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25 Things You Did Not Know About Studying In Costa Rica

Many international students are beginning to identify unpopular but exciting and worthy study abroad destinations outside Europe and North America. If you are open to such option to study somewhere more tropical, Costa Rica may be just the right place.

Sandwiched between Nicaragua and Panama in Central America, the Republic of Costa Rica is a gem of a tropical utopia. There are benefits and challenges to studying here. So, today, we bring you 25 things you probably did not know about studying in Costa Rica.

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Let’s begin…

  • University education in Costa Rica is like no other

Studying abroad isn’t just for the education, but for the experiences you get outside of classroom that opens your mind to a culture different from your own. In Costa Rica going to classes is just a plus, you get to learn experientially through field excursions that take you up close with the places and things you’re studying. You’ll get to see the country, flora and fauna, and actually get to see, touch, and smell the things you’re learning about. How about that?

  • Prepare for a hot rainy climate

Costa Rica is a country which sits at the equator; this means the country never experiences winter but a lot of hot and rainy weather. The climate in Costa Rica is hot all year round in the plains and along the coasts, while it’s milder in the plateau. So prepare for the heat and rains.

  • Costa Rica has one of the highest literacy rates in the world

At 97 percent, Costa Rica has one of the highest literacy rates in all of Latin America. Education is available and encouraged at every level, including primary, secondary, and private or public universities. This high quality scholastic environment is of the utmost benefit for students who choose to pursue study abroad in Costa Rica. 

  • There are three groups of Universities in Costa Rica

Costa Rican universities are divided into three groups: public, private and para-university institutions, which are either public or private. There are 50 private universities and four public. Public universities are often the cheapest universities in Costa Rica.

  • The Universities rank high in Latin America

Costa Rica’s universities and colleges rank high in Latin America. They continue to offer prestigious Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D programmes for international students. The highest-ranking university in Costa Rica is the University of Costa Rica, which is ranked at number 19th in Latin America in QS university ranking.

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  • Learn a little Spanish

Most Costa Ricans speak a fair amount of English, but you will still need some Spanish if you want to be able to communicate with that vegetable vendor or the bar owner in your locale. Learn some Spanish; it’s a nice to learn language, not to mention it makes communication outside campus easy for you.

  • Tuition fees are cheap

Public universities in Costa Rica charge fairly cheap tuition fees. On average, tuition fees could range from $1000 to $2500 in public universities. If you opt for a private university, you may have to pay higher amounts.

  • Cost of living is relatively low

Costa Rica has an exceptionally low cost of living which is music to the ears of most potential international student. A budget of around $500-$700 will cover for most of your expenses including, accommodation, feeding and utilities.

  • Costa Rica has excellent health care

The universal healthcare system in place in Costa Rica is one of the best in the region. The World Health Organization even ranks it higher than the U.S. Register and acquire a health insurance from either the government or private organization and enjoy quality healthcare while you study.

  • Funds for the military go to education instead

After abolishing its army in 1949, the country’s defense budget was reallocated to fund education, among other valuable initiatives. The Ministry of Culture aimed to replace the military with ‘an army of teachers’, and human development has been an essential element when it comes to developing the school curriculum.

  • Most of the universities are in the capital

Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose is home to almost 80% of the institutions in the country. Expect to live amongst many international students if you study in the capital. This would be a great way for you to make friends and feel at home with other international students.

  • There are few scholarships available

If you are short on funds and still want to study in Costa Rica, there are quite a few scholarships to apply for in Costa Rica. And they are mostly partially funded and cover fees like travel costs or accommodation. Some of these scholarships include the Fund for Education Award, Sol Education Abroad Scholarships, Robert B. Bailey Scholarship and many more.

  • Classes are mostly in Spanish except for Masters

For most undergraduate courses, Spanish is the medium of communication except for a few private universities which offer undergraduate programmes in English. There are however quite a number of classes offered in English at postgraduate level.

  • TOEFL is required but not in all cases

Part of the requirement for admission into a university in Costa Rica is your TOEFL or IELTS results. If you can however, prove that you have studied in English, you will be exempt from this requirement.

  • There are few jobs available to international students

To be able to work in Costa Rica you must apply for a resident permit. But most students don’t bother searching for jobs because there are rarely any. The only jobs readily available to international students and expatriates are English teaching jobs and they are usually too demanding for a student.

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  • Pack for a tropical country

You don’t want to arrive in Costa Rica with the wrong clothes. Be sure to pack your flip flops and plenty of tropical shirts, because Costa Rica is gorgeous all year long with sunny weather. Immerse yourself in the climate and geography and enjoy your stay.

  • The country shows you nature in its most diverse form

Costa Rica offers some of the most spectacular natural formations and wildlife Earth has to offer. It is home to a variety of mountains, rainforests, beaches, rivers, National Parks, and 14 known volcanoes, six of which are active. Not to mention, it is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, with over 500,000 species of wildlife.

  • The people are warm and welcoming

Costa Ricans is regarded as one of the happiest places on earth. A common saying among the locals is “pura vida,” which means “pure life.” Everywhere you go in Costa Rica, you will often be welcomed with smiles by the locals.

  • Tourism is big business

All that natural beauty and the diverse landscape with two oceans and access to countless adventure activities have made Costa Rica a great vacation destination. In 1995, tourism took over bananas as the country’s largest foreign exchange earner. Enjoy the country while you can or you may return someday to explore places you failed to explore as a student.

  • Acceptance rates are low

Getting admitted to study an undergraduate degree in Costa Rica can be tough. Universities are very selective with the students they admit. The country’s oldest and largest institution, The University of Costa Rica has acceptance rates of just 25%. However, acceptance rates for postgraduate programmes are higher.

  • Be security conscious

Costa Rica suffers from many of the same problems that plague most Latin American countries, like drug trafficking, poverty, and economic struggles. That being said, Costa Rica is still pretty safe when compared to some of its more violent neighbors. There are moments where you may feel threatened; it would be wise to be security conscious. And avoid locations where there are few students or immigrants.

  • Prepare to use buses a lot and walk when they are not available

Costa Rica is not Europe where you would expect to use trains and planes. Here its buses all the way. Bus transportation is inexpensive, pretty reliable, and the drivers know their way around.

  • Catholicism is the official religion

Costa Rica is a deeply religious country with a large Christian population; Roman Catholicism however is the state religion. Roman Catholics make up over half the population.

  • Studying in Costa Rica is like an adventure

With so many incredible natural wonders, studying abroad in Costa Rica is an adventure. In their downtime, students can burn calories on the beach partaking in everything from snorkeling and scuba diving to surfing, sailing, and deep sea fishing.

  • Costa Rica is not an island

This may not seem like necessary information but its best to help you dispel the false information before you hear them. Costa Rica is not an Island like many people assume. Yes, it’s a small country, but it is part of the South American mainland.

There you have it. 25 things you probably did not know about studying in Costa Rica. Will you like to study in Costa Rica? Or do you have experience studying in this country? Tell us about it in the comments section below. If you are yet to subscribe to After School Africa channel, now is a good time to subscribe. Until next time, YOUR SUCCESS MATTERS.

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