Viva la Pura Vida en Costa Rica, disfruta (live the pure life) in Costa Rica and enjoy! San Jose is a vibrant city with a mezcla of different cultures combined as one. As you learn a new language in San Jose, you can bask in the different hues of rustic brown that shimmer under the sun and the other vivacious colors, which truly represent the spirit of the city. San Jose is a city of richness, free spirits, and, interestingly enough, public displays of affection (meoW! wink!). If you’re an adventurer, a lover of life, or a fool for languages, you’ve come to the right corner of Central America. Read on for info on attending language schools in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Language Programs in San Jose
Choosing the right language program is a key part in having the best experience possible in San Jose. Your program choice makes all the difference between a life changing experience and a simple getaway (nobody has time for that, for real!).
When learning Spanish in San Jose, you can choose to attend a Spanish language school, a more established university program, or hire a private tutor. You should pick your “poison” based on your personal linguistic goals. If you don’t thrive in a large classroom, stick to small group classes, typically offered by language schools in San Jose. You can also consider doing Spanish-taught elective courses offered by academic institutions, which will help broaden your vocabulary and even learn slang terms native to Costa Rica.
English language learners can also attend classes or language schools in San Jose designed specifically for those who want to improve their English language fluency. If you are studying English as a second language, but want to trade in cloudy, grey Scotland for something more lively (and don’t mind that the surrounding native language is not English), San Jose can be an adventurous option.
Depending on which language program in San Jose you choose, classes can be quite different, whether in terms of scheduling, structure, or course content. Some Spanish language schools in San Jose offer extracurricular activities to supplement courses, such as dance, cooking, and cultural classes. While studying in San Jose, you will notice that everything and everyone is more tranquilo (relaxed), so even if you arrive to class late, you might end up walking into a classroom with only your Spanish professor present.
Life in San Jose
City life in Costa Rica is filled with many adventures, especially in San Jose. San Jose has a unique sense of diversity when it comes to its history, race, and activities. For language students, taking classes can be like taking an extended vacation. There are many cafes, restaurants, and bars (18 and up, no babies!) throughout the city that students can go to chill, eat, and hangout with their peers. Additionally, San Jose is filled with historical sites, such as El Parque Nacional (national park), Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica (theater), and El Museo Nacional de Costa Rica (national museum). San Jose likewise offers common recreational activities, like cinemas, a skating rink, and bowling alleys.
Getting around San Jose is easy, but can be dangerous if you are not aware of your surroundings. Safety is number one for all study abroad students; being a foreigner can at times make you an easy target. When walking to different locations, use the buddy system (and try to walk with utmost confidence). Taking a taxi is the most popular way of getting around the city, so keep in mind that legitimate taxis are bright red with a yellow triangle on the side of the car. Buses are also a very affordable option, but keep in mind it is safer to always travel with a buddy. Once you have the buddy system down, you can go to wherever your heart desires, which hopefully is on to new adventures.
Unlike a handful of countries, Costa Rica has two seasons: dry and wet. Dry season (mid-November to April) is the summer for San Jose; this time of year is filled with sunshine and positive vibes. May to Mid-November is wet season, when not a lot of outdoor activity can be accomplished.
Accommodation & Visas
Living arrangements all depend on the language program you choose. Most language programs in San Jose offer a homestay option, where students live in the homes of native Costa Ricans. Other programs give participants the chance to live with other students or in an apartment. However, for serious language learners, host families are ideal. Local host families can provide the comfort and patience needed to master the Spanish language, while simultaneously giving students the chance to experience local customs and social norms. If you’re attending language courses at a university, you will likely live in a suburban or urban neighborhood close by to the school. For example, students attending Universidad Veritas typically live in the neighborhoods of Zapote and Barrio Cordoba.
International students do not usually need a visa to attend language schools in San Jose, however they will, not surprisingly, need a passport. Those entering Costa Rica for the purpose of attending language courses will only be able to remain in the country for 90 days before having to leave or apply for a visa. Most students staying longer than the 90 days leave the country by traveling to Nicaragua or Panama for the weekend, and then come back for another 90 days visa-free. Receiving a visa can take approximately six to eight weeks, depending on the season and if your documents were submitted correctly. Be sure to apply for a passport six months in advance, to ensure it arrives on time (you can’t leave the country without it, ya know?). For up-to-date visa info, please refer to GoAbroad’s Costa Rican Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
There are numerous benefits that language programs in San Jose can provide, other than just a reason to perfect your present perfect subjunctives. Students will not only learn about the grammatical characteristics of the Spanish language, they will also learn how to speak in a culturally sensitive manner. Remember: it isn’t always what you say, but how you say it.
Language schools in San Jose will support students to help them become who they want to be. The city provides a sense of libertad (freedom) that you may not feel back home. It can be tempting to get swept away in the joys and frivolities of living abroad, to make friends with the most comfortable or convenient circles (cough* people from your home country cough*) and to waste the opportunity at hand. Make a conscious effort to do just the opposite!
A language program in San Jose will change everything. It’s an experience that many students bring back home and share with the people around them. Be an adventurer, follow your dreams, and most importantly, Pura Vida.