Do I need a visa to participate in ICDS’ programs?
It is necessary to have a valid passport to travel to Costa Rica. To enter Costa Rica, American and Canadian students –as well as those of a few other nationalities– only need a valid passport. Upon arrival, Immigration will grant a three-month tourist permit, which later will be changed for a student visa through the Office of International Cooperation at ULatina. Students who are citizens of and have passports issued by other countries may need to obtain a tourist visa at the closest Costa Rican consulate before entering Costa Rica. If your nationality is other than American, please contact ICDS as soon as possible so that we may consult with the Costa Rican Immigration Office about any special requirements.
What kind of immunizations are required for students going to Costa Rica?
No immunizations are required to enter Costa Rica. However, we recommend that you get the seasonal flu shot before leaving the US, as both spring and fall semesters run completely or partially during the country’s rainy season (May through November), which is when more people are prone to catch bad colds or the flu. Costa Rica has suffered from sporadic outbreaks of dengue fever in recent years, especially in coastal areas. Dengue is transmitted by mosquitos, and there is no vaccine, therefore taking precautions (i.e. wearing appropriate clothing to cover one’s body, using mosquito repellant containing “deet”, etc.) is advisable when travelling to coastal regions, and will help diminish the risk of contracting the disease.
Who will pick me up at the airport?
When ICDS receives a student´s arrival information confirmation, arrangements will be made for an ICDS (or ULatina) staff member to meet the student at the airport and transport them to the ULatina campus in San Pedro, where a member of their host family will be waiting for you to take them home.
What is the city of San José like?
San José, the capital city of Costa Rica, is a city of 1,300,000 inhabitants (about one third of the country’s population), with an area of 4,959 km2 and an altitude of 1.125 meters (3,691 feet). It is a cosmopolitan city with many cultural and recreational activities, cinemas, shopping malls, and museums. The city is small enough to traverse on foot, and walking is a convenient option to avoid the traffic jams downtown. San José is located in Costa Rica’s Central Plateau (Meseta Central)—a high altitude plain right in the middle of the national territory—and it is surrounded by the neighboring cities of Heredia, Alajuela, and Cartago. Beautiful mountains and volcanoes (Irazú, Poás and Barva) encompass San José, and the city is only an hour and a half away from the Pacific coast, and about three hours from the Atlantic coast by car. Public transportation is efficient and affordable, and one can take a bus to just about anywhere in the country!
What will the weather be like during my stay in Costa Rica?
The climate in Costa Rica is tropical, with two seasons per year –the dry season (verano, or summer), running from December through April, and the rainy season
(invierno, or winter), running from May through November. Temperatures vary across the country according to altitude, ranging from 30°C (90° F) on the coasts to near freezing at the highest elevations, like Mount Chirripó, where it is not unusual to have morning frost and sheets of ice on the lakes. However, the average temperature in San José is approximately 75° F (24°C) all year round. The dry season is characterized by clear skies, sunny days, and breezy weather; however the Central Valley and surrounding mountains can get fairly chilly in the evenings in December and January due to the northern winds. In general, there will be sunny, warm mornings and sometimes rather chilly evenings. The rainy season is characterized by warm and humid mornings, and often stormy afternoons and evenings. The weather on both coasts and the lowland plains extending towards the Caribbean is rather hot and humid all year round. Students should bring light clothes for the day and a sweater or light jacket for the evenings, as well as a raincoat and umbrella. For more details about Costa Rica, you might wish to access the official page of the Costa Rican Tourist Bureau at visitcostarica.com
How will I obtain credit for the courses taken?
ICDS and its partner, Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, will issue an official grade certification one month after completion of the program, which will be sent to the student´s home university (or organization previously indicated by the student). Credit depends on each school’s requirements: Schools holding institutional agreements with ICDS grant credit directly when they receive the official transcript. Other schools require their students to submit the course syllabus of the program they intend to take at ICDS for approval for credit transfer purposes previous to the beginning of the program. Students need to consult with the Registrar’s Office at their home institution in order to find out what their policy is.
When will I get my family placement information?
Based on the information provided by the students on the housing form, ICDS will place participants at the homes of carefully chosen Costa Rican families and will e-mail each student his/her host family information two weeks before the beginning of the program.
Do I need to be fluent in Spanish?
Not necessarily. ICDS prefers for students to have had at least a year of Spanish at college level, as previous knowledge of the language will be helpful for the stay in Costa Rica, and will add to the overall experience. All students are required to take a Spanish class along with the topical courses offered. Six levels of Spanish are available and a placement test will be given at the beginning of the term in order to determine the student’s level of proficiency to place him/her in the right class.
Do I need a high grade point average to study abroad?
You need to have a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or the equivalent in your country’s grading system in order to apply to ICDS’s programs.
What is the weekly class schedule like?
Classes are scheduled Monday through Thursday in three-hour slots, beginning at 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. and ending at 6:00 p.m. Fridays are off to give students plenty of time for studying or travelling.