Why study Spanish in Costa Rica?
Why Costa Rica? Costa Rica, or “Rich Coast”, is located between Nicaragua and Panama in Central America. Bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, this unique location makes Costa Rica home to many alluring land formations and exotic animal species.
There are many places to study abroad. However, the combination of language immersion, outstanding nature, abundance of activities and friendly people ranks Costa Rica as one of the top places to go study abroad/is only found in the home of ‘Pura Vida’.
Find the ten most important reasons for coming to Costa Rica in the following slides and convince yourself!
Language Immersion Costa Rican Spanish, which is soft spoken, “grammatically correct” and easy to understand is considered among the best in Spanish speaking countries.
Costa Ricans or Ticos (as we call ourselves) speak a very clear and nearly accent free Spanish. Compared to other Latin American countries, our Spanish is easy to understand for non-native speakers. English is widely spoken in the more populated areas, but the typical Tico is usually very forgiving of a foreigner's attempted Spanish.
San Jose is the perfect base from where to start your learning experience. Read here why.
Learn more about the benefits of studying abroad in Costa Rica.
Geographic Diversity Located between de North and South American continents, Costa Rica has a Neotropical climate and a wide variety of habitats. The ecological regions consist of twelve climatic zones, contributing to a variety of ecosystems; tropical rainforests, cloud forests, deciduous forests, Mangrove forests and Atlantic and Pacific coastline are all represented throughout the country.
Within just 19,730 square miles you will find magnificent beaches, pristine forests, sky-high mountains, bountiful jungles, over a dozen volcanoes providing the fertile soil for the best coffee and chocolate, colorful wildlife and the best possible range of activities for every type of person.
You can imagine this nature needs to be preserved: over 25% of the country’s landmass is protected and this percentage is becoming higher because of Costa Rica’s initial attraction: ecotourism.
As a result of the geographic diversity, Costa Rica possesses the highest density of biodiversity of any country worldwide: five percent of species estimated to exist on earth are to be found in Costa Rica! Hundreds of these species exist nowhere else on earth.
When visiting one of the many national parks, prepare to encounter butterflies with intensely hued wings, invertebrates like spiders and crabs and amphibians like the famous Red-Eyed Tree Frog. Have your camera ready for reptiles like iguanas, turtles and snakes, mammals like monkeys, sloths and coati’s and wild cats like pumas, margays and little spotted cats. And finally, be impressed by birds like the quetzal, hummingbird and parrots showing off their colorful plumage.
Costa Rica knows how to please its visitors. The variety of ecosystems and rich biodiversity provides plenty of opportunities to spend your time. Numerous national parks include long and scenic walks, challenging hikes up steep volcanoes and rewarding views. Furthermore, eco-tourism companies offer tours to watch turtles (and turtle nesting), birds, dolphins and whales. Are you an adrenaline seeker? Costa Rica provides countless opportunities to go surfing, rafting, canopying, canyoning (or rappelling), diving, mountain biking, bungee jumping, paragliding and off road adventures.
Even less adventurous folks will not get bored when relaxing at the natural hotsprings, swimming the deep-blue ocean, go horse riding along pristine beaches, go snorkeling in the middle of precious marine life, enjoy sport fishing or sea kayaking. The ultimate activity to prove you are in the middle of places you normally only find in the National Geographic wildlife photography.
Costa Rica has two seasons: the dry and the rainy season, also called the dry and the green season. Lasting from November/December to the end of April, the dry season brings blue and clear skies all day. There is always a light breeze to keep the temperatures mild. The rainy season, continuing from May until November, brings afternoon and evening showers.
Nevertheless, depending on the geography of each particular region and the elevation, many microclimates can be distinguished throughout Costa Rica, and you will always find a region where your favorite climate reigns. Because of these microclimates, it is difficult to generalize temperatures in Costa Rica. In the Highlands (the Central Valley, the Cordilleras Guanacaste Tilaran, Central and Talamanca) you will find daytime temperatures ranging between 0 ° (on the highest points) and 30 ° C. In the Lowlands (being the North, Guanacaste, the Pacific and Caribbean coasts and the Osa Peninsula) daytime temperatures range between 15 ° and 45 ° C, providing a pleasant temperature for the sea.
In the Central Valley, where our school is located, the average temperature is 78.8 Fahrenheit (26 Celsius). Very pleasant all year round.
- Friendly and happy people Did you know Ticos are the happiest people on earth? Besides being happy and sharing that mentality and attitude with everyone (“Pura Vida” really is the way of living here), Costa Ricans are also genuinely friendly. More than often you will hear people say Ticos are about the friendliest people they have ever met. Besides friendly, Costa Ricans are generally gentle, educated, polite and kind people who will do anything in their way to assist you. They appreciate every effort you put into speaking Spanish, but depending on where you are, most people will be able to speak (a little) English.
Costa Ricans like a good meal and fresh food is the most important basis for this. Their cuisine is known for being flavorful, yet not too spicy, and an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. Rice and beans are the main ingredients for the most traditional meals; gallo pinto is a breakfast dish of rice and beans mixed together with onions and sweet peppers. Rice and beans served with some kind of meat and salad and extras like fried plantain a slice of white cheese, and/or corn tortillas form the traditional lunch called casado. Are you into soup? Olla de Carne is a light meal with a little meat and a lot of vegetables that are cooked slowly in a special spices mix, accompanied by freshly-cooked rice.
In bars you can enjoy a variety of small dishes (bocas), like patacones with black bean dip, chimichurri (tomatoes and onions pickled in lime juice), ceviche (fish and/or shrimp with onions and pickled in lime juice), vigorón (cabbage, chimichurri and yucca, served with a slice of lime) and chifrijo (rice and beans with fried pork skins and chimichurri).
On the side of your dish you should drink one of the famous fresh frescos, a self-made mix of fresh fruits, a little syrup and water. Or taste the traditional breakfast drink called agua dulce (sweet water), which is made from tapa de dulce (some sort of brown sugar). Tapa de dulce is made with sugar cane juice boiled down in traditional mills and put to solidify in conical molds with the top cut off, which are called tapas (lids). Some of this tapa is scraped off and dissolved into boiling water or milk to make the agua dulce. Another option is the famous coffee!
Make sure to take advantage of the great supply of fresh fruit and enjoy vegetables you probably do not have in your home country!
Costa Rica is proud of having the longest standing democracy in Latin America. By abolishing the Costa Rican army in 1949, funds were released to finance an excellent public education and health system. In comparison to other Latin American countries Costa Rica has never suffered from any coups of civil wars.
The absence of an army results in a non-gun oriented society. Therefore criminal acts are normally non-violent and very few criminals have guns. As a result, big crimes like rapes and murders hardly occur. Petty theft is what you have to be careful with, especially in the downtown areas. Obviously, common sense can prevent pickpockets from taking your precious belongings. Find more information about taking precautions here and here.
Costa Ricans love a good party! Join the festivities on one of the many holidays to taste the food, listen to live music, learn how to dance salsa, meringue or the Costa Rican swing, get to know the national hero’s, get familiar with Ticos’ traditions and make new friends!
All these national holidays are accompanied by abundant action, which you will find spread out of over the country. Are you staying with a host family? Lucky you! They are likely to take you out and give you an inside look on why they call Costa Rica the country of Pura Vida.
- Money Costa Rica is relatively inexpensive for foreigners because of the strong U.S. dollars exchange for colones. Imported goods such as clothes, perfumes are expensive, but on the other hand, local products are cheap and worth buying, including the world's best coffee and fruits. San Jose offers a wide variety of markets when you will find everything you need for a bargain.
- Why study at Universal de Idiomas? Universal de Idiomas offers personalized language courses since 1981, having gained valuable experience in custom made instructions for students of various backgrounds. Our professors have a minimum of 10 years teaching experience, take part in ongoing training programs and have access to a resource-center. We possess a variety of facilities to enhance your learning experience! Find out more about our school here.