1. Where to?
So, now you’ve decided to move to Paradise to study- where will you go? Again, the starting point for this article is exchange through Swedish Universities, first and foremost Linnaeus University, and thus there are three options to choose from. Even if you shouldn’t choose USAC to study with, these guides can be used generally to decide on what part of the country you want to live in. If you are interested in more specific areas, other areas, more tips, or want me to write about something that is not mentioned here: WRITE me! Comment below or send me an email :)
Heredia and San Ramón (San José)
The San José area has a sunny mountain coolness that turns into real cold at nighttime (except during summer), astonishing views, busy town(s) and a maze-like bus system. If you opt for a city life and a cultural scene either of these should be good options. There are plenty of buses to take you all around San José, both in the center and to the outskirts.
Find schedule between Heredia – San José and San Ramón – San José here. In addition, buses for the Caribbean coast, West Coast, Guanacaste, Nicaragua, Panama etc. depart from around the capital.
The environment offers- in addition to mountains- trees and green nature despite both places being quite busy cities. There are plenty more everyday activities around than the beach option (Puntarenas), such as the movies, theatre, concerts, restaurants, coffee places, yoga studios, gyms and other workout places. Downtown San José and all of its parks also offer regular events, such as free activities on Saturdays with Enámorate de tu ciudad, organic festivals, markets, concerts and more. Read more about the capital of Costa Rica here.
Is the natural option if you want to live by the beach. Puntarenas is a fishing village and still today a lot of boats and ships come, go and randomly hang out outside the harbors. This includes the huge cruise ships that about once a week dock along Paseo de los Turistas- for the tourists to beach it and buy coffee. Due to Puntarenas’ industry, and of course a bunch of other things, the beach and most of town is dirty. It is a great place as a starting point for your travels, since it’s a kind of transportation hub of the west coast. The ferry easily takes you to Nicoya Peninsula and busses leave regularly for both Guanacaste in the North, Jaco, Manuel Antonio and all the beaches on the southwest coast, San Ramón and San José. The town is small without any real activities besides the beach, a couple touristy restaurants and football games at the stadium every now and again. As with all places, Puntarenas has its charm. For instance, it offers tranquility and a chance to live in the heart of the Tico culture. The opportunity to practice Spanish here is great too since around town there is not much English spoken (as soon as you get away from El Paseo de los Turistas that is). The city center is cute with a useful and decent food market that brings you local fruits, veggies, fish and more.
2. Oh, you fell in love in Central America, Costa Rica and Paradise too? How to extend the stay
Volunteering. That is the word. If you have money left still, there are also a lot of interning opportunities around the country. Simply, I’ve put together a list of links you can have a look at according to your preferred interest. Sure, it takes some time reading through it all, send applications, make decisions and what not but you wanted to stay, right? Remember that YOU are the only one in charge of your life, now go out there and LIVE IT! Much Love and Luck to you on your path. If you feel like sharing your traveling stories with me (before, during, after or always), I’d be honoured.
Volunteer Latin America: http://www.volunteerlatinamerica.com/projects/index.html
Great source to find small, cheap and free projects: http://www.volunteersouthamerica.net/
Great blog to find all kinds of info about Work Exchange http://www.broketourist.net/tag/work-exchange/
There are organisations around that are not listed online and that doesn’t necessarily cost anything. The Caribbean Coast is unfortunately a poor area in Costa Rica and in need of loving souls helping out in smaller farms and what not. Go to Puerto Viejo (de Talamanca) and have a look around.
Pura Vida siempre!