What’s it like to live in Costa Rica as a student?

How is it to be an exchange student in Costa Rica?

We know things are not easy during these times regarding COVID-19, but we try to see a positive light at the end of the tunnel. That’s why we are sharing the good news with you, that we are launching a brand new destination! It’s one of the happiest countries in the world with a welcoming culture. You will be studying in one of the leading private universities in Central America, where you will combine academic and Spanish lessons with exploring the beautiful natural sites. We are of course talking about Costa Rica!
Ida is doing her internship with Asia Exchange at the moment and has spent one year in Costa Rica. We spoke with her about her amazing experiences in Costa Rica to give you more of an inside view on life as a student there.

Poás Volcano in Costa Rica
Ida spent one year in Costa Rica

Why did you choose to go to Costa Rica?

I wanted to go to a country that I had no clue about and that was completely new to me. To experience something different. I realized this would be the best way to get the most out of my exchange year, go to a completely unknown country and learn more about it. I was interested in learning how to speak Spanish. So I started looking at Spanish speaking countries and Costa Rica popped out to me because, it’s a safe destination and one of the happiest countries of the world. Another reason that made the decision easier, is that my parents liked the fact that it was a politically and economically stable country to let me go abroad to at a young age. 

How was it to be a student in Costa Rica?

My experience was a bit different because I was a high school student at the time. I did experience the fact that the people were very kind and welcoming and I could always reach out for help. They are very interested in you, which gives you a nice feeling when you are alone in a new country.

What is your favorite memory of your time in Costa Rica?

It’s hard to pick one, there are many good memories. I’m grateful for all the traveling I did during my year there. It’s the perfect place to travel, there is much to see and nature is very diverse. You have cold mountains, but also a tropical rainforest and not to forget about the beautiful beaches. When I just arrived I didn’t know anyone, but it was easy to make new friends. Those people have become very close to me and we started going on lots of trips together. Besides that, I enjoyed watching all the different dancing from Bachata to Salsa, so I started to learn how to dance myself!

Toucan in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a country with great natural beauty

What makes Costa Rica a good spot to go to as a student?

Firstly because it’s a wonderful country and there is a lot to do and to see, even though it’s small. It’s very diverse, so you will never get bored during your semester. The second thing is that the education is well organized. They’ve put a lot of effort in the education system. It’s highly valued there, so there is a good quality of education. ‘Eight percent of our GDP is invested in education because we don’t have to spend it on the army. So our strength is human talent, human well-being.’ – Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of Costa Rica. Lastly, the people and atmosphere, everyone is very open and will talk to you. It is easy to make new friends. This ‘Pura Vida’ -lifestyle, no worries and no stress, everything will work out. It’s a nice thing to experience as an exchange student. Mostly because it’s so different compared to where I’m from. 

Would you advise other students to go there, if yes why?

Yes, I would definitely advise students to go to Costa Rica. It’s a great country and I’ve only heard positive experiences from other students. 

Surfing in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a good place to learn how to surf

Do you have any tips for students visiting Costa Rica for the first time?

I would advise them to learn some Spanish, maybe even already before going there. It will help you a lot, since a lot of people don’t know how to speak English. One of the most important things that I’ve experienced is that you should be brave enough to speak Spanish with them. This way you will practice your Spanish and people will highly appreciate it. They are incredibly welcoming and will respect the fact that you’re trying to speak their language. Besides that, I think it’s amazing to learn something new. Try out a new hobby, for example, I learned how to dance there. It was a great way to get to know new people and make friends. Another hobby you could try out in Costa Rica is surfing. World-class waves to beginner-friendly breaks and everything in between, Costa Rica offers a lot of waves for everyone, regarding which level you’re at. Discover the country and the culture and spend time with other exchange students, but also with locals. Be open minded and learn something new. Lastly, I think it’s common to try and be as prepared as possible before you leave to a new country. You can never be too prepared, but I do believe that it’s good to know that everything will work out in the end and that you shouldn’t stress about new experiences and impressions. Take them all in and enjoy every second of them.  

Are you interested in studying a semester abroad in Costa Rica? Find out more here 

Asia Exchange is a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities in Asia Pacific for students from all around the world. Want to get travel tips and new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter! If you have any questions about studying abroad, feel free to contact us! We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

This interview was conducted by our marketing intern Nadia!
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