Life in San José
Most of the LASP semester is spent in San José, Costa Rica's capital city. Like most urban areas, San José is a city of contrasts: wealth and poverty, the powerful and the powerless, theatrical productions and street festivals, upright citizens and petty thieves. It is an exciting and challenging location for your cross-cultural introduction to Latin American society.
Each student will live with 3 different host families in the course of the semester, allowing a broader view of Central American family life. During the first segment, each student is placed with a carefully-selected family that lives near LASP. Students live briefly with a family during the trip to Guatemala, and during the final weeks of the semester students live with and work alongside families outside of the greater metropolitan area of San José. The families who are chosen to "adopt" one LASP student each semester come from a cross-section of the Christian community. Families are urged to integrate students into normal family lives as much as possible. Homes may be relatively simple, so students may share a room with a "sister" or "brother." When appropriate, students should expect to help out around the house. Meals will likely be very simple and students will be served the same food that their family eats. Rice and beans are staples in Costa Rica and are usually eaten once or twice a day.
Costa Rica has a 100-year democratic tradition, respects human rights and has no army; people are proud of their peaceful traditions. While it is impossible to predict or prevent risk, if one stays out of problematic areas and practices preventative measures (about which students will receive more instruction during orientation), the threat of danger is reduced. Each semester the LASP staff monitors the conditions of the regions they are hoping to visit in an effort to avoid unnecessary risks.
Participants are expected to cover any medical expenses which might be incurred and so must be covered by a family or institutional health insurance policy. All students must obtain an iNext or International Student Identification Card which provides supplemental health insurance to cover certain needs unique to international situations.
In accordance with the U.S. Center for Disease Control, (CDC) participants in all CCCU cross-cultural programs must have Hepatitis A immunization. Other than that, the U.S. CDC indicates that immunizations beyond those required in the U.S. are not necessary for travel in the areas visited during LASP. However, students may wish to consult a doctor and/or the CDC, as the latter does note a low risk of contracting cholera, dengue, malaria, zika or papalomoyo in parts of Central America via contaminated food or water and through insect bites.
Most often you will be using buses to go to and from classes. The bus system in San Jose is dependable, well-regulated and inexpensive. Average bus fare is 50-75 cents. Taxis are also readily available. Legal taxis are red with a yellow triangle on the door and their license plates begin with "SJ." A meter inside the cab will tell you the fare. Typically you can get anywhere in San Jose for $5 - $10.
At the end of your semester, you will participate in a Re-entry workshop prior to returning to your respective homes. The purpose of this activity is to prepare each student for the challenges of transitioning back into the home culture, to reflect on ways to incorporate what you´ve learned into your daily life, and to communicate the value of the skills and knowledge you´ve gained to potential employers.