Pura Vida. Costa Rica’s national motto means “pure life” – and pura vida is exactly what you’ll experience as you explore the wonders of this tropical, exotic paradise. Over the course of our nine-day cultural and language adventure, you will immerse yourself in a country rich with fascinating wildlife, outdoor adventure, and some of the most beautiful rainforests the world has to offer. You will spend a week honing your Spanish skills at an engaging and interactive Costa Rican language school where your outdoor classroom is canopied by the green, verdant rainforest around you and visited by the occasional toucan. What’s more, you’ll dig into meaningful service projects alongside locals in the lively and unique communities you visit.
Spanish Classes in Turrialba
We’ll jump right into our adventure with morning Spanish classes in the lush, beautiful town of Turrialba, surrounded by high mountains and vibrant forest. With the guidance of our Spanish teachers, we will learn useful vocabulary and use new tools to communicate with locals and absorb Costa Rican culture. Our experienced teachers work creatively to make sure students are not just engaged, but having fun as the Spanish language becomes both comfortable and familiar.
Service with Local Organizations and Exploration of Turrialba
Our afternoons in the Turrialba area will be spent putting our new skills to the test as we spend time volunteering at a senior home and a center for indigenous women. We’ll also spend some of our service time helping out at an English language-learning camp for local children in the area. Our time volunteering will be very interactive; we’ll play games, converse, and help the residents of the senior home and center for indigenous women with tasks. On an afternoon off from service, we’ll head to a local waterfall/swimming hole and hit the lively Turrialba market to collect savory local eats and perhaps some souvenirs!
Manuel Antonio National Park: Wildlife Tour, Beaches & Zip Lining
For our final days together we’ll head to the Pacific coast to explore Manuel Antonio National Park and its astonishing wealth of wildlife and natural beauty. We’ll take a guided tour of the Park with rangers, get to know the resident sloths, and enjoy the antics of the three species of monkeys in the area. We’ll spend a morning soaring through the trees on Central America’s longest zip line, and swim in warm, clear Pacific waters! A farewell dinner in San Jose and a final evening of pura vida with new friends will round out our rich and full Costa Rican adventure!
Please see our General FAQ page for many more frequently asked questions and answers!
How physically challenging is CRLS?
Given a physical challenge rating of 2 (out of a maximum of 10), we consider CRLS to be a beginning language & service trip that any moderately fit, motivated student can successfully complete. Though the majority of our service projects will not be too physically demanding, students will engage in moderate hikes throughout the trip. While the physical challenge level of this trip is relatively low, students can expect to be challenged intellectually (appropriate to their level of proficiency) during their Spanish language classes. Please note that all of Apogee’s Challenge Levels are not scientific and are subjectively calculated by the Apogee staff.
How much Spanish does my child need to know prior to his or her trip?
None – Spanish-language experience is not a prerequisite for CRLS. This trip is designed to accommodate a wide variety of Spanish-speaking levels – from none at all to fluency. Upon arriving at the Spanish school, each student will complete a brief placement evaluation. Students will be placed with teachers who will work specifically with his/her level – in groups of no more than six students. Students with no previous Spanish-speaking experience are encouraged to dive into this experience as well.
How many hours of Spanish language instruction will I receive on CRLS? How many hours of community service will I earn?
While at our language school, students will spend 3-5 hours a day receiving instruction. This amounts to approximately 15 hours of Spanish instruction over the course of the trip. When performing service, students will spend between 3-4 hours a day on projects for a total of 10 to 15 hours and will receive a letter verifying the service at the summer’s end.
Aside from the trip cost, what are the additional expenses for this trip?
Apogee’s tuition costs are meant to be all-inclusive and include all meal, accommodation, and activity fees. The most significant additional expenses on our Costa Rica Language & Service trip will include travel to and from San Jose, Costa Rica, a sleeping bag liner (optional), a day pack (most school backpacks will work fine), and hiking boots or shoes.
Will my child need to get any special vaccinations before traveling to Costa Rica?
Apogee has no vaccination requirements beyond those required in the US. Please note that the US Center for Disease Control recommends most travelers to Costa Rica obtain Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines. Families are encouraged to consult with their physician for more information, and to familiarize themselves with the most recent recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the U.S. State Department.
What does a typical day on CRLS look like?
The first half of the trip will vary from the second half. During our first five days, students will engage in interactive Spanish classes in the central valley of Costa Rica. Classes will run in the afternoons from about 1-5; mornings will be spent engaged in volunteer projects coordinated with our Spanish school. The second half of the trip will be spent primarily at a hostel near Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific Ocean. Students will learn about local ecology, cook authentic Costa Rican cuisine, and explore waterfalls and swimming holes. Students should expect to be up early (around 6:30 a.m.) in order to take advantage of the cooler temperatures in the mornings.
Where will my child be sleeping at night?
All accommodations on CRLS will be indoors in hostels. Sleeping accommodations are fairly rustic, but students should expect to have a bed with sheets and blankets every night of the trip as well as access to running water and showers on a daily basis.
How will I communicate with my child while they are on this trip?
We are a technology-free program, meaning that your child won’t have access to their phones or other electronic devices over the course of their trip. That said, students will get a chance to call home on their trip leaders’ phones once over the course of the trip (usually on day 5 or 6 of the trip). Since physical mail to Costa Rica is frustratingly slow, we have an email stop as a part of the program instead of a physical mail stop. Parents, relatives, and friends are welcome to use this to send an email to a student that they know (the trip leader will share the emails with the student). If you have an urgent message to get to your child outside of their one phone call, please call our office and we’ll work to get you connected with your child.
Should I send my child to Costa Rica with an international phone plan?
We encourage families to send their child with a phone for pre- and post-trip communication. However, because Apogee does not permit the use of cell phones by students while on trip, we do not recommend signing up for a Costa Rican phone plan. If you’d like your child to be able to use their phone in Costa Rica on departure day, we recommend you be in touch with your phone provider about any international calling programs they have. We recommend “Travelpass” (Verizon) or “International Day Pass” (AT&T), which charge you a $10 fee per day of use in other countries. To make their weekly call home while on trip, your child will use their leader’s phone to call you.
Is this trip van-supported? How do they get from place to place?
Apogee’s leaders do not drive on international trips. Instead, Apogee works with a transportation company in Costa Rica to shuttle the group from place to place. This means that there is no van in which students can leave extra belongings. To that end, please follow the packing list very closely to avoid over-packing.
Should I send my child to Costa Rica with an international phone plan or a calling card?
We encourage families to send their child with a phone for pre- and post-trip communication. However, because Apogee does not permit the use of cell phones by students while on trip, we do not recommend signing up for a Costa Rican phone plan. If you’d like your child to be able to use their phone in Costa Rica on departure day, we recommend you be in touch with your phone provider about any international calling programs they have. We recommend “Travelpass” (Verizon) or “International Day Pass” (AT&T), which charge you a $10 fee per day of use in other countries. To make their weekly call home while on trip, your child will use their leader’s phone to call you over WiFi. We’ll likely recommend parents download a free app, such as Viber or WhatsApp, to facilitate calls home. Look for this information in the spring.
This trip starts outside of the United States. What do I need to know before traveling internationally?
In addition to needing a valid passport, we encourage you to coordinate travel with other attendees. To that end, we’re happy to put you in touch with other enrolled families from your region. Please note that Apogee staff members do not travel with students; our trip leaders will already be in Costa Rica on arrival day and will stay in Costa Rica after the trip ends. Apogee staff and trip leaders will have a detailed flight itinerary for each student and will be at the airport to greet them on arrival; our staff will also accompany students to the airport to assist with departures. We will provide enrolled families with a Travel Information document covering details specific to traveling to and from Costa Rica, including airport information and arrival and departure time windows. We know that international travel can be daunting – rest assured that regardless of flight cancellations or delays, we will always have someone on hand to assist with our students’ arrivals and departures.