Costa Rica (2 weeks): Biodiversity, Ecology & Sustainability

Sustainability and the Environment

Currently Enrolling 

The rainforest is your classroom as you learn about conservation in one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth. Witness sea turtles and other wildlife. Hike, zip-line, and swim along the way.

Sustainability

Language

Community Service

Certificate

Physical Activity

Wildlife

Water Activity

Outdoor Activity

DEPARTURE

July 5, 2021

APPLY NOW

Program Description

Summer 2021: We understand the need for young people to connect with their peers globally now, more than ever. In our 87-year history, 2020 was the first time The Experiment paused all operations abroad. It is our sincere intention to run programs abroad this summer, no matter how small the selection. We hope the stars align in our favor as we do everything we can to make study abroad for high school students a reality once again.

Read our FAQs here to learn more about The Experiment’s 360-degree approach to risk management related to the global COVID-19 pandemic as well as our enrollment process and timeline.

A remote biological station nestled in the rainforest will be your classroom as you learn about Costa Rica’s efforts to protect the more than 500,000 species of rare tropical birds, indigenous animals, and plants. An experienced Costa Rican naturalist will guide you throughout the program. After zip-lining and hiking your way through the rainforest’s dense canopy, visit the Térraba-Sierpe National Wetlands, one of the largest mangrove systems in Central America, home to a wide variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, and fish.

In San José, learn about Costa Rican culture with visits to museums and markets. From there, you will visit nature reserves and national parks, kayak in the aquamarine waters of the Golfo Dulce or along the Osa Peninsula, and explore the rainforests of Isla Chira, which has the most thriving biodiversity in all of Costa Rica.

Learn more about Costa Rica’s culture during a two-week period of home hospitality focused activities and service projects in local community. There, you will take basic Spanish language classes, enjoy nature hikes, and eat traditional meals like gallo pinto. Complete 40+ hours of community service as you work on a project that focuses on rural development, ecological sustainability, or local community.

Following your host community stay, you will visit the Ostional Turtle Lodge, a conservation center set near mangroves where millions of baby turtles hatch every year, to learn about sea turtle conservation efforts. Before your Experiment comes to a close, sail the Pacific on a catamaran with your group.

PROGRAM AT A GLANCE

Program Availability:

Filling

Prerequisite:

None

Dates:

July 5, 2021 - July 20, 2021

Program Fee:

$5,920.00

(does not include airfare)

Sample Itinerary

  •  
    Days 1–2

    Orientation in San Antonio de Belén and San José

    • Learn about the history, culture, and ecology of Costa Rica
    • Go on a walking tour of the city
    • Explore diverse neighborhoods and sample Costa Rican food in street-side cafes
    • Get to know other members of your group during activities
    • Practice your Spanish language skills
    • During the orientation period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.

    During the orientation period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.

  •  
    Days 3–8

    Thematic Focus on the Osa Peninsula

    • Go hiking with local naturalists and kayak the peaceful Golfo Dulce surrounded by rainforest, private reserves, and mangrove.
    • Travel by boat to the Campanario Biological Station and learn about the station’s project to conserve rare and endangered flora and fauna
    • Visit Corcovado National Park and see bat caves, hike trails, and learn about conservation projects in the area
    • Experience the marvelous manufacturing process of organic chocolate

    During this period, you and your group will stay at a farm and biological station.

  •  
    Days 9–11

    Share Time in an OSA Peninsula Community

    • Become fully immersed in the daily life of a Costa Rican community.
    • Practice your Spanish language skills
    • Participate in cultural exchange activities, such as traditional games and dance classes
    • Learn different skills from people in your host community
    • Work on a community service project such as painting at a school
  •  
    Days 12–14

    Thematic Focus

    • Travel through the stunning Central Pacific to Punta Leona, where the rainforest grows right down and meets the white sand beaches of Playa Blanca.
    • Learn about several habitats, including primary and secondary forest and mangroves, as well as beach vegetation and marine resources.
    • Zip-line among the trees in the rain forest
    • Enjoy some time to reflect and relax on the beach
    • Cruise the Central Pacific on a catamaran with your group
  •  
    Days 15

    Program Reflection and Departure at San José

    • Enjoy the ocean views and natural beauty of the bay and enjoy some last-minute shopping
    • Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program
    • During this period, you and your group will stay in centrally located hotels.
  •  
    Day 16

    Departure

    Please note: This itinerary is only a sample and is subject to change. Because of factors such as group size and availability of in-country offerings such as festivals, your experience — including sites visited and the number of days spent in each location — may differ somewhat from the one presented above.

Itinerary is subject to change.

Past Group Leaders

  • Curtis Larsen

    completing a study abroad program in Costa Rica, Curtis decided to pursue his BA in Spanish there. He obtained his degree in Spanish from the Universidad Nacional in Costa Rica, but not before discovering another of his passions: service-learning. Curtis has been privileged to work with university students from the US, Canada, and the UK all around Central America, and he co-founded a nonprofit that still provides volunteer experiences in three countries. Now back in the US, Curtis serves as the director of Academic Travel for Ed-Ventures, helping teachers take their students abroad to destinations around the world.

  • Sarita Upadhyay

    A native of upstate New York, Sarita Upadhyay graduated from Cornell University in 2011 with a BS in science of natural and environmental systems. She followed her love of the outdoors to the Amazon in Ecuador, where she coordinated a teaching program, and then to Cuzco, Peru, where she managed logistics and tours for a travel company. She worked on developing green infrastructure projects in Chicago, Illinois, at an urban sustainability-themed think tank before leading The Experiment’s 2014 Costa Rica: Biodiversity, Ecology, and Sustainability program. Currently, Sarita lives in San Francisco, where she studies psychology and works on research in health-related psychological interventions at University of California, San Francisco.

  • Jose Eduardo Huerta

    Jose Eduardo Huerta graduated from the University of California Berkeley in 2011 with a BA in Latin American studies and a minor in education. Since then, he has worked as a career track project coordinator, a substitute teacher, and a graduate research assistant. Eduardo is currently in his second year at the State University of New York Binghamton, pursuing a dual master’s degree in student affairs and public administration.

    As a return leader for The Experiment, Eduardo has led programs to Spain, Chile, and Costa Rica. He began traveling as a junior in college when he spent seven months studying in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Most recently, he spent five weeks in China, learning about economic development, sustainability, and innovation. Not only is Eduardo trilingual in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, but he also plans to learn Mandarin in the near future. Eduardo also loves practicing martial arts, being outdoors, trying new foods, meeting new people, and learning from new adventures.

  • Paula Hernandez

    Raised in northern Vermont by a Chilean mother and an American father, Paula grew up bilingual in English and Spanish. She attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where she was an American studies major with a concentration in race and ethnicity. During summers throughout college, Paula worked at Farm and Wilderness summer camp as a counselor and trip leader. After obtaining her degree, Paula moved to Valparaíso, Chile, to serve as an elementary school English teacher. Paula herself was an Experimenter in 2007, when she traveled to Turkey for five weeks. Later, in college, she spent a semester abroad in Madrid, Spain. During her time there, she walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, a pilgrimage that starts in western France and ends in the westernmost part of Spain. Aside from her love for travel, Paula loves to knit, play basketball, and learn new juggling tricks.

Student Voices

  • This was the craziest, most important, most valuable thing I think I’ve ever done in my life. I loved being an experimenter! I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity! I even feel different now. I understand the way life should be lived: simply, modestly, and to the fullest.

    JoAnna, Carrick high School
  • My trip to Costa Rica was unforgettable. During the four week program, I have tried many things in Costa Rica. Some highlights would include zip lining and kayaking for the first time. These two highlights, but there were many more.

    --Steve
  • During this month abroad, I was able to step out of my comfort zone, meet new people, experience and discover things I’d never thought of! I was able to become immersed in the Costa Rican culture and felt like I was apart of their community as well. In Costa Rica I made very strong connections and bonds with several people, not only in my group, but those who call Costa Rica their home. For example, I truly feel like my homestay family is my real family.

    --Alyssa
  • I came onto the program expecting to learn an immense amount about Costa Rica and about the Spanish language, and left the program happy I had gained so much more. For two weeks on program, there was a homestay portion with a Costa Rican family. While the concept of living with another family feels intimidating initially, I found the homestay to be the most rewarding part of the journey. My family taught me so much more than anything I could have learned without genuine immersion.

    --Theo