Spend 2 weeks learning about permaculture farming, indigenous cultures, the interconnectedness of local ecosystems, and see how you can mindfully engage with each of these.
Break away from the traditional! This special language immersion experience is specifically designed for those who consider themselves agents of change and are excited to embody Greenheart’s mission to connect people and planet. On top of Spanish classes and local homestays in both Heredia and Samara, you will complete workshops to learn valuable leadership and empowerment skills that will set you on a path of creatively charged social change. At the same time, you will be diving into fun, challenging adventures in a beautiful country known by the UN as the “Champion of the Earth”.
Each week will be packed with interesting and adventurous activities that connect you with local initiatives working towards a healthier world for all of us. During the week, you will have workshops that focus on leadership, communication, empathy, and mindfulness. While immersing yourself in Spanish language and Costa Rican culture, you will also learn from local change-makers, get inspired by sustainability and environmental initiatives, and learn tools to become an agent of change yourself. By the end of camp, you will see how all these pieces fit together–and that the future is yours to create.
On top of all this, you’ll have time to chill on the beach, soak in some sun and surf, gaze at the stars, snuggle up around a bonfire, and build relationships with other young people as motivated and awesome as yourself.
You won’t be partaking in typical tourist activities. We offer experiences with companies and organizations that work towards a more sustainable planet for all of us! Learn about permaculture farming, indigenous cultures, the interconnectedness of local ecosystems, and see how you can mindfully engage with each of these.
*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 may not be able to accept students who have struggled with any kind of mental illness, specifically within the last 2 years and/or are reliant on medication to address their existing mental health condition. Each student will be addressed on a case by case basis and ultimately it is Greenheart Travel’s in-country partner who holds the right to accept or decline a student based on their individual policy.
These include, but are not limited to:
All students who currently experience one or more of these conditions will be required to submit an addendum to the terms and conditions as well as a letter of support from their current mental health specialist. If the student’s mental health issue has been managed (post-medication) for over 2 years, we will still require a note from his/her relevant practitioner (psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, etc) as part of the application process. We encourage you to discuss your specific situation with us directly before securing these documents.
There are two locations that you will be transferred between mid-program. Both locations offer a well-connected network of host families within walking distance of the schools.
Heredia City campus is located in a beautiful area just north of San Jose. Experience the cultural potency of urban Costa Rica!
You will enjoy learning Spanish in a welcoming city environment, with very few tourists, surrounded by hills and volcanoes. Heredia’s weather is breezy and pleasantly warm year-round, ideal for both learning Spanish and exploring after school.
The province of Heredia is the coffee-growing capital of Costa Rica, and in the countryside you will still occasionally see loaded ox-carts bringing in the beans from the coffee plantations characteristic of the green mountainsides. In the nearby rural villages you will witness a way of life very different to that of the cities, and can see vestiges of the old colonial architecture once typical in the entire central valley.
The Samara campus is in a gorgeous beach town on the west coast of Costa Rica – the school is right on the sand!
Spanish courses are given in modern, air-conditioned classrooms, all with a view of the ocean, providing an ideal spot for learning Spanish at the beach. Sometimes our teachers take students outside to hold a class or conversation hour in the gardens or on the beach under the shade of the palm trees. Our facilities provide student computers and free WiFi to students, tropical gardens leading straight onto the sand (students have time for a quick dip in the ocean during their break!), as well as student social and study areas, rancho, fridge, hammocks, a lounge and outdoor showers.
** Due to the unique pandemic entry requirements imposed by the Costa Rican government, all students will be responsible for an additional $150/week for the cost of insurance. **
Worried about the program fee?
Our goal is to help make travel accessible to everyone and we are here to help when you are deciding if this experience is financially do-able. Each year we offer scholarships for high school study abroad students! We also have a guide to fundraising your program fee, and many high school students fundraise in their hometown ahead of their program.
We also offer discounts for applying early (plus there are many other benefits to applying early!) for each start date and for US families that have hosted an exchange student with Greenheart Exchange.
Please inquire here if you have questions about the program fee, scholarships, or fundraising for your program.
All students fly on their own to Costa Rica. Host families will be waiting for each student upon arrival!
Arriving or departing outside these designated windows will incur additional fees.
Please note: Participants are not allowed to go out at night outside the homestay unless accompanied by a chaperone.
All students live with carefully selected local host families around 20-30 minutes’ walking distance from the language school. Prospective host families undergo a rigorous screening process. Participants can rest assured that only suitable host families will be selected. In order to qualify as a host family, the prospective hosts must:
Usually, two students will share a room and there can be up to 4 students with one host family. They will only share rooms with students of the same sex and will be closely supervised by their hosts.
Here’s why we love host families:
Please refer to our COVID-19 blog for the most up-to-date information on current programming.
As of November 1, 2020, Costa Rica will allow residents of all 50 U.S. states to enter the country. We will be continually monitoring the health and wellness and entry requirements for Costa Rica, but as of November 2020 this program is scheduled to run as planned for Summer 2021.
Closer to your start date, you will participate in an online pre-departure training with a Greenheart Travel staff member. The details will be provided to you upon acceptance onto the program. During this online training, the Greenheart Travel staff member will provide any specific COVID-19 guidelines or entry requirements (such as getting a COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to departure). All students will be required to adhere to any local or federal government guidelines while on program, such as wearing a mask and maintaining six feet of distance with anyone outside of this program. These will be discussed with students during the online pre-departure as well as upon arrival. Guidelines, requirements, and restrictions change frequently, so we will give you the most accurate information as possible as close to your start date as possible.
While we plan to run this program without issues in Summer 2021, we will evaluate program start dates 6 weeks prior. If we determine the start date is unable to run successfully due to concerns like health or entry restrictions, students will have deferral and partial refund options. Please refer to our COVID-19 Cancellation and Refund Policy for more details.
The Adventure and Leadership language camp is designed specifically for students who wish to become agents of change in their local communities. We recommend this program to anyone who feels a strong urge to be a part of impacting others and affecting issues in which they find inspiration.
Students are supervised and chaperoned at most times. This program is very structured, which means not a lot of time will be spent alone. If students do wish to explore the surrounding area, they must be in contact with their host family and local coordinator.
Flights to Costa Rica are not included in the program fee. Students are responsible for booking their round-trip airfare to San Jose International Airport. We will collect your itinerary to organize your arrival and airport pickup.
Greenheart Travel does not recommend this service because the “additional” services advertised by the airlines are already provided to all travelers and are not worth the money invested by you the traveler. At any time, a student can ask an airlines professional for help finding their gate or for connecting flight information, so paying for this add-on UM service is oftentimes not necessary. We have sent hundreds of semester abroad students internationally, for whom we book their flights, and we never use unaccompanied minor services. If you would like the peace of mind a UM service provides, Greenheart Travel offers more self-empowering alternatives (such as reviewing airport maps, mapping connections, etc) that we believe teach teenagers relevant life skills about traveling independently.
Yes! Either someone from our in-country partner staff or your host family will be waiting for you when you land.
There are no required vaccinations to travel to Costa Rica. We follow the CDC’s guidelines for travelers.
Greenheart Travel cannot award high school credit. Please talk to your school about earning credit for your child’s time abroad. Refer to this blog post for tips on transferring credit.
Most of our students are Americans between 14-17 years old. However, there are students participating from around the world, so your child will have a cross-cultural setting both in the classroom and out. While the number of students does vary by start date, we like to keep this experience more intimate with no more than 15-17 students.
Language practice and immersion are one of the main priorities of this program. While we do not require the students to sign a contract stating they will only speak in the local language, it is highly encouraged that they use their language skills when talking to friends, partaking in the daily excursions and at night in the host family home. Program staff and chaperones primarily communicate and answer questions in the local language to encourage immersion.
In a traditional classroom, students may learn language skills; however, they are not forced to practice these skills in real world situations. Through language immersion, you will both learn the practical language skills in a classroom while also being forced to use them with local, native speakers during the excursions and/or host family experience. Studies show that 4 weeks of a full language immersion experience can be equivalent to a yearlong college language course because of the intensity of use.
Greenheart Travel provides 24-hour support to you and your child throughout the application, program and alumni processes. We are a small staffed non-profit that is accredited with CSIET, so you know you’ll always be talking to a real person on the other line. We are proud to always be available for your questions and concerns and we always answer our emails and phone calls quickly. We pride ourselves on developing a personal relationship with our participants, and love staying connected with them throughout the experience on social media & email. We offer the personal connection and support that many of our competitors do not.
Costa Rica is usually warm, although climates vary depending on altitude and location within the country. There are basically two seasons, the rainy season and the dry season. The dry season generally runs from January to May and the rainy season goes from May/April to November/December. Even during the dry season there is a chance of rain every day, so be prepared for humidity!
Get ready for lots of rice and beans! Fresh fruit is everywhere and really delicious, and meats consist of chicken, fish, pork, or beef. Your host family will provide you with 3 meals per day. Meal times and portions could be different than what you’re used to, as many ticos eat a larger breakfast/lunch and then have a small dinner. You’ll receive lots more cultural information in your program handbook once you’re accepted.
We can cater to vegetarian needs quite easily. Any other specific diets should be discussed with us to see if we can arrange to have your needs met. In some cases, you may need to provide your own food.
You will be covered by mandatory health insurance. You will receive a policy brochure and insurance card via email 1-2 weeks prior to your departure, as well as supplementary materials in your comprehensive program handbook.
Absolutely! We are happy to accept friends and groups. However, keep in mind your primary purpose of attending this program is to immerse themselves in the language and culture – so make sure your child and their friend commit to speaking Spanish!
Absolutely! If you are an educator who would like to organize a group trip, please inquire here to speak about dates, pricing, and special requests.
Greenheart Travel has been sending teens to Costa Rica for many years, and there are advantages of applying for this program through us:
We also have some unique offerings to our Greenheart Travel students and alumni!
Greenheart Global Impact Grants (GIGs)
Greenheart GIG Grants are funds awarded to Greenheart Travel participants to use for community development projects in their host or home country after they return home. A GIG is the opportunity to create, improve, or maintain an impactful, community-focused project abroad or at home. Grant funds could be applied to supporting women’s cooperatives, schools, community centers, or health clinics, for example. Grant winners will be featured on our website, social media, and blog. You can see our past winners on our blog here.
Greenheart Alumni Program
We created the Greenheart Travel Alumni Program to provide resources and a community to support alumni in their advancement as global leaders, and a way to celebrate and reward our participants for being ambitious, inspiring catalysts of cultural exchange!
Junior Greenheart Global Leaders Conference
Each May Greenheart offers full-ride scholarships to around 10 teen alumni to attend our annual conference in Chicago. You can see more about what Jr. GGLC is and what you could do at the conference here.
Committing to a language camp program can feel a bit daunting, but we are here every step of the way to make the application process as simple as possible. Below are the steps you’ll need to take to be accepted on a Greenheart Travel program.
Once you start your application, you have two weeks to finish.
1. Ensure Your Eligibility: The eligibility requirements, such as age or language proficiency, may be required for certain destinations.
2. Start Your Application Here. You will be sent more information as well as the link to our application portal to begin your formal application. You’ll be able to save your progress along the way.
3. Sign the Terms & Conditions: After you complete the first part of your application, you (and your parent(s) if you’re under 18) will be asked to read through and sign our Terms and Conditions which outline the requirements and policies of the program.
4. Submit your application fee: You will need to submit your $300 application fee at this point in the process. This is required in order to reserve your spot on the program and is subtracted from your total program fee.
5. Secondary Application Form: This is the most in-depth part of the application process as it helps us get to know you better. You will need to provide detailed information about yourself, why you want to go abroad, and what you hope to gain from your experience. You will also need to upload your passport.
6. Acceptance: Greenheart Travel will thoroughly review your application and will contact you within 1-2 weeks to confirm your acceptance. If we find something in your application that we have concerns about, we will let you know immediately. 95% of applicants are accepted on the program they apply for.
You’re Accepted – now what?
Your program manager will be in touch with you directly about your acceptance. At this point you will be required to submit a second $300 commitment payment that also goes towards the total amount (it’s not extra). This is your commitment to your start date and once we receive it is when details will start to be booked on your behalf.
You should then expect to receive your Greenheart Travel program handbook via email, which talks more about your program, as well as supplemental information about dealing with culture shock and our insurance program. We will also schedule an online pre-departure orientation to answer any lingering questions you may have. You can expect to receive your host family placement 1-2 weeks prior to your start date.
Have questions and want to chat with a program advisor? Set up a time here: