Study Abroad in Costa Rica

qoutesTwenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain

La Paz Community School offers a dynamic and life changing study abroad program for foreign high school students who want to spend as little as one trimester or as much as an entire year in Costa Rica studying at La Paz Community School. Spending time abroad in a bilingual, IB Accredited high school on the beaches of Costa Rica offers an opportunity for motivated and inquiring students to become bilingual, live in a new and dynamic culture, and participate in a school environment that is challenging and extremely rewarding. High school study abroad programs offer ambitious and curious students an opportunity to become global citizens as they complete their high school education. Studying abroad during high school allows students to gain meaningful life experiences that are often vital components to well-rounded college applications. If students value growth, believe in the importance of knowing and understanding the world, and wish to make the most of their everyday life and education, a high school study abroad is a perfect option.

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The La Paz study abroad program matches foreign incoming students with local families who have gone through a comprehensive vetting and approval process with the La Paz Community school administration. These families have children at La Paz, are either native Costa Ricans or have lived in Costa Rica for a number of years, and provide a stable, comfortable, and welcoming living environment for foreign students.

The La Paz Study Abroad Program…

High School: a unique and special turning point in your life. You are becoming independent, learning about life beyond parents, anticipating college or university, perhaps thinking about who you want to be as an adult. Most importantly you’re challenged intellectually and starting to question your own thought processes, conclusions, and paradigms. High School is as much about getting through senior year as it is about discovering yourself, your own interests, your passions, and testing your limits as the adventure of life starts to really kick in. Studying abroad in Costa Rica for a trimester or a year will take this adventure and exponentially intensify, expand, and develop it in every direction.The benefits of studying abroad in Costa Rica are real: the opportunity to reinvent yourself; to learn Spanish as a second language and possibly end up loving it more than your primary language; to understand new cultures and horizons; to learn to think critically and problem solve dynamically while working hand in hand with committed teachers and fellow students from around the world; to connect with the natural beauty of Costa Rica’s equatorial climate and landscape; to explore your adventurous side and learn to surf or kayak, and explore hidden pockets of what makes Costa Rica “Pura Vida”; to discover that you are capable of doing so much more than you ever thought possible.

You will learn that other cultures see the same things in different ways. You will reconsider what you thought were obvious answers to seemingly simple questions. You will make friends with people who come from over 25 different countries, live with a Costa Rican family and learn their traditions, eat their food, enjoy the surrounding outdoor activities and wildlife, and spend time with their community. You will face and overcome questions of personal and cultural identity, and recognize that only once you step out of your comfort zone and place yourself in a new culture, far away from the comfort of your familiar home and friends, will you truly begin to understand who you are and what you are capable of doing and who you are capable of becoming.

What is the value of this kind of experience as a high school student?
It’s simple: Priceless. 

So, what will you really gain from this experience? The direct and indirect benefits are plenty, but here are a few for you to consider: You will have become a more well-rounded, mature critical thinker with a broader perspective of life, even at the young age of 16, 17, or 18. You will be separated from the pack when applying to college with a semester abroad in Costa Rica, giving you credentials that will make you more appealing to colleges and universities. Your self-confidence and sense of direction will be stronger. You will have faced challenges and overcome them in unique ways, benefiting from situations that many of your peers at home will have to wait years to experience. This self-confidence will help you address issues like peer pressure, loneliness, and self-awareness. You will be equipped with tools necessary to navigate the tumultuous period of life as a teenager transitioning to a college student who will then quickly transition to life as an adult.

Now its up to you: What are you doing to seize the moment? What are you doing to become the best person possible, prepare yourself for college, your career, and your life? Come and spend some time with us and we’ll help you expand your horizons.

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What’s Included?

Tuition and Academic Credits – La Paz Community School is accredited by the Costa Rican Ministry of Education from grades prek-12 and by the International Baccalaureate for the 11th and 12th grade Diploma program.  As a result, all credits are transferrable in public and private schools both within and outside of Costa Rica.  

Supervision, guidance, and support – Study Abroad students are assigned to a host family, a student facilitator, and a faculty facilitator before they arrive in Costa Rica.  This team is carefully selected to match the incoming student’s profile as much as possible and will provide support to them throughout the year, giving new students a number of ways to find friendship and help with their immersion into life in Costa Rica.

“You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.”
DSC_0211– Geoffrey Willans

On-Site Orientation – Study Abroad students are met at Liberia International Airport by their host family and are oriented to the school, their new neighborhood, and local shops, beaches, and activities.  The student facilitator and faculty facilitator also meet with and spend time with incoming students to help them feel comfortable in their new surroundings.

Explore Costa Rica:  Attending a bilingual International Baccalaureate school on the northern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica allows for a wealth of unique cultural and ecological experiences.  To ensure that study abroad students are able to explore beyond the local communities and beaches; included in the student fees are 8 monthly trips to unique locations in and around Guanacaste and Costa Rica.  Four of these trips will be with the local host family and study abroad student while four will be with fellow study abroad and La Paz students.

Room and Board – Study Abroad students are matched with a carefully selected host family who will provide them with their own bedroom and meals for the duration of their Study Abroad visit to La Paz Community School.  These host families form an integral and vital part to the Study Abroad student’s experience at La Paz and allows the student to be fully immersed in Costa Rican culture, food, and family life.  This experience also benefits students in learning Spanish while living with a Costa Rican family.

“Coming from a public school in the United States, there are many differences here at La Paz Community School.  One of the things I love about La Paz is the personal relationship I have with the teachers.  They really get to know you and can mold their teaching plans to include lessons and different activities that will help you get where/ have the knowledge for what you want to be in life. I really love that about La Paz.

Another difference about La Paz that I really love is the hands-on experience we get here.  We aren’t stuck in the classroom with only textbooks to learn; we have the experience ourselves and learn through those means. I love that.  Along with that I love the campus.  In my old school I often didn’t see the sun for hours let alone go outside (except for maybe at lunch).  Here our hallways open up to the garden and we eat outside, it is wonderful.”
– Madi B. 10th Grade Student

School Uniforms and Hot Lunches – Hot lunches and uniforms are provided to Study Abroad students as part of their enrollment in the Study Abroad program at La Paz Community School.  

Student Handbook –  to prepare students and provide helpful tips on Studying Abroad.  Before arriving, students are sent a handbook with useful information on La Paz, the region, and living in Costa Rica.  This information helps students prepare for their adventure abroad!

24-hour emergency assistance – Students are given 24-hour access to emergency assistance in order to provide peace of mind and safety during their time in Costa Rica.  Their faculty coordinator is there to support each student throughout their stay at La Paz, and is made available by phone 24 hours a day in the event students need assistance, support, or someone to talk to.

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Study Abroad Tuition and Fees

Expected Budget for Study Abroad Program (2016 - 2017)

Category BudgetComment
Tuition$7,735.00For 2016-17 School Year
New Student Fee$3,000.00
Lunches$1,140.0038 weeks. $30 per week. Snack will be provided by host families.
School Transportation$900.00Bus From Tamarindo. Varies from $0 - $900 depending on the host house location.
Registration Fee$750.00$250 discount for early registration
School Field Trips$500.002 School Field trips
Uniform Shirts$150.005 collared shirts / 2 PE shirts ($20 per collared shirt, $15 PE shirt).
HOST FAMILY$6,000.0040 weeks ($150 per week). Each additional week is $150
Admin Fees$4,160.00
Airport Transfers$300.00
OUTING / EXPLORATION$3,600.00Includes 4 outings with study abroad students & coordinator and
4 outings with student and host family.
Transportation$200.00Guanacaste - SJO - Guanacaste.

Additional Expenses not included are:
– School Supplies
– Extra Curricular Activities
– Health Insurance (travel plan)
– Airfare
– Airport Exit Tax
– Expenses around collecting the correct documentation for the visa process
– Yearbooks and School Photos
– Personal Items
– Cell Phone and Internet

“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”
– Frank Smith

Study Abroad students can choose to study at La Paz Community School for as little as 1 Trimester, 2 Trimesters, or 1 or more years.  Trimester 1 typically begins in the first week of September; Trimester 2 begins in January, and Trimester 3 begins in April (exact dates of each trimester vary slightly from year to year).