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Living in Costa Rica


Daily classes take place at ICADS’ headquarters, located in Curridabat, a neighborhood on the edge of the capital, San Jose, and near the university area of San Pedro. There are a variety of shops, restaurants and services nearby.

San Jose itself is only a 10-minute bus ride away, and is a bustling cosmopolitan city filled with cultural events, an exciting nightlife, and plenty of historical landmarks and museums to explore.

Costa Rica is a beautiful country blessed with countless natural wonders, a tropical array of flora and fauna, and gracious and warm people to meet along the way. Any location in Costa Rica is easily accessible by bus from San Jose. Many students choose to explore what the country has to offer during their free weekends.



All students in our semester programs spend one week in Nicaragua or Panama, comparing and contrasting their experiences in Costa Rica and hearing different Latin American perspectives on justice and sustainable development.


Upon arrival, students are placed with Costa Rican families. As an integral part of the program, this home-stay experience facilitates language learning and active participation in the culture and society of Costa Rica.

ICADS host families have many years of experience hosting students, and they are ready to adopt you into Tico life! By being open to them and life at your Tica home, you will gain immeasurable insight into the Costa Rican reality.

Our host families provide private rooms, breakfast, dinner, and laundry service. Family placements are supervised by a housing coordinator who makes every effort to match the needs of each student with the reality of the host family.

Students will be advised of their Tica family placement within 2 weeks of the program start date, pending receipt of the deposit and family preferences document. ICADS recommends the homestay experience, however, for non-credit program participants, ICADS will assist in making alternative housing arrangements at local hotels, hostels, and/or apartments (prices vary).


Students are always placed in host families within a ten-minute bus ride or a thirty-minute walk to ICADS. Someone from the student’s host family will accompany the student to and from ICADS on the first day of classes to show each student the route. Each student is provided with a map that clearly indicates the location of his/her home as well as the location of the houses of all other students in his/her cluster. The fact that students are placed in close proximity to one another increases safety by allowing them to walk together and to share the required taxi ride when returning home at night, which is quite inexpensive when they can share the fare.

Each student lives with a local host family who not only feeds and supports the student, but also helps to monitor her/his whereabouts at all times. If a student does not return home on schedule for any reason, we are immediately notified. Families also help us monitor the state of the physical health and emotional well being of each student. Families also help us monitor each student’s physical health and emotional well-being.

We work hard to place students with families who represent the typical Costa Rican home to greater enhance students’ cultural experience, while prioritizing safety. We feel that it is absolutely essential that our students always feel safe and comfortable within their homes.

“I would definitely recommend the host family experience to other students. I think that a student should leave their options open because if I had requested a family with dogs or kids I would have missed out on this experience. I truly felt like I connected with the entire family. And I feel very privileged to have met them.”


 Daniel Pinto, Assistant Director of the International Programs Office, Rice University