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High School Summer Abroad in Costa Rica

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  • Overview

    Can’t miss part of your semester or a full academic year? No te preocupes! (Psst – that means “don’t worry”) 

    During North American summers, Costa Rican schools are still in session! You can still attend a local high school and live with a local host family and get the full exchange experience without missing your school year. 

    This program is perfect for you if:  

    • You want to have a host sibling your age – we guarantee you will!  
    • You love sustainability and green tourism and want to experience it firsthand from the experts  
    • You’re looking to learn Spanish in a non-intimidating environment  
    • You want to spend your weekends embracing the tico lifestyle – bring on the family dinners! 
  • Costs & Inclusions

    ** Due to the unique pandemic entry requirements imposed by the Costa Rican government, all students will be responsible for an additional $350/month for the cost of insurance. **

    2021 Prices:

    • 1-month program: $6,590
    • 2-month program: $8,310

    Packaged into the Price:

    • On-site orientation upon arrival
    • Airport pickup upon arrival
    • Host family accommodation and 3 meals per day
    • Comprehensive medical/accident insurance
    • Certificate of Completion upon successful completion of the program for use on college applications.
    • Access to Greenheart Travel Facebook groups to connect with alumni and others on your start date ahead of your program.
    • Greenheart Atlas Program 
    • Greenheart Travel T-shirt & Reusable “No Plastic Please” Canvas Tote Bag

    Our Support and Services: 

    • Extensive pre-departure advice and support from Allison and Jess, your US-based program coordinators! They will be with you from your first inquiry, all the way through preparing to leave and your arrival in Costa Rica.
    • Support and counseling services from in-country staff upon arrival to Costa Rica.
    • Online pre-departure cultural and logistical orientation before you leave
    • 24-hour in-country and emergency support for the duration of the program, including 24-hour emergency phone numbers to reach a program manager at any time.
    • Opportunity to apply for a Greenheart Grant to give back to your community at home or abroad

    Additional Expenses to Budget For:

    • Flights to/from Costa Rica
    • Any school supplies, notebooks, pens, calculator etc.
    • Local transportation
    • Pocket money
    • Personal hygiene articles (deodorant, tampons, perfume, shampoo)
    • Specialty food items
      • If there is something you want or enjoy that your host family does not typically buy. Students with intolerances have to buy (for example): gluten-free items, lactose intolerance milk, vegan options etc. if this is not part of their host family’s diet.

    Payment Details

    • $1,500 Application Deposit due by the program deadline to formally apply 
    • $5,000 Commitment Deposit due after acceptance 
    • Remaining Balance due within 2 weeks of acceptance 

    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.

  • Program Dates

    2022 Program Dates

    1-month and 2-month program dates for Summer 2022 will be announced shortly.

    Arrival and Departure 

    All students are required to book flights on their own. An airport transfer upon arrival is included in the cost of the program. We will provide your exact arrival and departure dates after acceptance, as well as the exact timeframes you should arrive/depart, so that you can start to search for possible flights. We require prior approval of a proposed itinerary before you purchase any flights.

    Nervous about flying on your own? We recommend students and parents sitting down together to review the following resources:

    For many Greenheart Travel students their first time flying is across the world to start their exchange program! You can read our alumni experiences on our blog, such as Emily’s or Madison’s blogs on their experiences flying to Japan or Rachel’s tips on what you actually need to know about flying.

  • Academic Info

    You will be placed in a public high school in Costa Rica. Classes typically run 7:00am-4:00pm, and the main subjects are Math, Science, Geography and Spanish, but your schedule will depend on the school you’re placed in.  

    Interested in learning more? Access your High School Curriculum Guidelines for Costa Rica here! 

  • Eligibility

    • Be between 15 and 18 at the time of travel (recent graduates welcome!) 
    • U.S. or Canadian citizen  
    • High school cumulative GPA of at least 2.75/4.0  
    • Great mental and physical health* 
    • Have a genuine interest in becoming part of your host family and community  
    • Previous Spanish a plus, not required  

    *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 may not be able to 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. Each student will be addressed on a case by case basis. 

    These include, but are not limited to: 

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

    If the student’s mental health issue has been managed (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. 

  • Placements

    Students are placed 1-2 hours outside of San Jose in small to medium-sized towns in the following areas: San Ramon, Palmares, or Zarcero 

  • Why Greenheart Travel?

    Greenheart Travel has been working with high schoolers for many years, and there are advantages of applying for this program through us:

    • 33 years of experience with cultural exchange programs
    • Friendly, responsive, and professional support from your program manager, Allison.
    • Connect with alumni and others on the program via our Greenheart Travel only Facebook forums, before you even leave!
    • We try and make our program fees as inclusive as we can. We include things like medical insurance and flights so you don’t run into any hidden fees down the line.
    • Greenheart Atlas Program. The Greenheart Travel Atlas is a cultural training interactive guidebook alongside five videos where you will find three main topics covered: Personal/Professional Development, Cultural Understanding, & Environmental Awareness.
    • Our alumni recommend us! GoOverseas.com Reviews // GoAbroad.com Reviews
    • Hands-on support and personal attention every step of the way
    • 24/7 emergency phone number to reach a staff member at any time
    • Pre-departure “Culture Shock and Adjustment” Webinar before you leave
    • Discounts for future Greenheart Travel programs
    • We are a non-profit, mission-based organization
    • Continued support throughout your time abroad

    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. 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.

  • Application Process

    Committing to studying abroad can feel daunting, but we are here every step of the way to make the application process as simple as possible! Below are the various steps you’ll need to take to be accepted on a high school abroad program.

    1. Start Your Application HereYou will be sent more information as well as the link to our application portal to begin your formal application. Once the initial form is complete, you will be connected to a High School Abroad program manager who will speak with you and a parent to go over the details of the program.

    2. Submit Basic Program Information: The first step in our application portal will be basic things like your chosen start date, etc.

    3. Submit your application fee: A $1,500 application fee is required in order to apply for the program. This is subtracted from your total program fee, it’s not additional. 

    4. Complete Application & Documents: Provide more detailed information about yourself in Part 2 of the application. In this section, you’ll tell us more information like your work history, motivations for joining the program, travel history, and emergency contacts. You will also submit your documents (below) within your portal account.

    5. Interview: After submitting your application fee, you will schedule an interview with Allison.  During this interview, Allison will ask you questions about living with a host family, adjusting to new situations and homesickness, among other things. She will also explain the overview of the next few months and what you can expect. This is done via Zoom, and at least one parent should also be in attendance.

    6. You’re Accepted! Once you’ve completed all the steps, Greenheart Travel will thoroughly review your application and will contact you within 2-3 weeks about your acceptance. Then, you’ll get more information about preparation, and placement.

    7. Commitment Payment: Once you are accepted to the program, you will need to submit a $5,000 commitment payment within 14 days to confirm your spot on the program. We cannot start the host family matching process until we have this payment. Once you submit your commitment payment you will unlock the acceptance portion of your portal, which includes things like pre-departure videos, travel and arrival information, the Greenheart Travel Atlas, and more.

    7. Book your flights, and get ready for your adventure! 

    Required Documents

    In addition to completing an application, you will also be required to submit documents. You can be collecting the documents during the application process, but all documents will be due 14 days after you submit your application fee.

    The following documents will be required for all destinations:

    • Letter of Recommendation (from a teacher, coach or guidance counselor) – does not need to be sealed, should be scanned and uploaded to the document portal
    • Transcripts from the last 3 years (unofficial transcripts accepted)
    • Student Dear Family Letter
    • Parent Questionnaire & Letter
    • Photo Album (5-7 photos of you on a Word document with captions in English and Spanish)
    • Medical Form (including immunizations)
    • Copy of your passport
    • 60-90 second self-introduction video sent via YouTube link
    • Secondary rules & expectations document signed by both parents and students

    You’ve Been Accepted, Now What?

    Start getting ready for your adventure! Your program manager will be in regular communication with you to make sure that you are on track in your preparations to go abroad.

    • Upon acceptance, you will receive a student handbook (parents – you get one, too!) and access to the Greenheart Travel Atlas, as well as the Greenheart Club.
    • You will receive your host family and school placement roughly 2-3 month after acceptance.
    • After receiving your host family and school placement, you will receive further instructions on applying for you student visa (if applicable for your program length)
    • We will also schedule an online pre-orientation with other Greenheart students a few weeks before your departure!
  • Schedule a Call

    Have questions or want to talk to one of the program coordinators? Set up a time to have a phone call below.

  • COVID-19 Guidelines

    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 February 2021 this program is scheduled to run as planned for Summer 2021.

    Adhering to COVID-19 Guidelines

    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. 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.

    Cancellation in Case of COVID-19

    Again, while we plan to run this program without issues in Summer 2021, our policy is to still evaluate programs 6 weeks prior to your intended start date. If we determine we are unable to run your original start date due to factors like health & safety of students or entry restrictions, you will have options to defer to another start date/year, switch to a new program or request a partial refund. Please refer to our COVID-19 Cancellation and Refund Policy for more details.

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