Costa Rica: warm and welcoming—an ideal destination for learning and service.
In all of our travels, we’ve rarely seen a country and a culture as welcoming as Costa Rica. As a result, we’ll find that learning Spanish in Costa Rica is made all the more enjoyable. It’s still hard work—that’s to be expected—but the people and setting in Costa Rica make it fun, and, in some important ways, because it’s fun, it’s just a bit easier.
We’ll work with native-speaker instructors every weekday. This is the key: in small, private classes, we’ll engage with native speakers who are professional instructors using a proven curriculum.
Outside of class our learning continues. We’ll have opportunities for Spanish conversation through our group’s service work and daily interactions with Costa Ricans. Using our Spanish in these settings is conversational—there’s no pressure, just opportunities to practice, to improve.
The service projects are varied, and the weekends are for exploration. There’s trail work and wildlife conservation in the lush rainforests of a nature reserve and along the Pacific coast. We’ll also connect with the community while working with children in local schools. On the weekends, we’ll raft the Savegre River, explore the beautiful Marino Ballena National Park on the Pacific coast and visit an indigenous community.
We’ll do all of this in a supportive, wholesome Overland group. You’ll find fun and friendship with your trip mates, and a warm welcome from your Overland leaders—just like the Costa Ricans, they’ll make you feel right at home from the start.
I really liked getting to know the Spanish teachers and speaking Spanish with them.
- Aidan Koch, River Forest, Illinois
Day 1: Trip Start
We will meet in San José and then head immediately to the charming city of San Isidro de El General, where we’ll spend the day reviewing our itinerary goals and getting to know one another.
Days 2-6: Serve at a Nature Reserve and Begin Language Class
Every morning this week, we’ll work near San Isidro de El General at a nature reserve established to protect the ecosystem and watershed of San Isidro. On the reserve, we might do trail work, light construction work, general maintenance or painting. We’ll also hike on these very same trails, surveying our work, enjoying views of the beautiful San Isidro valley and catching glimpses of Mount Chirripó (12,533 feet), Costa Rica’s highest peak. We’ll take a brief placement exam, meet our language teachers and attend afternoon Spanish classes.
Days 7 & 8: Raft the Savegre River and Explore Manuel Antonio National Park
On the weekend, we’ll spend one day rafting the Savegre River with professional guides. We’ll wind through the Costa Rican rainforest on exciting rapids, keeping our eyes open for wildlife. The next day, we’ll explore and relax on the beach at Manuel Antonio National Park.
Days 9-13: Continue to Serve, Learn and Visit an Indigenous Reserve
After rafting and exploring the beach, we will return to San Isidro to volunteer with community members and a local school. Our projects might include mural painting, light construction or reforestation work. In the afternoons, we will continue to improve our language skills through classes that consist of cooking, dancing and a visit to the local farmers market. We’ll finish week two of classes with a visit to an indigenous reserve.
Days 14 & 15: Explore the Pacific Coast
On the weekend, we’ll travel to the unforgettable shores of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. Based near Marino Ballena National Park, we’ll hike, explore the beaches and swim along the coast. We may even see families of monkeys, whales and other wildlife.
Days 16-19: Work at a Local School and Visit Natural Hot Springs
During our final week, we will return to our home base in San Isidro to continue to serve and learn in the community. We’ll work with the students and teachers at another nearby school and resume afternoon Spanish classes. We’ll also make time for a visit to the area’s natural hot springs. Before leaving San Isidro, we will celebrate three weeks of Spanish improvement with our teachers.
Day 20: Trip End, San José
After returning to San José, we will eat dinner in the city and celebrate three weeks of Spanish language skills, communities served, cultural understanding and new friends.
15 nights in private group accommodations with bathrooms and showers.
4 nights in hostel in private group rooms with bathrooms and showers.
Itinerary may vary by group and is subject to change.
Improve your Spanish while volunteering and exploring Costa Rica.
Students going on Language & Service Costa Rica should prepare for:
- Full days of outdoor activities led by two caring Overland leaders
- Day hikes to viewpoints and mountaintops
- 10 days of volunteer service for an average of 4 hours each day
- 14 days of Spanish class for 4 hours each day
- A fun, supportive and wholesome Overland experience
We expect you to arrive to your trip fully prepared for all activities.
Preparing for Service
Trips involving service work require a positive attitude and willingness to work hard as a volunteer. You should arrive eager to participate in a variety of service projects. You and your group might mentor elementary school students, work on a light construction project or volunteer at a nature preserve. The projects your group work on will depend upon the availability of service opportunities and the needs of local communities. As the summer nears, stay active through sports and exercise. Once your program starts, commit yourself wholeheartedly to your group and all activities.
Preparing for Class
Overland's language programs require dedication to learning a language and enthusiasm about experiencing a new culture. Your classes will be conducted exclusively in Spanish and you will speak Spanish outside of class for approximately two hours per day. Your group will be divided into smaller language classes upon arrival; the classes will focus on speaking and listening comprehension in order to accommodate a range of skill levels. We require you to arrive with at least one year of classroom instruction, or the equivalent experience (time spent studying abroad, for example), in Spanish.
Preparing for an Overland Experience
Overland trips are wholesome, structured experiences with high expectations of each student’s behavior. You are expected to be enthusiastic, positive, helpful and supportive of your trip mates and your leaders. We ask that you leave your cell phone and electronics at home (cameras are always welcome), so you can fully engage with your group and your trip. Arriving ready for a challenge—and prepared to contribute to an enthusiastic group—will go a long way toward creating a successful trip. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss preparing for your Overland trip!