If you haven’t realized it yet, Latin America is a BIG place! With an area of 8.1 million square miles and a population of 590 million people, Latin America can be pretty different from one region to another. So, in this week’s FAQs, we give you some details about the program’s location.
The Latin American Studies Program is located just outside of San Jose, Costa Rica in an area called Sabanilla.
What is the geography of the country like?
Costa Rica is a small country. It is roughly the size of West Virginia, covering approximately 20,000 square miles.
Despite its size, Costa Rica actually has a great diversity of landscapes! It a beautiful country with tropical rain forests, cloud forests, mountains, volcanoes, white sand beaches and winding rivers.
So if you want to explore, you will have plenty of options. Just make sure to bring some sturdy shoes!
San José has a very mild climate. It is located in the Central Valley of the country which makes for a comfortable temperature year round. The average temperatures during the entire year can range from mid-60s to mid-70s.
There are two seasons in the country of Costa Rica: rainy and dry. The dry season typically is from Dec. – April. The rainy season goes from May – Nov. During this period, the sun usually shines until midday and then it’s likely that it will rain for the entire afternoon. Umbrellas become an additional appendage during this time!
Lunches and dinners may include rice, beans, bread, tortillas, chicken, plantains, potatoes, eggs, juice or other items. Fruit is plentiful, but apart from bananas and plantains, they are not an integral part of the diet.
You will also enjoy the mid-morning and mid-afternoon coffee breaks, which are common and especially delicious with the local, fresh coffee!
In the United States it is easy to stay connected to family and friends. But what about in Costa Rica?? How can you get in touch with LASP classmates and new local friends? How will you stay up to date on what is happening back home? In the FAQs below we discuss common questions related to communication and technology.
U.S. cell phone plans are typically very expensive to use in Costa Rica. You are welcome to look into an international plan. Once you arrive in Costa Rica, you do have the option to purchase a pay-as-you-go cell phone (or chip if your phone is unlocked) to use throughout the semester. However, we strongly encourage students to reduce their cell phone usage during the LASP semester, a recommendation past students have found very valuable.
We strongly recommend that you bring a laptop, though it is not required. Having a computer will be helpful in completing assignments and staying in touch with loved ones back home. Internet will be available and accessible, but not as readily as it is in the US. Some host families have internet connections, and there are numerous internet cafés nearby.
If you aren’t able to bring a computer, don’t worry! Limited access to computers is available in the LASP office for academic purposes.
The best way to keep in touch is through your computer. Most students have used Skype, Google Talk or some other VOIP service when calling home, which allows you to connect with family who are also logged into that service. You can also buy credit to call a landline or cell phone through this service.
Another option is purchasing calling cards.
Instead, we recommend that family and friends come to see you after the semester concludes or at a later date. That way, you will be free from your studies, and you will also be a much better tour guide after a semester of living in Costa Rica.
It's fun to read about life on LASP, but at some point you need may actually need to get to Costa Rica. So what do you need to know before you step on that plane? Read this week’s FAQs about travel to find out!
You will book your own roundtrip travel between your home their and San Jose, Costa Rica. Once you are accepted to the program, we will send all the nitty-gritty details about travel.
There are a number of requirements needed for the passport application. Once you submit the application, it generally takes 4-6 weeks until you receive your passport. If you already have a passport, make certain that it is valid until 6 months beyond your return date. If not, you will have to apply for renewal. To apply for or renew your passport, visit the U.S. Department of State’s website
LASP will obtain visas for other countries that you may visit if needed.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may have a different visa process. Please contact the LASP advisor at [email protected].
However, for safety reasons, you are not allowed to travel out of the country during your time with LASP. Of course, you can definitely explore other Latin American countries on your own time either before or after the semester to getter a better perspective on the diversity within the region!
While your time with the Latin American Studies Program is sure to be an eye opening adventure, your main purpose in being there will be to learn. In fact, we think this is half the adventure, especially since you will be learning through doing and serving in addition to time in the classroom. Read below to find out more about the program’s academics.
You will engage in these discussions through the lens of faith: What does Christianity look like in Latin American society? How does this impact your own faith? And how can you integrate the knowledge and experiences that you will gain in Latin America with your faith when you return to the US?
Your courses will include lectures, seminars, local, regional and national travel, family and community activities and service-learning opportunities. The initial courses are designed to provide a context and foundation for the rest of the semester, and through your academic concentration you will explore these themes more deeply and how they relate to a particular area of your interest.
To learn more about the specifics of each course, visit the LASP Academics webpage. You will find course descriptions, suggestions for equivalent courses and syllabi.
Our LASP staff members will also give lecture and lead discussion times. All staff members are from different backgrounds but are united in their deep concern for the Latin American region and a desire to see students’ lives changed by their experience with the program. Read more about our team here: https://bestsemester.com/locations-and-programs/costa-rica/faculty-and-s...
In the past, LASP students have assisted on construction projects, micro or small businesses, in centers of conservation for tropical flora and fauna, classrooms, orphanages, day-care centers, hospitals, penitentiaries, farms and much more! Many students describe this time as one of the highlights of the program.
You have probably already figured out that your day-to-day to life in Latin America will look quite different than it does right now. But you might be wondering exactly how different, right?
The group will then take a study trip to Nicaragua to broaden your understanding of different Latin American realities. In Nicaragua you will meet with speakers, visit important landmarks and participate in a home stay experience with a Nicaraguan family.
Following the Nicaragua study trip, you will all disperse into academic concentrations. During this time, you will dive further in depth into a specific area of your interest and how it relates to issues you have been discussing throughout the semester. At that time you will also complete a three week internship/practicum.
Your classes will be 5 days a week and normally begin at 8 a.m. Depending upon where you live, you can choose to walk or take a short bus ride to class. Your host family will pack lunch for you to enjoy on campus. Afternoon classes run from 1-4:30 pm, and you will usually arrive home around dinner time. After filling up on delicious Costa Rican food, you have the evening free.