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photography by Tyson Haynes

ELIGIBILITY     top of page

Who is eligible for admission to the programs? What is the age range of the students? Where are the students from?
Our programs are open to American and international students who have a genuine interest in foreign languages and cultures. Our students are academically motivated, and they have a broad range of interests in the arts, athletics, social activities, and more. Eligibility requirements vary depending on the program chosen.  Please refer to the Programs page for your program’s details.

How much previous language study do I need? 
Fluency in Spanish is not a requirement, although at least a minimal knowledge is helpful.  Placement tests help determine the class level appropriate for each student.  We find that students of all levels benefit tremendously from our immersion programs.

BENEFITS     top of page

What are the benefits of an exchange program?
There is no better way to learn about another country, its customs and the way of life of its people than by experiencing it firsthand through a Student Exchange Program such as Global Language Adventures.  More students every year enhance their lives by studying abroad.  They gain skills they could never have learned by staying home.  Some of the benefits include:

  • Maturity - Living in a new country and going about daily life in a new place will provide you with an educational experience that can’t be equaled.  Living in a new culture will give you increased flexibility, adaptability, and global awareness.

  • College Advantage- Competitive colleges and universities are impressed with students who have a foreign language background and experience abroad.  Your experience in Costa Rica may help you get into the university of your choice.

  • Self-confidence – Students learn to make more decisions on their own and become more confident and self-assured, displaying an openness to new people and experiences, and  heightened independence and responsibility.

  • Fluency - Spending time in a country where another language is spoken will give you fluency that you could not get in years of study.

  • Career Advantage - Your exchange experience will provide you with many benefits as you move from education to career.  Your openness, ability to deal well with different situations, and your knowledge of all kinds of people will give you an edge in any career.

  • Friendships - The exchange experience is likely to provide you with friendships that will last forever.  Whether it’s the people you meet at school, your dorm roommates, or your fellow exchange students, you’ll forge bonds that will remain strong and active far into the future.

  • PROGRAMS AND DATES     top of page

    What are the program dates?
    For specific dates and itineraries, please refer to the program descriptions on Programs page.

    How do I know which program to choose? 
    The program you choose should depend on your goals and your own comfort level in living in a different culture.  The Summer Program is ideal for students who do not want to miss high school in their home country, or who are reluctant to be away from home for an extended period of time.  For those students who are looking for a more in-depth adventure and a more advanced level of language learning, either the Semester or Academic Year Programs would be the best option. 

    ACADEMICS     top of page

    Who will be teaching the language classes? Is there a required proficiency level?

    The language classes are taught by native-language speaking teachers.  Our teachers have many years of experience in teaching foreign languages and other subjects to high school students. There is no required proficiency level — we accommodate all levels, from beginners to advanced.

    For more specific information on each program please refer to the Programs page of this web site.

    Will my language proficiency improve?
    That is up to you.  The more time you spend speaking Spanish with your teachers and the friends you make, the more your Spanish will improve.  Our immersion programs provide the perfect opportunity to greatly improve your proficiency, but the crucial factor for your success in studying a foreign language is your own motivation and dedication. According to our students, they make significant progress in their knowledge of Spanish. Furthermore, many of the most motivated students "skip" a level or sometimes even more in their language course after returning home.

    How will my class placement be determined?
    Based on the results of your placement test that you will take on the first day of class.

    What about other subjects?
    Semester and Academic Year students attend classes in English, U.S. History, and Bible.  These classes are taught in English and students may receive credit for them.  For students whose home country is not the U.S. , you will be offered an alternative class to U.S. History if you wish.  You will also attend some classes such as biology and P.E. with Costa Rican students.  While you will not be able to receive credit for these classes, they provide you with an excellent opportunity to be immersed in the language and to practice using the language skills you are acquiring.   Please refer to the Programs page of the program you are interested in for a description of that program's curriculum.

    What is the size of a typical class? Who are the students?
    Typically, 8-10 students in a group for a language course, but sometimes there are as few as 3 or 4. The size of the classes is kept under 12 to allow for better interaction and greater effectiveness of learning.  We want you to have the best experience possible.

    For non-language courses the number of students vary.

    Are the classes mandatory? What is the typical workload?
    Yes, they are. Students are expected to be present and on-time for every class, every day.

    The typical workload (for language classes) is 3-4 hours a day, five days a week. The workload for other academic courses varies.

    Is there homework? Are there tests and grades?

    The amount of homework varies by program. For most language courses, there is some homework. You will be taking frequent tests and receiving grades.

    Will the credits I earn transfer to my high school?
    You need to check with your school in your home country to make sure that they will accept the credits you earn with the Global Language Adventures program. The amount of credit varies depending on the policies of the "recipient" school, and it is based on the number of hours of instruction.  Global Language Adventures will send a transcript to the high school of your choice.

    How many credits will I earn?
    For the Summer Program you can earn up to one (1) year of Spanish credit.  For Semester and Academic Year Programs you can earn up to two (2) years of Spanish credit and one semester of Bible, English, and U.S. History credit for each semester you attend.  The acceptance of credit is at the discretion of your high school in your home country.  Global Language Adventures cannot guarantee that all credit hours will be accepted at all high schools. 

    It is the teaching method different that in my country?
    The  teaching method in Costa Rica may be a bit different from what you are used to. This is a part of the experience of being an exchange student.  In each country the educational system has its own characteristics. 

    Are the classes difficult?
    You may experience culture shock on the first day of class and think “This is impossible!”  Don’t panic!  After two or three days you will feel much more comfortable.  If you attend class, are attentive and participate, you will discover that the classes may be challenging, but not too difficult for your level.  If you run into problems extra help is available.

    Do I have more help in the event that I am having problems understanding?
    In addition to the help provided by the teachers in the school, the student will have a lot of support from roommates and friends who will help her/him to progress with their language skills through every day coexistence.  The on-site director is also available to provide assistance to students.  She can help students to find tutors.

    Where and with whom will my classes be held?
    Students attend all language classes in Central American Adventist University ’s Center for Language Learning.  The University has dedicated this center to the teaching of language and culture to foreign students, and to their integration into Costa Rican society.  Small groups are the norm and all of the professors are native Spanish speakers.  You will be grouped by age and language ability level. 

    What is the language of instruction?
    All language classes are taught in Spanish by native speakers employed by Central American Adventist University’s Center for Language Learning.

    Do I have to wear a school uniform?            See Uniform
    (pdf 27kb)
    Yes.  All schools in Costa Rica require school uniforms and it is part of the culture.  You will be sent information about what pieces of the uniform you will need to bring with you.  Most of it you will be able to purchase once you arrive on campus.  You will not be able to attend class unless you are wearing your entire uniform.

    What if I want to take music lessons?
    The University church (where you will be attending) has a small orchestra and a choir that you are welcome to join.  Instrument and voice lessons are available for an additional fee.  If you play and instrument and would like to continue while you are in Costa Rica be sure to bring it with you.  Remember to make sure your parents’ homeowner insurance policy will cover you in the event of loss or damage to your instrument.

    MONEY MATTERS     top of page

    What does it cost?
    The costs vary according to the program you choose to participate in.  Please see the Programs page for specific cost information for the program of your choice.

    What is included in the program cost?
    The cost covers everything except international airfare, school uniforms, personal expenses, such as shopping, eating out by choice, laundry, internet and phone calls, taking taxis, or certain optional activities going beyond the planned program. Specifically, the fees include:

    Tuition, transcript, and academic credit (varies by program)
    Individual tutoring
    Room and board (residence housing; all meals included)
    Airport Transfers
    All pre-planned group excursions and activities, including tickets, passes, meals, transportation and lodging
    Accident and medical insurance for the full period of the program
    Course materials and books
    On-site staff
    Periodic progress reports
    Student Handbook and other materials
    Transcript and School-Credits counseling

    Do you offer any scholarships, financial aid or special discounts?
    We understand that academic programs such as ours are an important, and considerable, investment. At this time, we do not offer any scholarships or financial aid as we are a small organization. However, we encourage students to research private scholarship directories (e.g. and to contact local community organizations that could possibly sponsor a portion of the program.

    Do I have to submit a deposit with the application?
    Yes, in order to apply, please submit a $300 application deposit with your application. For a student who is not accepted, the application deposit is refundable except for a $100 processing fee.

    Do I have to pay the entire fee at once? Is there a payment plan option?
    Our program is unique in that it does allow participants the option of a payment plan for Semester and Academic Year Programs.  Please refer to the Programs page for more information about the program of your choice.
    What if I decide to withdraw from the program? Is the fee refundable?
    If a student withdraws from a Summer program for any reason after being accepted, but on or before the final payment due date, all but $100 is refundable.  If a student withdraws after the final payment due date, but prior to the actual starting date of the program, GLA will refund all but $300.  If a student withdraws after the start of the GLA Summer program, no refund will be given.

    If a student withdraws from a Semester or Academic Year Program for any reason prior to departure, a refund will be calculated by the following schedule:

    More than 60 days before the program start date, all but $100 is refundable.  30-60 days before the program start date, all but $200 is refundable.  Less than 30 days before the program start date, all but $300 is refundable. Students who choose to leave the program after arrival in Costa Rica will forfeit all funds paid. 

    Withdrawal from a program is effective on the date that written notification is received by Global Language Adventures.

    The cancellation and refund policy is in effect from the initial receipt of a student's application and deposit, even before he or she is formally accepted and enrolled.

    If a student is asked to leave the program for a violation of program rules, he or she is not eligible for any refunds and parents are responsible for the cost of dismissed students' travel home.

    What payment methods are acceptable?
    Our fees are in U.S. Dollars and must be paid in U.S. Dollars. We accept the following forms of payment: Check - Personal or cashier's check drawn from a U.S. bank.  Make check payable to Global Language Adventures and mail to 27001 S.E. Kelso Road , Boring , OR   97009

    How much personal spending money will I need?

    Each traveler’s personal expenses vary.  If you plan to purchase many souvenirs, enjoy shopping, or use the internet a great deal, plan accordingly. Former GLA students have found that they spend an average of $100 per month.   It is not advisable to keep large sums of cash on hand.  Here are some methods students can explore for having the additional funds they need:

  • Take Traveler’s checks in $20, $50 and/or $100 denominations.  Traveler’s checks can be cashed at most banks in Costa Rica and are accepted by some businesses.  Personal checks and money orders are not accepted.  Traveler’s checks and other valuables can be stored with the GLA on-site Director until needed.  There is usually a charge to buy and cash Traveler’s checks.

  • Bring an ATM card.  If you have a bank account in the U.S. with a debit card which supports the PLUS system, you can access your cash from the Bank of Costa Rica in Alajuela.  Be aware that most U.S. banks will charge a 2% fee for this service.  Withdrawals are given in the local currency.

  • Have your parents use Western Union to wire you the money.  This is convenient, but can be expensive because they will charge a fee for making a money transfer.

  • TRAVEL DETAILS     top of page

    Do I have to have a passport? 
    Yes.  If you are traveling abroad it is essential that you have a valid passport in your name (not a family passport).  GLA strongly encourages you to apply for a passport as soon as you sign up.

    How do I get a passport? 
    You can download passport applications from the web at  Applications are also available in most post offices, but not all of them provide processing services, so call ahead for verification.  To process the application you will need to personally submit a certified copy of your birth certificate, two passport photos, and the required fee (check for current prices) to the passport officer at your central post office.  Allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.  You may also personally process the paperwork at the U.S. Passport Agency nearest you.

    Do I need a travel visa? 
    Yes, but you will not need to obtain your visa before entering Costa Rica .  You will obtain your visa at the airport upon your arrival.  Because your stay is limited, you will enter the country as a tourist.  After you have been in Costa Rica for 3 months you will be required to leave the country for 72 hours and then re-enter to obtain a new visa.  The on-site director will arrange a weekend trip to a neighboring country for the group for this purpose.  If you are a student in the Summer program your visa will be valid for your entire stay.

    Do you recommend that I purchase an International Student I.D. card?
    If you purchase your airline ticket through a travel agency which specializes in student travel, STA for example,  you will be required by them to buy an International Student I.D. card.  These cards provide some benefits such as a limited amount of travel insurance, however there is no requirement that you have an International Student I.D. card to participate in a GLA program.

    When should I plan to arrive?  Depart?
    Students are expected to arrive on campus on or before the listed arrival date in order to participate in placement testing and orientation sessions.  GLA requests that students not arrive or depart during Sabbath hours.  GLA will meet students at the airport upon arrival and departing students are escorted to airline check-in.  Students need to inform GLA of their arrival and departure times by e-mailing their travel itineraries to  Students arriving more than two days early or leaving more than two days past the departure date listed will need to pay an additional fee each day for room and board.

    Where should I make my travel arrangements?
    The student and his/her parent or legal guardian are responsible for making their own arrangements for travel to/from Costa Rica .  One good source of information is STA Travel, a travel service for students.  You can find out more information about STA at their website: You are advised to shop around using STA Travel prices as a basis for comparison. 

    May I travel on my own to see sights or visit friends?

    Yes, you may travel beyond the host town and visit friends or relatives; provided that you respect the safety rules and that you have a written authorization from your parents and permission from the on-site GLA director.

    Can I go home for a visit during the program?
    Students may not return home “for a visit” while a participant in Global Language Adventures, except in cases of a family emergency.

    How much luggage can I take?  The airline you choose will have a limit on the number and weight of the bags you can check, and a limit on the number of carry-on bags.  Be sure to check with the airline to determine those limits.  Our suggestion is to pack light!  You will be handling your own bag.  Remember to leave space for your souvenir purchases.

    What should I pack?
    Please refer to What to Take on the Practical Matters Page for more details about packing.

    ACTIVITIES     top of page
    What will a typical day be like?
    Daily schedules vary between programs, please refer to the program descriptions on "Programs" page.

     Will I have free time? Can I spend time in smaller groups?

    In addition to planned activities with the GLA group, students will have plenty of free time to pursue personal interests, spend time with friends and explore the host community. We strive to maintain a balance between structured activities and free time. While we give our students this privilege, we expect them to adhere to the program rules and safety guidelines, and generally to uphold GLA standards of responsibility, maturity, and respect.

    What are excursions like?
    You will have the opportunity to enjoy day trips and overnight excursions.  These excursions are designed to expand interest in the language and culture of Costa Rica .  In addition to accomplishing educational objectives, you will have a chance to enjoy sightseeing, nature hikes, visits to jungles, hot springs , volcanoes, wildlife preserves, and the rainforest canopy.  Several of these excursions are included in the cost of each Program. 

    Students will be given the option to participate in several extra excursions/activities.  Because they are optional, the cost for these extra excursions/activities is not included in the regular program cost.  The student will need to pay for these out of his/her own personal spending money if he/she chooses to participate.  Costs range anywhere from a few dollars up to $30 for local activities and as much as $300 for the week-long trip to the Panama Canal . Once you are accepted as a GLA student, you will be sent information about the optional activities and the approximate costs to participate. 

    What about the weekends?
    Weekend activities include participation in worship services on Friday night and during Sabbath, and free time, community service activities, or excursions on Sundays.

    HOUSING     top of page


    What are the dorms like?
    Dorm rooms are average size, but closet space is usually limited.  Bunks beds are provided and students need to bring bedding with them.  Bathrooms in the girls’ dorm have individual toilet and shower stalls.  Rooms in the boys’ dorm each have their own bathroom.  Refreshingly cool showers are the norm.  The photo is of a typical boys dorm room.

    How are roommates chosen?
    Each dormitory dean makes room assignments after consultation with the GLA On-Site Director.   All GLA participants will be assigned with a Spanish-speaking roommate or roommates.  Usually there are 3-4 students per dorm room.

    Is there a curfew?
    The curfew time may vary by the day of the week. A typical curfew is 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends. Please be advised that GLA reserves the right to change the curfew times at its discretion as deemed necessary for safety and organizational purposes.

    During the evenings prior to the curfew, the students will either attend program activities, or be on "free time." In the latter case, they must be in groups of at least three, strictly abide by program safety rules, and keep the staff informed of their whereabouts.

    Where will I do laundry? 
    Most Costa Ricans do laundry by hand and you can do the same in the laundry sinks available in each dorm.  There is a laundry service available at the school.  It costs approximately $3 per load to wash and dry.  The expense for this service is not covered by your GLA tuition and fees unless you are a Summer Program student.

    SAFETY     top of page         See Safety Rules and Guidelines  (pdf 20kb)

    How safe are the programs?
    Global Language Adventures has developed a very clear set of Safety Rules and Guidelines that will be strictly enforced. Abiding by these rules and guidelines will greatly enhance your safety and protect you from many dangers. A detailed description of the Program Safety Rules and Guidelines is provided to students during orientation.

    Our staff will provide supervision during most activities and be available to assist you at any time, day or night:  24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The staff will always come to your aid in any difficult situation and help resolve any problems you might have.

    But all of the above will not matter if we do not have your support in ensuring your own safety. The staff will not be able to supervise you around-the-clock, and it will ultimately be up to you to respect the rules and exercise caution and good judgment in order to stay out of trouble.

    What happens if I break the safety rules?
    It means that you have put yourself in a dangerous situation in which we can no longer ensure your safety, and therefore it is our duty to send you home.

    What if there is a natural disaster or there is a crisis situation while I’m in Costa Rica ?
    At all times, GLA on-site staff are in close contact with the Embassy of your home country located in Costa Rica .  GLA closely follows the guidelines of the U.S. Department of State.  If at any time the Embassy for the home country of any GLA students was to recall all its citizens from Costa Rica , GLA would certainly support students throughout the process of returning back to their home country.  In this event, GLA would refund any money that might be recoverable at that time.

    HEALTH ISSUES     top of page

    Should I get vaccinations before I go?

    To make a well-informed decision, we recommend that you consult the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. You can call the CDC hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); send a fax to 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or view CDC's Internet home page at

    What if I have a medical problem while on the trip?
    Our staff will immediately arrange for a doctor's visit, take you to a hospital, help you fill your prescription and otherwise assist you in accessing qualified medical help. Your medical expenses will be reimbursed upon your return home by the insurance provider. We will supply you with detailed information about the insurance policy issued by the Program, the claim procedure and other details. We encourage you to carefully review this information and purchase additional insurance if you deem necessary.

    What if I am regularly taking medication or have other medical needs?
    Be sure to bring an adequate supply of the medication with you, along with a copy of the original prescription and your doctor's contact information. It is also essential that you accurately fill out the medical form and otherwise keep our staff well-informed about your needs to help us better provide for your health and safety.

    Is the drinking water safe?
    In most areas of Costa Rica the tap water is safe to drink.  However, bottled water is readily available should you want to purchase it. 

    What if I get homesick?

    Whenever someone studies abroad, they experience some cultural adjustment.  This cultural adjustment can be a little more difficult for less experienced travelers.  Usually cultural shock/homesickness occurs within the first few weeks and disappears as you become used to the differences you are experiencing.  We will talk about this topic during on-site orientation and the On-site Director is available to assist students in feeling comfortable in their new culture.

    INSURANCE     top of page

    Will I receive insurance coverage from the Program? What does it cover?
    You will receive medical and accident insurance from the Program at no additional cost. You will be informed in detail about the conditions of coverage once your application is accepted (or feel free to ask us for more information at any time).

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    Will I have access to the internet?
    You will need to go to the internet café on campus or one in nearby Alajuela to access your e-mail.  The cost is about 80 cents U.S. an hour in the Alajuela area, in other areas it can be as expensive as $3 for 10 minutes.  Expect service to be somewhat slow.  Students have found it helpful to use an instant messaging program such as Windows Messenger to communicate regularly with their family and friends.

    Is it advisable to bring a laptop? 
    GLA alumni who have done this have overwhelmingly stated that having their laptop became more trouble than it was worth.  It is possible to connect your laptop to the internet in the library, however, once everyone sees that you have a laptop you will constantly be bombarded with requests to borrow it.  Most students have found that using the internet café on campus is adequate to meet their needs.

    How can I call home?
    International phone calls are difficult to make and very expensive in Costa Rica .  Students have found it much easier and less expensive to communicate by e-mail and instant messenger.  If parents or friends call they should be aware that it is unlikely that the person who answers the phone will speak English and it may be difficult to locate a student on campus.  It is best to arrange ahead of time when they will call so you can be by the phone. 

    Although you can use MCI, Sprint, or AT&T calling cards from Costa Rica , be aware that you need to have international access numbers and rates can be more than $1 a minute.  You can also buy a Costa Rican phone card to make international cards.  The cost is approximately 55 cents a minute.  The following websites contain information on inexpensive international rates calling from the U.S. to Costa Rica .  Prices can be as low as 6 cents a minute.  Rates for calls to and from other countries will vary.

    Big Zoo International Rates

    One Suite International rates (best rate)
    Union Telecard (SuperClean card)

    Can my parents send me a package?
    Students can receive mail at the university at the following address:
    Student Name
    Apartado 138
    Alajuela 4050
    Be aware that packages are often stopped in customs which means students have to travel approximately an hour and a half to the other side of San Jose to pick up their package.  They must pay the cost of the trip and are often charged customs fees as well.

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