Life in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a tropical country comprised of the largest amount of micro-climates in the world and containing 5% of world-wide biodiversity. Living within this environment is an incomparable learning experience. There is no winter or summer as such and most regions have a rainy season from May to November and a dry season from December to April. Temperature is more a matter of elevation than location with a mean of around 72 degrees in the Central Valley, 82 degrees on the Atlantic coast and 89 degrees on the Pacific coast.
And what will you find in Costa Rica? Life, Good life, Pura Vida life. Costa Ricans (known as Ticos) are a people-oriented culture. In the words of a 2016 international student:
“Ticos are so very willing to help you no matter how simple your questions are. They always go an extra mile for you”.
What to bring and pack to come to Costa Rica?
As the weather in the country varies, we recommend you pack according to the duration of your stay and above all the season of the year in which you will travel. Take into account that the rainy season runs from May to November, and as it rains every day at any time, waterproof shoes, raincoats or ponchos and portable umbrellas are necessary. It is recommended to bring a light sweater or jacket as well. By the coast, the weather is hot, sunny and in some areas, humid; flip flops, T-Shirts and shorts are recommended.
Costa Rica is the number one choice in Latin America and is ranked #8 in the Open Door Top Ten destinations for US study abroad students (8,578 students during 2013/2014). Of these students, 62% selected short-term programs, 35% semester programs, and 3% yearlong programs. Students selected courses in Engineering, Technology, Science, Math, Health, Business, and Spanish as a Second Language.
Along with having one of the highest life expectancy rates in the hemisphere, the elderly of the Nicoya Peninsula in southern Guanacaste are among the most long-lived people in the world.
Happy Planet Index:
Costa Rica is ranked number 1 on the HPI, which measures the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them. The Index uses global data on life expectancy, experienced well-being and Ecological Footprint to calculate this. By studying abroad in Costa Rica you will experience what it is like to live in the happiest country of the world. Source http://www.happyplanetindex.org/
Due to its geographical location, Costa Rica is the meeting point of a variety of cultures and a density of plant and animal species said to be unlike any other country in the world.
The Costa Rican Social Security System offers universal public health coverage to all its citizens, making Costa Ricans the third in life expectancy rate, before Chile and Canada.
Costa Rica has a Sustainable Tourism Certification (STC) program; its goal is to classify and certify tourism companies based on how well their operations match a sustainability model.
A Country at Peace:
Costa Rica abolished its army on December 1st 1948. Since that time instead of investing in arms, the country has created both a universal health care system and an educational system that has eradicated illiteracy. The current literacy level is 96.2.
Exchange Rate/ Official Currency
In Costa Rica the official currency is the Colón. Many stores accept U.S. dollars as well in denominations of $50 or lower. Current exchange rate is 541 colones per dollar. For further information, visit the following website: http://www.bccr.fi.cr
Bank services / Credit Cards and Debit Cards:
To open up a bank account you will need:
- Current passport, with required visas, original and copy
- A certified letter from either a United States notary lawyer or certified public account specifying your source of income
- Proof of your physical address in Costa Rica
Depending on the type of account to be opened (colones or dollars, savings or checking, etc.) a minimum deposit will be required to open the account.