Studying abroad in Costa Rica: this is all you need to know Part 3

Read Part One about Visa details

Read Part Two about Flight tickets


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 hereIn 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:

Great source to find small, cheap and free projects:


Work Exchange

Great blog to find all kinds of info about Work Exchange

Bonus tip!

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!

Studying Abroad in Costa Rica: this is all you need to know Part 2

Read Part 1 here

1. Flight tickets. Can I enter Costa Rica without a return ticket?

No, you cannot. All countries require that you can prove that you are going to leave before your visa expires. Upon check-in, the airline are ought to check your departure ticket. If you have bought a two- (or more) way ticket with them the computer says so, and they won’t ask you to show it again. If you have a one-way ticket, they are required to ask you to show your departure ticket or they won’t let you on the plane. Sometimes (most times, like always) we don’t know when we want to leave though.

So what are the options?

Get a student visa. With a student visa you don’t need to have your return flight booked within 3 months. Read more here.

Buy a student ticket with Kilroy or the like. They are more flexible and most times cheaper than their regular tickets. In addition, you can change the dates of the return flight for 500 SEK or less. Note that this option requires you to have an ISCI card.

Buy loose flights and cancel. Find a ticket on the same day you are leaving that you can buy and then cancel after 24 hours (after having entered the country) and get a refund. Look for cheap flights between Costa Rica and USA; there is a variety to choose from!

Buy a bus ticket. In some countries, and especially when walking across borders, it is enough to show a bus ticket that proves your departure from the country you are entering. I have never tried it myself in Costa Rica, but there are trustworthy companies driving to both Panama and Nicaragua. You might not be able to cancel the ticket and get your money back with this option though; then again it might be cheaper.

Lovely Montezuma on Nicoya Peninsula Costa Rica  

2.             Home stay vs. Finding your own place

For the record, I have never lived with a family but always on my own. For me the choice is easy as I am an adult that likes to take care of myself. There might be a bunch of positive things about home stay that I yet haven’t heard of though, please share in the comments below!

Homestay You pay a set amount each month that covers your room, all meals and laundry, and the school hooks you up. Easy! Keep in mind though that you are part of the family you are visiting and have to stick to their rules, there are usually many people living in a small space and they expect you to sit down and have dinner with them unless you tell them differently. In other words, it is like living at home as a teenager. At least for Swedes that might be a huge challenge since we generally move out when we are 17 or 18 (not into dorms but apartments). My American friends told me that they found the food challenging and I don’t doubt that one second! If you have any allergies or eating differently from the Tico norm (such as vegetarian, gluten free or vegan): don’t choose this option! Traditional meals (and big ones) will be served. If I recall correctly, the cost is about 300 dollars per month. The upside with homestay is the inevitable language practice. Even though a lot of Ticos speak very good English nowadays, you get to meet the entire family where grandmothers, nephews and cousins don’t. It really offers a great opportunity to work your everyday language skills.

Finding your own apartment. Depending on where in the country you are, this might give you some extra work. As a rule of thumb, look on craigslist, Google and check with friends and the school even before coming to Costa Rica. While in the country, read local newspapers and ask locals how to go about finding a good apartment in your town. In San José it shouldn’t be a problem finding something fairly quick, depending on how picky you are with location, price and standard. In the smaller areas (unless touristy) I recommend trying to catch the suggestions the school might give you straight away! I did and I never regretted it. I paid 300 dollars a month plus electricity and food. Being able to do your own grocery shopping, cooking and coming and going as I want plus having my own space when I need it are worth maybe spending a little more (in the end I’m pretty sure I spent less than the others anyway since they ended up buying a lot of meals). This option too gives a great opportunity to practice your Spanish, should you choose so (as with homestay- you make the choice weather to practice or not). Your landlords will most likely speak Spanish, as your neighbors. Outside that, life is like anywhere else: i.e. you have to go out to socialize and meet new friends and people to talk to. Actually, I would say this option offers more language learning opportunities than homestay since you have to get to know people outside school in a different way. For instance, the grocery shopping- every week me and my roommate went to the local market to buy our veggies and we made time to stay and talk with the vendors about the fruits, vegetables and Costa Rican life. You won’t learn that in school!

Pura Vida Siempre and Good Luck!

Studying Abroad in Costa Rica: this is all you need to know (part one)

Studying Abroad in Costa Rica: this is all you need to know (part one)

Tourist Visa vs. Student Visa This means that after 3 months, you will have to leave the country and stay out for 72 hours before coming back in again...

Read More

Punta (and all of these moments I'll never replace)

It feels like being a visitor in your hometown.

But everything that once made it home is gone.

I walk the same streets as before; the legs know where to take me.

But the streets are empty.

I dwell in memories and confusion.

It’s old and yet it’s new.



I’ve always said that you shouldn’t return to a place where you had a great time. Just enjoy the memory, because you can’t recreate the situation.

I know I am right.

I knew I was right before I came here.


I don’t know why, but I wasn’t looking for it


It’s the people around you who make the greatness.

They create the feeling

Pura Vida! 


More From Puntarenas

Studying Abroad in Costa Rica: this is all you need to know (part one)

Tourist Visa vs. Student Visa This means that after 3 months, you will have to leave the country and stay out for 72 hours before coming back in again...

Avslut och Avstamp

Tiden har en tendens att flyga förbi. I förrgår var det exakt fyra månader sedan jag och Ellen kom till Costa Rica. Landet tog emot oss med öppna armar och vi kastade oss in i äventyret.

I torsdags skrev vi de sista tentorna och med blandade känslor gick vi från skolan med A i alla klasser. Kvällen var märklig och ledsam. Den grupp som under fyra månader skrattat, roat, rest, pluggat och många gånger irriterat skulle splittras under natten. Månen hängde som en stor,tjock, gul och halväten pannkaka över oss där vi satt vid havet vid vår sista bonfire med Las Brisas-öl. Det var ledsamt.

De allra flesta åkte tillbaka till staterna, några kommer tillbaka efter jul och andra reste vidare. Men, vad händer nu? Vi är fortfarande förvirrade och kan kanske inte helt förstå att vi har lämnat Puntarenas, vår lägenhet och de söta amerikanerna för att ta oss mot Panama och möta upp Mariella.

De kommande veckorna kommer att vara hektiska. Ellen åker till Sverige den 20e december och jag vågar inte ens tänka på hur jag ska klara mig utan henne. Mariella och jag ska, trots julehetsen, försöka resa runt några veckor innan även hon lämnar för Svedala i mitten på januari.

Som de flesta säkert vet så består min sista termin av praktik och nu har allt blivit färdigställt att jag kommer tillbringa även kommande månader här i Costa Rica. Jag flyttar till den karibiska kusten i januari där jag ska starta upp ett kommunikationsprojekt för ett wellness företag. Det låter som en dröm och jag ser verkligen fram emot det. Detta innebär alltså att min hemresebiljett nu är ombokad till juni istället, så om inget annat händer kanske vi ses i Moder Svea till sommaren.

Skriv gärna en rad efter att ni skummat igenom bilder av terminen som gått.

Cydney, Magie, Ellen

You have to go on and be crazy. Craziness is like heaven.
-Jimi Hendrix

Volcano Arenal/hot springs tour

Tamarindo beach

Playa Conchal

Well, ya... seen that one a few times before..

Sunset in Tamarindo

 Americans playing incomprehensible games <3

Cydney & Magie practicing the snap

dots, beer and love <3

Pura Vida a todos

Too much love will kill you, Just as sure as none at all

Trying to imagine a life without Costa Rica is impossible. It’s like thinking about how big space is; the brain just doesn’t want to cooperate.

Pizza nite in Puntarenas

Normally, when travels (or what ever episode I’m currently in) are running out, I’m freaking out for a while but then realize that it’s time to move on. I want to keep moving, see new things and find new experiences. I am still that person, however, this time is different.


I’m not ready to leave. Nowhere has been more home and nowhere has been more right (now). Even though I have been here for 4 months, Costa Rica still has more to give.

Classic Jaco sunset

Unfortunately, some good-byes are inevitable. Changes still have to be made. I have to say good-bye to beautiful places and close friends, as we are all moving to different directions to continue our journeys.

craziness & love

Random concert in San Jose. Parque Morázan

We are trying to make plans while we are trying to stop time. We want to hold on for a little longer.

I will stay in Costa Rica, but I will still have to say good-bye to friends who leave or live on the other side of the country. One might think that I should be used to it by now but seems like it gets harder each time. Maybe I love a little more for every new travel and meeting. And why shouldn’t I? Love with your heart wide open. Experience with all your feelings. Even though it might hurt, at least you have fully experienced and learnt life.

Pura Vida