Meaning “rich coast” in Spanish, Costa Rica certainly lives up to its name. Located in Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua and Panama, Costa Rica is a tropical paradise where the coast is never far. Costa Rica also contains volcanoes, jungles, and beaches on both oceans. After being a Spanish colony for over 200 years, In 1821, Costa Rica became one of several Central American provinces that jointly declared their independence. Known as a peaceful nation, Costa Rica has had no army since 1950.
Until 2010, Arenal was an active volcano. Even now, the views and surrounding rain forest in the Arenal National park are breathtaking and a must-see. The cloud forests around Monteverde and Santa Elena are among Costa Rica’s premier destinations for backpackers and nature enthusiasts.
Costa Rica has a booming ecotourism industry thanks to its biodiversity and the importance of national parks, which cover nearly a quarter of its territory. It makes a great destination for any student, but especially those interested in the natural sciences.
If you love sloths, consider visiting the Sloth Sanctuary, which is open to volunteers and visitors. If you can’t make it -- try your luck and catch a sloth on the road! - Trixie, Student Outreach Coordinator
There are many scholarships to fund your study abroad experience. Here is a list of Diversity Abroad scholarships available for study in this country:
For more scholarships, visit http://www.diversityabroad.com/search/scholarships/costa-rica
If you have studied abroad in Costa Rica, consider creating a profile and sharing your experience. What you have to say could help inspire another student considering studying abroad. You can also submit an article to be considered for publication on our website. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
Also, here are some links to potential opportunities for students who have studied abroad and graduates interested in work opportunities in Costa Rica.
Note: These tips are intended to serve as an overview and are not exhaustive. Be sure to research your destination thoroughly as your identity can have a significant impact on your experience abroad
"Shadism" is still present in Costa Rica, as well as many other Central and Latin American countries. That is to say, African American students or students with darker skin tones may find they are treated differently. Black and Latino students will likely be readily identified as American tourists.
Hear from a Diversity Abroad Alumni who studied abroad in Costa Rica!
Asian students will likely not experience much in the way of racism. You will however, generally be assumed to be Chinese, regardless of your background, as Costa Ricans are used to significant tourism from China.
Costa Rica has a traditional Roman Catholic, conservative, society in which public displays of same-sex affection are rare. In the recent past, public figures, politicians, and religious leaders have denounced homosexuality. However, gay and lesbian travelers are generally treated with respect and you should not experience harassment. Many Costa Ricans, especially in more urban centers support legislation granting recognition and rights to same-sex couples.
There are international laws in place to promote the rights and address the needs of the disabled. But despite its beauty, Costa Rica is not a wealthy nation. Therefore, funding to implement accessibility standards is limited. You will need to conduct extensive research on tours that are accessible, especially if you’d like to explore the natural parks and wildlife in the country.
Although Roman Catholicism is the official religion in Costa Rica, the country is considered one of the most secular in Latin America. Many identify as Christian, but do not actually practice. There are very small numbers of Muslims and Buddhists, so do not expect to have a large community. You will however, be able to practice any major issues as Costa Ricans are generally accepting of all faiths.
Costa Rica still has a very macho and patriarchal culture. You may experience catcalling and aggressive and pushy men. Also, because of the accepted prostitution and significant trafficking, you may endure some unwelcomed solicitations. Generally, Costa Rica is safe. General precautions should be made however, in heavy tourist areas due to scams and petty thefts.
Hear from a Diversity Abroad Alumni who studied abroad in Costa RIca!
Are you ready for Costa Rica? Here are few essential resources to help make your trip a success:
Explore Costa Rica on a budget!
Get the best deals on flights with exclusive student discounts!