not be able to take the SAT’s while abroad.  We highly recommend taking the SAT’s prior to or after the program.

 

My child has already graduated, are they still eligible?

On a case by case basis, we can accept graduated students for Argentina, Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

 

Can we speak to current high school students or alumni?

Yes! Check out our blog or your child can join our exclusive teen  programs Facebook group to talk to current and past students.