Study Abroad in Guanacaste

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A Guide to Studying Abroad in Guanacaste

Guanacaste is an ecological paradise with a pristine shoreline on Costa Rica’s northwestern “Gold Coast.” When you choose to study abroad in Guanacaste, the outdoors will be your classroom! This diverse region gives you access to endless activities, like sun kissed beaches, lush green forests, arid desert landscapes, and even the chance to see an active volcano! You’ll complete your academic courses in the morning and then immerse yourself in the local Pura Vida culture. Study abroad in Guanacaste to experience a rich cultural and educational adventure!

What you need to know to study in Guanacaste

Although the education system in Costa Rica tends to be pretty low-key compared to more academically rigorous destinations, a majority of the classroom work you’ll do while studying abroad in Guanacaste involves hands-on learning techniques, which are incredibly valuable—not to mention way more fun than reading textbooks or listening to boring lectures.

Popular subjects to study. Thanks to its incredible biodiversity, it’s no surprise that most of the study abroad programs in Guanacaste, Costa Rica have to do with environmental subjects. Conservation, forestry, marine biology, and ecology are all great choices for subjects to study. Guanacaste is also a popular location to practice su español! Spanish courses are widely available for study abroad students. 

Short term programs vs. long term programs. With options to study abroad in Guanacaste throughout the year, there isn’t a bad time to experience life in one of Costa Rica’s most popular provinces! You can choose short-term programs during spring break, May term, or summer which are great options for students who can’t miss a traditional semester or want to earn extra credits. If you prefer something more long-term, there are programs during the fall, spring, or for a full academic year. Longer programs help you get the most colones for your buck and you will certainly see much better results on your Spanish language skills thanks to the full immersion experience.

Attending universities vs. other program types. As the second largest city in Costa Rica, Guanacaste offers a diverse assortment of programs for international exchange students. When looking into the options, you’ll notice that you can take classes at universities in Guanacaste or courses through third-party program providers. Your home institution might even have courses to study in Guanacaste. Before choosing a program, it is wise to talk to your academic advisor to help you decide which program will fulfill your credit requirements.

Life in Guanacaste for International Students

There are lots of things to do in Guanacaste! Living in Guanacaste is all about spending time outside enjoying the natural surroundings. Unlike other parts of Costa Rica, this province has small pockets of several different ecosystems. Much of your free time will be spent living an active lifestyle as you explore these varied environments. 

Guanacaste study abroad has everything an adventurous traveler—like you!—would want to do while on your semester or summer abroad program. In the center of the region, there are wide expanses of grasslands and dry tropical forests where you can ride ATVs or go mountain-biking. In the south, there are cloud forests where you can go bird-watching or hike to find diverse wildlife. To the west, there are pristine beaches and small fishing villages for relaxing tico weekends in the sand. 

Most prominently, Guanacaste is home to some of Costa Rica’s most active volcanoes! You can see stunning views of the Cordillera de Guanacaste mountains in the eastern part of the region. Don’t miss a visit to Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park, one of the most popular attractions in Guanacaste. It is famous for its abundant volcanic activity and you can even go volcano surfing!

GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop for study abroad students in Guanacaste

Wondering where the name Guanacaste comes from? Costa Rica’s national tree, the Guanacaste, is indigenous to the region’s arid climate and now serves as the namesake. Also known as the ear pod tree because of its curiously shaped seedpods, Guanacaste trees are massive! You will see them providing shade to the people and animals in national parks throughout the area.

Guanacaste is home to a majority of Costa Rica’s cattle ranching. As such, there is a vibrant vaquero, or cowboy, culture distinct from anywhere else in the country! You can find topes, or rodeos, nearly every weekend night during the summer. It’s a great way to experience the unique cultural heritage of this region! You will also hear the distinct folkloric music of Guanacaste, which uses more marimba than other Costa Rican music. 

When you study abroad in Guanacaste, you will have adventures both in the classroom and out! Guanacaste offers international students some of the best biodiversity in all of Costa Rica, while also immersing you in a traditional lifestyle that is distinct from other parts of the country. With academic courses abound, you can study in Guanacaste any time during the year. Get your cowboy boots ready because as a foreign exchange student, you’ll discover new and exciting things every day when you study abroad in Guanacaste! 

Are you already listening the vaquero music of Guanacaste dreaming about stunning volcanoes? Get more inspiration in our comprehensive guide on studying in Costa Rica!

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A Guide To
Studying Abroad in Guanacaste


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