The Costa Rica Center is located in Heredia City, a block and a half away from the Central Park. In the fall semester, first year students will take a group flight from New York with the Director of the Costa Rica Center after their orientation and arrive in San José together. They will then be picked up at the airport and driven to the hotel where we will be staying during the first orientation days before students move in with their local host families.
HOW TO REACH THE CENTER
Students not arriving with the Foundation Year group need to take a taxi at the airport in order to get to the Costa Rica Center on their own. Airport taxis are very safe and inexpensive. You will recognize the official airport taxi drivers by their brown pants and white shirt uniform. Ask the driver to take you to the city of Heredia to the following address: "By taxi: De Trigo Miel (por la Cruz Roja) 200 metros oeste, y 125 metros sur, mano derecha, casa de madera color crema. By foot: Del Correo de Heredia, 100 metros al oeste, 75 metros al norte, casa de madera color crema a mano izquierda. From the Heredia Post Office, 100 meters west and 75 meters north, cream-colored house with wooden exterior on the left-hand side." Our telephone number at the Center is: 011-506-2260-6672. You should contact the center once you have made your travel plans to inform us of when you will be arriving.
The Center's facilities include an administrative area, computer room, a small library, a garden, a large backyard, a hall for Community Meetings, and rooms for seminars, Spanish classes, and academic advising.
The Costa Rica Center has eight IBM-compatible computers as well as one MAC for student use, and two printers connected to all of them. Students can access the Internet from any of those computers or from their laptop through our wireless network. Students also have access to a multimedia projector.
WHAT TO BRING WITH YOU
*Please note that a majority of the things included in this packing list can be found in Costa Rica, so if you do not have enough space in your bags or you forget something, you can wait and purchase it there once you arrive.
____Plenty of short-sleeved t-shirts
____Several long-sleeved shirts
____Long pants/jeans for the city
____A few sweatshirts, jackets, hoodies or cardigans for chilly nights
____Shorts and Tank-tops for the beach
____Lots of socks and underwear (long socks for rubber boots)
____A nice outfit (dress or button up shirt) for cultural activities
____2 Bathing suits
____Comfortable walking shoes, such as strap-on "Teva" style sandals or Hi-Tec hiking boots (more ideal for walks in muddy or wet areas)
____Flip-flops to wear within the house (Ticos don't go barefoot!)
____Rain jacket or poncho
____Hat to shield against tropical sun
____Digital camera and memory card
____Video camera if your photo camera does not provide an option for video
____Cell phone with SIM card (Optional). In order for your U.S. cell phone to work in Costa Rica, it must be a GSM phone that is UNLOCKED and works on a 1800Mhz band. To find out your band, check your cell phone’s user guide or do an online search by entering the model of your phone. If your cell phone does not meet those specifications, you can find very cheap ones in Costa Rica. In Costa Rica you can purchase pre-paid SIM cards to use with your cell phone.
____Mini alarm clock if you prefer not to use your cell phone's alarm clock
____USB Flash drive
____Digital tape recorder (this will come in handy especially in the spring semester when conducting your two week independent study projects! In Costa Rica tape recorders cost anywhere from $80 to $100)
____Mac or PC Laptop
____A valid passport
____Photocopies of all important documents (passport, health insurance, credit cards, etc)
Medication and Toiletries
____Soap, shampoo, and face wash if you are very particular about brands. Otherwise, you can purchase them in Costa Rica.
____Copy of medical history sheet if you suffer from a particular illness or health condition
____Girls: makeup and feminine products (they are more expensive here than in the States, and supermarkets don’t carry all brands. If you like very specific brands, bring a good supply with you)
____Small plastic bottles that won’t leak for your shampoo, shower gel, and any other toiletries you will take with you on field trips
Personal First Aid Kit (required but you can choose to bring them with you or purchase them in Costa Rica)
-Band aids in multiple sizes
-Antiseptic (Iodine works well)
-Medicine to treat a mild cold, such as a decongestant, alone or in combination with antihistamine
-Pain or fever reducer (one or more of the following): Acetaminophen, Aspirin, Ibuprofen
-Immodium AD or similar to treat diarrhea
-Antifungal and antibacterial ointments or creams
-1% hydrocortisone cream
-Dramamine or similar, if you get motion sickness
-Good sun-block (at least SPF15 with PABA, although we recommend SPF 40- the sun is very intense in Costa Rica, even when you don't see it). Sun-block is very expensive here so we recommend that you bring a good supply
-Any medications, prescription or over the counter, taken on a regular basis at home. It is highly recommended that you bring them in your carry-on luggage, labeled appropriately, and with the doctor’s prescription. Sending medication by mail is highly discouraged due to possible confiscations by the Ministry of Health.
-Battery operated radio (in case of emergency while at remote locations)
____Costa Rica or Central America Guidebook (i.e. Lonely Planet), though the center has many
____A major credit card, for use in case of medical emergencies (you will have health insurance, but you must pay out of pocket for all services and then file a claim for reimbursement)
____Money belt or pouch
____Photographs of your family to share with your host family
____Gift for host family representative of your home (book of photos from home city/region, souvenirs from where you live, etc)
____Day pack to carry books to and from school
____Smaller backpack for short field trips
____Emergency contact information
____Your favorite snacks
____ A good book or two to read and leave behind
The currency in Costa Rica is called the colón. The Banco Central de Costa Rica updates the current exchange rate daily on this webpage: http://indicadoreseconomicos.bccr.fi.cr/indicadoreseconomicos/Cuadros/frmVerCatCuadro.aspx?CodCuadro=400.
The current exchange rate is approximately 1 US dollar to 540 colones (May 2014).
Changing dollars (cash or traveler's checks) to colones is not difficult in Costa Rica, and can be done at most major banks. Please do not bring ripped bills. If, for some reason, you want to cash a traveler’s check and receive dollars, you need to visit a local bank and have them cashed into dollars. There is always a commission charged by the bank.
Cash advances: You can withdraw money (in colones) from local ATM’s with any major credit or debit cards. Don’t forget to get a password from your bank before coming to Costa Rica, so that you can withdraw money with your credit card or debit card.
If you need to have money sent you can easily access a local Western Union Office.
Your mailing address while you are in Costa Rica will be:
LIU Global – COS
Heredia, Costa Rica
Letters from Costa Rica to the United States usually take from one to two weeks to arrive.
Letters from the U.S. to Costa Rica usually take between eight days and two weeks.
Urgent mail and packages via Courier (DHL/UPS/Federal Express) should be sent to the following physical address:
De Trigo Miel (por la Cruz Roja), 200 metros oeste, y 125 metros sur, mano derecha, casa de
Madera color crema
Heredia, Costa Rica
Telephone number: 011-506-2-260-6672 or 2-260 - 1468.
(Please specify the phone number as well)
By taxi: De TrigoMiel (por la Cruz Roja), 200 metros oeste, y 125 metros sur, mano derecha,
casa de madera color crema.(By foot: Del Correo de Heredia, 100 metros al oeste, 75 metros al norte, casa de madera color crema a mano izquierda. From the Heredia Post Office, 100 meters west and 75 meters north, cream-colored house with wooden exterior on the left-hand side)
By taxi: (By foot: From the Heredia Post Office, 100 meters west and 75 meters north, cream-colored house with wooden exterior on the left-hand side)
Heredia, Costa Rica
Telephone number: 011-506-2-260-6672 or 2-260 - 1468.
We do not recommend sending large packages to students due to the potentially high duty and administrative costs as well as the bureaucracy involved in getting packages that get stopped in customs. Packages that have been sent third class take an exceedingly long time to arrive. First class packages can normally arrive in a shorter time, anywhere from 2-4 weeks. In any case, the recipient has to go to a branch post office twice to complete the paperwork necessary to claim any large package. Duty is charged on everything, including clothing (new or used) and gifts, and it can be more than 100% of the original cost of the item. The cost is often evaluated based on what the price is in Costa Rica, rather than what was paid for it. (Books are sometimes an exception.) Because of this, we recommend to students that they tell their families and friends not to send them packages.
Packages small enough to fit in a post office box (cassettes, manila envelopes, photos, etc.) can be claimed at the main post office and usually there is no duty charged on them.
For Federal express mail, include our telephone. (011-506-2260-6672)
To order books through the internet we do it through an express mail in Florida who sends it to Costa Rica and brings it to the COS. The mailing company charges according to the weight (a slip is included in your packet), so you must add the cost to your order.
The shipping address is the following:
7805 NW 15 St. Suite 506-138
Miami, Florida 33126-1109
You can reach our Center by calling our Vonage (US) numbers, as follows:
718-554-0396 or 718-233-1159.
If calling international the number must be preceded by the code: 011. Our telephone number is (506) 2260-6672 and the fax number is (506) 2260-9656. There is usually someone at the center from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Costa Rica time. It is not hard to make international phone calls, and the cost is about the same as in the U.S.
5. ELECTRICAL REQUIREMENTS
Your electrical devices will work exactly the same way they do as in the United States. You do not need to bring any kind of adaptors. We do strongly recommend bringing a protector for electrical fluctuations for your laptop.
6. EMAIL AND INTERNET
E-mail and access to internet is available at the Costa Rica Center for all students, either through our computers or through your laptop. Through our cable network, students can connect their laptops to the wireless system.
You will need your passport to enter Costa Rica and to travel to other Latin American countries. Make sure your passport is valid for at least one year, that it is in good shape, and that it has at least 10 empty pages. When you enter the country make sure that it gets stamped at the airport.
You will need to apply for an extended stay visa when you arrive in Costa Rica. The staff will help you with this process, but you must bring the documents required for the visa application with you to Costa Rica. For more information, refer to the Costa Rica Travel & Visa Information document listed here: http://www.liu.edu/Global/StudentLife/Reg-Info/Visa.
Costa Rican laws prohibit foreigners from working in the country without special permission. In order to work here, foreigners need to get a green card and, just as in the United States, the procedure to get it is very long (several years.) Even then, it is only issued in very special cases, for example if there are few professionals in a given area in Costa Rica.
You will receive a bill from Long Island University for tuition, center fees and room and board. LIU will wire the Room and Board and Center fees money to the Costa Rica Center. The Center Fee includes both all expenses for field trips planned by the Cost Rica Center in Costa Rica and the region as well as the expenses involved in the center’s functioning such as Field advisors, Spanish teachers, Lectures and so on.
Your Center Fee does not include personal travel nor does it include personal expenses, such as snacks, transportation to and from the Center, toiletries, over the counter medication, etc.
It is essential that you arrive at the Center with funds for personal expenses (or a credit or debit card to withdraw money). We generally recommend bringing between $1,000 and $1,500 per semester for personal expenses. How much of it you actually end up spending will depend on your spending habits, the kinds of things that you buy, how often you go out or eat out, etc.
Living with a Costa Rican family is an important part of our program. It plays a key role in practicing Spanish and in learning about the culture.
Home stays are located in urban neighborhoods close to the Costa Rica Center. The houses where students stay have all the facilities needed (electricity, running water, telephone and access to public transportation).
All students will be asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding housing preferences and based on that form, each student will be assigned a host family. The first day of class, a family member will show you the way to the Costa Rica Center in the morning and will pick you up in the afternoon to show you the way back home.
Your host family will provide breakfast and dinner during weekdays, and you will receive a lunch stipend to purchase lunch on school days. On weekends they will provide all three meals for you. Laundry and internet access is also provided by the host family.