January in San Jose, Costa Rica

With 4 weeks of intensive Spanish language on an urban campus, this program provides a great way to improve your language skills while exploring a fascinating country that also happens to be one of the most biodiverse nations on the planet. A Tropical Ecology program is also offered stand alone or alongside Spanish courses. Or, choose to take the Tropical Marine Biology Field Course!

Program Overview

Make the most of your summer break by studying Spanish language, Tropical Ecology or Tropical Marine Biology while immersing in a vibrant culture, all set in one of the most beautiful and biodiverse countries in the world! During your program you can take one Spanish language course and / or choose to take Tropical Ecology, or take the Tropical Marine Biology Field Course.

Regardless of your academic choice, you’ll enjoy cultural immersion by living with a local ‘Tico’ (Costa Rican) family, who will look after you and feed you. Enjoy the urban environment of vibrant San Jose, and be sure to make the most of your free time by travelling to any of the area’s nearby natural and cultural wonders.

World-class location – The urban capital of San Jose offers students the best of both worlds. From museums and pre-Columbian culture to live music, colonial architecture, colourful markets, live theatre, even a butterfly garden, you won’t be short of things to do!

Magnificent landscapes – To the north of San Jose, tranquil Heredia hosts Braulio Carillo National Park and Barva Volcano, two of the region’s greenest and most beautiful outdoor offerings.

International feel – Your professors will be Costa Rican locals and your classmates from across Australia, the US and the world!

Study Spanish – The best way to learn a language is to be immersed in it. You’ll have the opportunity to not only study Spanish abroad but also practice the language with the locals at cafes, markets or even while learning salsa dancing.

Hello Costa Rica – Exploring will be easy being situated only minutes from the heart of San Jose. Picturesque villages, beach towns and the nearby national parks are all calling your name.

Perfect for all levels – Don’t worry if you’ve never taken Spanish before. This course is perfect for beginners as well as those who are close to fluent.

Exciting excursions – One day trip and one weekend excursion with fellow students are offered on your January in San Jose, Costa Rica program. You’ll have the opportunity to wander the local markets on a city tour and explore the beautiful nearby rain forests.


Have you always wanted to visit Costa Rica? Then our January in San Jose, Costa Rica program is right for you! Here are a few of the key highlights that make our program unique:

  • An urban campus in one of the most environmentally diverse countries on Earth
  • Study Spanish in Costa Rica with classes for all levels – there is no language prerequisite
  • Study Tropical Ecology in one of the most ecologically diverse countries in the world
  • Study Tropical Marine Biology through field trips and fieldwork in various sites around Costa Rica
  • Day and weekend excursions offered
  • Study at a private, high-ranking university
  • Experience the real culture with a local host family
  • Live in one of Central America’s most lively cities – minutes from all the best entertainment and cultural amenities
  • Cooking classes, dance classes and sporting events are all at your fingertips – so you can bond with your new classmates in your new international location!

Choose Your Course

Our January in San Jose, Costa Rica program is hosted at Universidad Veritas. During your program you can take one Spanish language course over 4 weeks at any level (with 80 contact hours this is usually worth one or two full academic course credits) – giving you time every afternoon to practice your skills and get to know the region.

Students can also choose to take Tropical Ecology or Tropical Marine Biology – see course descriptions below. Students can choose to take both Spanish and Tropical Ecology; however, it should be noted that this option is very intensive and students will be studying 140 hours face to face over a 3 to 4 week period. For a more in-depth cultural experience over the same time frame, we recommend choosing only one course.

NOTE: Should a student wish to take a level of Spanish that is higher than Beginner, they will sit a Skype interview with a staff member at Veritas to assess their ability level.

Academic Requirement: To qualify students must be in good academic standing with a GPA of 4.0 (out of 7) or equivalent. If your current GPA falls below the requirement please contact us to discuss your situation. We will do what we can to find the right program for you.

Course load: One or two courses. Choose from Spanish Language courses of all levels or English-taught electives.

  • Depending on your Australian university, you may refer to “courses” as “subjects” or “units”.
  • Each course/subject/unit you undertake on a CISaustralia program overseas is designed to be a full-time, semester course that has been condensed to fit into an intensive, short-term program. As such, for any 1 course you study abroad, you should receive the credit points for 1 full-time course/subject/unit at your Australian university.
  • Many universities work off of a 1-for-1 equivalency (1 course abroad = 1 course in Australia), but ultimately credit approval is the decision of your faculty and Australian university.
  • CISaustralia strongly recommends that you have any overseas courses pre-approved for credit before you depart for your program. Some documentation that may be useful are the course outline/syllabus, program overview, and the contact hours.
  • Your CISaustralia Program Advisor can assist with any questions or details your university needs to make a decision.


Study Spanish intensively at any range of levels, from basic to advanced and conversational.

Note: 4-week Spanish language programs are offered throughout the year, month-to-month. If the offered dates below don’t suit your availability, please contact CISaustralia for additional dates.

How to choose your Spanish language course: Select the course description that best reflects your current Spanish language abilities. Upon acceptance into the program, we will send you instructions for taking a placement exam online so that Veritas can begin to assess your level of Spanish. Following the online (written) placement exam, you will be assessed orally by staff in Costa Rica via Skype, allowing you to be placed in the most appropriate level of Spanish language before you arrive in San Jose.

View Spanish language course descriptions

NOTE: While Spanish language levels from beginner to advanced are offered, it is assumed that students will have very basic knowledge of the language, even when attending beginner’s classes. As such, CISaustralia recommends that students take the time to learn basic Spanish in advance of the program. This will help greatly when attending first classes and communicating with host families. Past students recommend Spanish-English dictionaries or language apps like Duolingo.


Students will learn about the interactions between earth and land and how these interactions or processes affect our life and the stability of the planet. Emphasis will be given to the study of the most relevant tropical ecosystems such as: tropical rain forests, cloud forests, coral reefs and mangroves. Field trips to selected environments will provide on-site examples of some of the issues learned through classwork and readings. All field trips are mandatory. The program provides 60 contact hours – the equivalent of 15 credit points.

View course syllabus


Learn about marine ecosystems, biodiversity and environmental issues through field trips and fieldwork in various sites around Costa Rica related to coral reefs, sandy and muddy beaches, mangroves and estuaries. This course introduces the basic concepts of oceanography, marine geology, marine ecology and marine biology, with emphasis on the interaction between species, between species and their environment and between ecosystems. It also provides information on the natural and human environmental impact, and the utility, management and conservation of the ecosystems.

View course syllabus


Your January in San Jose, Costa Rica program offers one day trip and one weekend excursion. Here are a couple of the places you might be visiting:

  • Cataratas – A magnificent 92m (300ft) waterfall that pours into an extinct volcanic crater, creating a truly spectacular sight to be explored! This is one of Costa Rica’s best kept secrets. Cataratas del Toro is located in the Bajos del Toro Amarillo mountains.
  • Poas Volcano – Hike around this active volcano and its two lake-filled craters at the summit. This volcano offers the wonderful opportunity to watch the bubbling, steaming cauldron belch sulphurous mud and water hundreds of metres into the air.
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest – Explore the tropical treetops of Costa Rica on this canopy tour in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve! This is a high altitude rainforest with skywalks and 60m high suspended bridges in one of the most biodiverse areas in the world.
  • Tamarindo – Surf, swim, kayak, horseback ride and more in this relaxing beachside town, not to mention the opportunity to visit the local Leatherback Turtle reserves. Located on the northwest Pacific coast, Tamarindo bay is definitely the place if you are looking for an adrenaline rush, or simply some relaxing in the sun. Plus, when you get into town you’ll discover that Tamarindo is extremely multi-cultural and laid back.

NOTE: Students enrolled in the Tropical Ecology course will attend two mandatory field trips over their 3-week program – related specifically to Tropical Ecology – and incorporated within the course structure. Details provided on arrival. Students enrolled in Tropical Marine Biology will also undertake a lot of field work, so may not be able to attend the excursions listed. Those students enrolled in the Spanish intensive language program (only) will undertake the excursions indicated above.

Required field work and field trips within a course are mandatory and will take precedence if an academic field trip and a CISaustralia excursion are scheduled for the same day.


Costa Rica, meaning ‘rich coast’ in Spanish, is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east.

Costa Rica is home to a rich variety of plants and animals. The country contains 5% of the world’s biodiversity. Around 25% of the country’s land area is in protected national parks – the largest percentage of protected areas in the world!

With a population of 4.3 million, Costa Rican locals (also knowns as Ticos), are known for their friendly, laid-back demeanour. Costa Rica’s official language is Spanish, though a large number of its citizens are at least moderately bilingual.

Well known for its year-round warm weather, Costa Rica has something for everyone. Are you adventurous? Why not give white-water rafting, ziplining (flying fox) or hiking a go.

Don’t forget to check out the local theatres, markets, restaurants and clubs all easily accessible by public transport – making this a brilliant city to explore.

The University

Universidad Veritas is located in San Jose, the cultural hub of Costa Rica, famed for its National Theatre, busy market life and easy-to-use public transportation. There are plenty of international restaurants, ranging from Lebanese to Italian, in addition to local sodas, where you can eat large helpings of gallo pinto, the delicious national dish. After class, you can head to one of the many local theatres, concert venues, cinemas and salsa clubs.

Did you know?

  • Universidad Veritas is one of the best private universities in Central America and just minutes from the city centre of San Jose
  • The university has approximately 1,500 Costa Rican students and 300 international students from around the world – a truly global campus
  • Strong university reputation for architecture, marketing and design courses
  • Outstanding staff support with academic advising and cultural and personal counselling
  • Small classrooms oriented to advance your Spanish language skills
  • Salsa dancing lessons, cooking classes, free self-defence class and the opportunity to join sports teams
  • The university provides weekly dance classes, intramural sports, martial arts classes, Costa Rican cooking classes, religious organizations, volunteer opportunities and more



Accommodation for the duration of this program is a homestay. This gives you the perfect opportunity to truly immerse yourself in the local culture and lifestyle. During your stay, you are provided with bed linen, blankets and pillows. Other homestay inclusions include:

  • Private bedroom
  • Daily breakfast and dinner – what better way to experience true Tico cooking! (Families are accommodating about providing vegetarian meals when asked)
  • Weekly laundry service, including ironing
  • Hot water*
  • Internet connection
  • Towel for the house (please bring your own beach towel)
  • Toiletries: shampoo, soap, toothpaste (if you require a particular brand, please bring your own)
  • Security box/safe in bedroom

*Please be aware that having no hot water is not uncommon in Costa Rica. Most host families should have hot water facilities for their house, but sometimes they may not be the most reliable.

Lunch is on your own. There are many restaurants and cafes in the area where students usually eat lunch. There are also a few restaurant options close to campus. The homestays are located in a residential urban area that is fairly close to downtown (approximately a 30-minute walk) and are within close access to public transportation. There are grocery stores, a mall and other places of interest in the area.

Homestays are allocated with reference to information provided by the student about their level of Spanish and living preferences. The same families have been participating in the homestay program for years and all are vetted and regularly checked. Most families will have two or even three international students staying in the house.

Students will be treated as an adult during their time with the host family. Please be aware there are no curfews in place for students, but it very important to always remain respectful of your family. Always let your host family know if you will not be attending a meal for any reason, and clean up after yourself when appropriate. Always communicate with them, or your Site Director, if an issue arises. Most host families have hosted international students before and are sensitive to cultural differences, and will expect the same in return.

Try to do your best to spend time with your host family and get to know about them and the Costa Rican culture. The idea is not to act as if you are staying at a hotel, rather that you can share with them and spend time with them as part of the family.

Program Fee & Dates

January 2020: Spanish Language (Only)
Note: 4-week Spanish language programs are offered throughout the year, month-to-month. If the offered dates don’t suit your availability, please contact CISaustralia for additional dates.
Application Deadline04 November 2019
Arrival Date04 January 2020
Departure Date01 February 2020
Program Fee A$ 4,999
OS-HELP A$ 6,791
January 2020: Tropical Ecology (Only)
Application Deadline04 November 2019
Arrival Date04 January 2020
Departure Date25 January 2020
Program Fee A$ 4,999
OS-HELP A$ 6,791
January 2020: Spanish and Tropical Ecology
Application Deadline04 November 2019
Arrival Date04 January 2020
Departure Date01 February 2020
Program Fee A$ 6,199
OS-HELP A$ 6,791
January 2020: Tropical Marine Biology
Application Deadline04 November 2019
Arrival Date04 January 2020
Departure Date23 January 2020
Program Fee A$ 6,999
OS-HELP A$ 6,791


Program fees include the following:
  • Tuition fees
  • Homestay accommodation with a local family
  • Breakfast and dinner with your host family
  • Health and medical insurance (if requested)
  • CISaustralia support services before, during and after the program
  • Academic advising
  • Financial advice
  • Assistance with travel arrangements
  • Pre-departure guide and session
  • Airport pick up
  • CISaustralia Site Director Orientation (first Sunday) and welcome pack
  • Universidad Veritas orientation (first Monday)
  • On-site support
  • On-campus internet access
  • Weekly laundry
  • Cultural / social activity + farewell dinner
  • *For Spanish intensive students – 1 x one-day excursion and 1 x weekend excursion (some costs may apply). Excludes Tropical Ecology and Marine Biology students who attend separate / mandatory field trips as part of their course.
  • *For Tropical Ecology and Marine Biology students – 1 x half-day excursion (some costs may apply). Excludes Spanish intensive students.
  • Universidad Veritas official transcript
  • CISaustralia Certificate of Completion

What is not included:

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees
  • Vaccinations (if required)
  • Meals (unless mentioned above)
  • Extra travel/excursions (other than those mentioned above)

CISaustralia reserves the right to alter fees and inclusions at any time due to currency fluctuations and / or changes made by our affiliates and partner universities.

Dates are for reference only and are subject to change. Please do not book flights until you have received the confirmed dates in your acceptance paperwork.

Adventure Awaits

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