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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: San Pedro, Costa Rica
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Eligibility: Please see below for requirements.
  • Budget Sheets:: Summer
  • Courses Offered
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Open to: Non-Degree Seeking (No University or College), Non-USF Degree Seeking (Other Institution), USF Degree Seeking Language of Instruction: English, Spanish
Language Requirements: English Level of Study: Undergraduate
Credit Offered: USF Credit Minimum GPA: 2.0
Program Primary Subject: Global Health, Global Sustainability, Languages and Applied Linguistics, Natural and Physical Sciences, Public Health, World Languages Sponsoring College: College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering
Program Advisor: Nancy Di Bella
Program Description:

View of Puntarenas de San Jose

Folklore dancers

Program Overview


USF's Spanish language and culture, and Geology program in Costa Rica is conducted in collaboration with a well-established Spanish language institute, ILISA.  USF has partnered with ILISA to offer its summer language program in Costa Rica for well over a decade. 

Geologically speaking, Costa Rica is young and active. Its landscape is created by a tug-of-war between three forces: volcanism and tectonic compression, which builds it up, and stream erosion, which wears it down. In some places, such as on the active volcanoes of Arenal or Rincon de la Vieja, the constructive force of volcanism dominates; in others, such as the central Valley, erosion prevails and lush, fertile plains and rolling hills are found. The landscape affects the climate, which in turn controls the distribution of agriculture; it explains why Guanacaste is arid and the Atlantic coast is rainy, and why bananas are grown near Limón and coffee on the slopes of Turrialba. Since people settled where they could grow what they eat, the landscape and climate also controlled the distribution of population. In summary, then, the special topics classes will explain how the unique geology of Costa Rica has helped shape its environment, both physical and cultural.

The Spanish Language program is designed to accelerate and enhance students' knowledge of the Spanish language, while at the same time allowing them to become immersed in Costa Rican culture.  The program features Spanish language classes from beginning through intermediate levels, taught by host institution and USF instructors in pleasant facilities.  Class sizes are small by design to facilitate learning. By participating in this intensive language program, students earn USF course credit and make progress toward meeting foreign language and summer enrollment graduation requirements.

Pre-departure and on-site orientations will prepare students to gain the most from the experience.  Organized cultural excursions to locales outside of San Jose complement classes.

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Group picture at Poas



Costa Rica boasts a wealth of natural scenic beauty and a pleasant climate year-round.  San Pedro, the program site, is in the capital and geographical heart of Costa Rica. Students attend classes at the language institute. It is situated close to museums, parks, a wide variety of cafes and restaurants, and shopping centers.  A very economical and reliable city bus system allows participants to travel between the city and the suburbs. The program's homestay accommodations are located within walking distance of the institute. On day-out excursions from the city, participants will experience the contrasts and variety of scenery in the Central Valley. Weekend travel will allow time for travel to Costa Rica's famous volcanoes, its Caribbean and Pacific beaches, and immense tropical forest reserves.



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Group graduation picture

Host Institution

This program partners with ILISA, a language institute that not only has qualified Spanish teachers but also assists with coordinating the housing, transportation, and excursions.
ILISA is in a wonderful part of the capital city of San Jose called San Pedro. It is located in a quiet neighborhood, very close to the University of Costa Rica. There are many things to do and places to eat in the area. ILISA is a gorgeous and comfortable place to study. On a nice day, you can have your class in one of their outdoor classrooms, in their relaxing garden overlooking the mountains.
ILISA has an onsite open-air terrace cafeteria serving food and coffee all day – all freshly made, local, Costa Rican cuisine.

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Academic Program and Course Information


In this intensive program, students will be enrolled in language classes that meet Monday-Friday for anywhere from four hours to half of the day. Classes will be determined by the student's level of proficiency or based upon the last semester of Spanish language completed at USF or student's home institution.  Spanish classes are offered at all levels, though students who have completed at least one semester of Spanish or the equivalent will gain the most benefit.

Geology and Environmental Study courses taught in English:

GLY 4930: Special Topics in Geology
EVR 4930: Special Topics in Environmental Science & Policy

FKL taught in English:

LAS 4023 African Diaspora in the Caribbean

Available Spanish Courses:

SPN 1120 Spanish 1  - 4 credit hours
SPN 1121 Spanish 2  - 4 credit hours
SPN 2200 Spanish 3  - 3 credit hours
SPN 2201 Spanish 4  - 3 credit hours
SPN 2240 Conversation 1 - 3 credit hours
SPN 2241 Conversation 2 - 3 credit hours
SPN 4410 Advanced Conversation - 3 credit hours
SPN 2270 Journaling/Basic Conversation  - 2 credit hours
SPN 4470 Latin American Culture Thru Film - 3 credit hours (taught in Spanish. Assignments written in English for lower-level Spanish students.)

How to complete the REQUIRED Course Approval Form:

  1. Download the required Course Approval Form: CAF Costa Rica 201805
  2. Select your course(s) on the form,
  3. Get your academic advisor’s signature, and
  4. Upload your completed form to the Course Approval Form Questionnaire

Faculty and academic advisor, must approve appropriate course credit for each student, and sign a Course Approval Form (also a part of the Application Packet) confirming academic acceptance into the program.  To be registered for USF credit, students must return the signed form to the USF Education Abroad Office.

Credit Type

Students enrolled in this program will be enrolled in direct USF credit.

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Faculty from the World Languages Department:

Evguenia Davenport - has been the faculty leader for the USF in Costa Rica program since the summer of 2016 and has served as a faculty coordinator, program director and USF instructor. She earned a dual MA degree in Spanish and in Applied Linguistics from USF in 2013. She has been teaching Spanish at USF since 2009. Evguenia Davenport has led  Education Abroad programs since 2014, and she has been teaching Spanish in other higher education institutions at a basic level, Second Year Spanish, Spanish Composition and Conversation I courses.

Faculty from the School of Geosciences:

Tom Juster - has been an instructor at USF for 15 years, teaching a variety of undergraduate courses and leading field trips far and wide. He is the author of “Essentials of Geology”, the lab manual used in USF’s introductory geology lab. Having spent a year living and working in Costa Rica, he knows all the great places to go and is excited to share his knowledge and love of geology with students.

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Program Costs


Program Cost: $4,498


Accompaniment and on-site program direction by USF instructor
Homestay accommodations with breakfast and dinner daily
10 Lunches at the institute
All program related, in-country transportation
Museum entrance fees
Health Insurance
Group excursions to hot springs, beaches, waterfalls, and volcanos
Farewell Dinner

Not Included:

International Airfare (estimate $350-550)
Personal spending (lunches at $3-5; entertainment to vary by individual)

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Living Arrangements


The program uses homestay accommodations in which students live with local families carefully selected, trained and monitored by ILISA. This arrangement provides a more in-depth understanding of the daily life of Costa Ricans, who are noted for their friendliness. Cultural awareness is much enhanced by the daily interaction with the homestay families. Another advantage of homestay lodging is that it includes breakfast and dinner daily, thereby making the program more economical for the student. Internet access should not be expected at the homestay residences, but is available at the institute and at plentiful internet cafes.


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Who Can Participate?


Prior language experience is not required for participation in this program. Intermediate students of Spanish will particularly benefit from the USF Summer Spanish Language Program in Costa Rica.


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How and When to Pay

Please click here for further details regarding payment.


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Getting There


You will be responsible for reserving and purchasing your international transportation to and from San Jose, Costa Rica. Please do not purchase your ticket until the USF Education Abroad Office has released the Faculty's flight schedule, as their arrival will be the pick up time for the bus. It is highly advised that program participants travel on these flights, as this is the arriving and departing flight schedule that will provide group ground transportation to and from the language institute. Participants who must travel on other than the group-designated flights must arrange to arrive at the San Jose airport at approximately the same time or earlier than the group flight.


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Medical Insurance and Travel Documentation


USF provides program participants with sickness/accident and emergency medical evacuation insurance valid for the dates of the program.  Those who will travel independently, either in advance of the program or after the program ends, must ensure that they have insurance coverage valid outside the U.S.


Please click here for more detailed information.

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Financial Aid and Scholarship Funding


Many funding opportunities are available to USF students who are planning to study abroad.  Please see our funding page for further details.

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Safety & Health

Participant's safety and well-being are paramount to USF. Please click here for detailed country-specific safety and health information given in our Country Study Report. Make sure to read up on country-specific information on the U.S. Department of State and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites.

Scams Common in Costa Rica:

Thieves in Costa Rica often work in small groups. The most prevalent scam involves the surreptitious puncturing of tires of rental cars, often near restaurants, tourist attractions, airports, or close to the car rental agencies themselves. When the travelers pull over, "good Samaritans" quickly appear to help change the tire - and just as quickly remove valuables from the car, sometimes brandishing weapons. Drivers with flat tires are advised to drive, if at all possible, to the nearest service station or other public area and change the tire themselves, watching valuables at all times. Another common scam involves one person dropping change in a crowded area, such as on a bus. When the victim tries to assist, a wallet or other item is taken.

Personal Safety in Costa Rica:

While no country is free from threat to one's safety or health peril, Costa Rica is comparatively stable and secure.  Costa Rica has had democratic elections since the 19th century and has no military.  Sadly, the disparity in wealth between the poorest of Costa Rica's citizens and visitors to this country has led to an increase in theft, particularly in the capital city of San Jose.  Students should be vigilant and alert to their surroundings. For example, they should carry with them no more money than needed for one or two days, and certainly not their passport, which should remain locked up in a safe place.  A local orientation upon arrival will provide cautions and advice on how to stay safe and avoid becoming a potential target.


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Special Terms

Students should review carefully the Education Abroad Participant Contract, included in the Education Abroad application process. It describes students' responsibilities with regard to participation, and includes information on insurance, and cancellation and refund policies. Students will be asked to electronically sign this document.  To view this document before applying, please click here

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Contacts for More Information

Faculty Contact:

Evguenia Davenport
Office: CPR 445
(727) 644-2922

Tom Juster
School of Geosciences
Office: CHE-213B
(813) 974-9691

Questions regarding study abroad, program enrollment, registration and payment of fees:

Nancy Di Bella
Education Abroad Office, CGS 101
University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Ave.
Tampa, Florida 33620-5550
Phone: (813) 974-4314 Fax: (813) 974-4613

This program is currently not accepting applications.