Service-Learning in San José, Costa Rica

Costa Rica's allure can be attributed to numerous factors, including its impressive biodiversity, stunning natural beauty, environmental awareness, and great opportunities for adventure and ecotourism. Nature-lovers will find endless possibilities to explore the country’s variety of ecosystems and landscapes, from gorgeous beaches to pristine rainforests.

San José, or Chepe, as it is lovingly called by locals, is the political, economic, and cultural hub of Costa Rica. The city will serve as your home base, allowing you to experience a bustling Latin American metropolis while also having the rest of Costa Rica's wonders at your fingertips.

As one of the most advanced countries in Latin America in the areas of healthcare and education, service-learners in San José will have unique opportunities to serve alongside local professionals in health facilities, local schools, after-school programs, and more. With the possibility to add service-learning to your semester or summer study abroad program, intensive Spanish month, or complete service-learning full-time, you will be able to find the best experience to fit your unique needs in San José.

Partner Organizations

Housing Details

ISA Housing in San Jose allows students to enjoy an immersive experience living in a Costa Rican (Tico) home with a local family. With an open mind and flexibility, the experience of living in another culture will be both educational and highly rewarding.


ISA Homestays allow participants to experience aspects of Costa Rican or "Tico" lifestyle that are inaccessible to the average visitor. You have the opportunity for complete cultural immersion by staying with locals and experiencing the Costa Rican way of life. Homestays include breakfast and dinner every day and laundry service once a week. In your homestay you will have your own bedroom, although there may be another student living in the same homestay. Every family has been carefully selected by resident staff to ensure a comfortable, enjoyable and immersive living situation.

Independent Housing

You may opt to secure housing independently. If you select this option, you will receive a discount equal to the housing portion of the program price. By choosing to opt out of ISA Service-Learning housing, you are solely responsible for researching and reserving housing, and paying all fees, deposits, and rent directly to the housing facility that you choose.

Host Family Costa Rica
Host Family Meal Costa Rica
Guy on the Beach


Excursions & Cultural Activities


Optional Excursions (additional fee may apply)

For participants enrolled in full-time service-learning programs, organized ISA excursions are optional and may be available at an additional cost, depending on program dates and length. When possible, we will communicate excursion prices and dates prior to departure.
For participants enrolled in a Study + Service-Learning combo program, excursions are included in the program fee. Excursions include transportation, entrance fees, and guided tours as well as hotel accommodations and breakfast for all overnight excursions.

Cultural Activities

Cultural activities are included in all programs. The ISA resident staff develops unique cultural activities throughout your program to showcase what makes their city special. These custom-designed activities invite you to learn about the history and culture of your new surroundings. Cultural activities may include city tours, museum visits, sporting events, dance classes, cooking lessons, art and cultural festivals, and more.

Please visit the ISA website for a complete list of excursions and cultural activities in San José.

This program is unique in the sense that it has the ability to transcend cultural differences and connect with people so different from one another thanks to one common passion: serving others. If you want the opportunity to really dive into a culture and connect with people of the host community, service-learning is the best way to do it.

Julia O.
(Granada, Spring 2018)

I loved my service-learning experience abroad and would recommend it to anyone! For me, it was a great opportunity to integrate my Spanish language skills with my area of study (nursing), which is a really unique opportunity. It gave me the chance to have more purposeful interaction with the host community during my time abroad, which I think it a key aspect to the study abroad experience.

Rebekah H.
(Valparaiso, Fall 2017)

I learned so much participating in service-learning. This experience allows you to open your mind to so many different ways of life, social issues happening in other countries, and ways you can help. The skills you develop are endless because you learn to work alongside diverse groups and not only share your knowledge but also learn from them as well. This experience really helped me grow as a person.

Jordan P.
(Lima, Summer 2018)