• National Theatre, Downtown San José

  • Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles, Cartago

  • ICADS Office, Curridabat

  • Church in Lourdes

  • Central Post Office, San José

  • ICADS Garden, where Spanish classes take place.

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, and many students choose to explore what the country has to offer during their free weekends.


Nicaragua, the land of lakes and volcanoes, offers students the opportunity to experience another vibrant Central American culture.

Shaped by a history much different from Costa Rica’s, Nicaragua offers students a unique perspective on the Central American reality and the problems facing the region.

All students in our semester programs spend one week in Nicaragua, comparing and contrasting their experiences in Costa Rica and hearing different Latin American perspectives on justice and sustainable development. Internship students also have the possibility to do their internship in the picturesque Nicaraguan city of Matagalpa, located in the northern coffee growing region.

Old National Cathedral, Managua, Nicaragua


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).

See what our students are saying about their host family experiences!

  • “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

  • “They try their best to make you feel at home, comfortable and happy. They are open to listening to you if you give them the chance to get to know you. I loved my mom! She was wonderful!”

    Spanish student, Piedmont College

  • “Living with a Tico homestay family is one of the absolute best experiences. You’ll never truly fall in love with the Tico culture without such an amazing experience.”

    Independent Spanish student

Academic Accommodations

ICADS makes reasonable accommodations for known disabilities of otherwise qualified students. It is the responsibility of the student to make their disability status and subsequent need for an accommodation known upon acceptance and prior to arrival to the program.

If you have a disability or condition that ICADS should be aware of or need an academic accommodation, please contact us. We would like to be aware of these issues so that we can improve and adapt our teaching techniques and more effectively place you with families and into independent experiences.


ICADS strives to be an inclusive program, welcoming to students representing a broad range of diversity. We invite students of diverse sexual orientation and identity to apply for and participate in our programs.

Our desire is to help all of our students understand the cultural identity of Central America, which often includes different expressions and understandings of gender, sexuality, and relationships. We invite students to let us know in their homestay preferences if they’d prefer to live with a family that is supportive of LGBTQ students to help us best place our students in the most appropriate homestays and independent projects.


As a student at ICADS you’ll have the opportunity to participate in variety of activities during the time that you are not in class. You will have the opportunity to visit quality local museums, hear from expert lecturers on a variety of topics, taste-test a buffet of tropical fruit in ICADS’s fabulous Fiesta de Frutas, learn Latin dancing, volunteer in marginalized communities, and more.

  • Environmental Issues in Costa Rica
  • Sustainable Development
  • Regional Human Rights Issues
  • Third World Debt and Debt Restructuring
  • Gender Issues in Latin America
  • Costa Rican Health and Health Care Systems
  • Banana, Pineapple or Coffee Plantations and their Effects on Local Communities
  • The Social and Economic Situation of Indigenous Groups in Central America
  • National Parks and their Management in Costa Rica
  • Music and Culture in Latin America
  • Poverty and Housing in Costa Rica
  • Latin dance class
  • Cooking class
  • Fruit festival
  • Trip to a theater or concert
  • Museum visits
  • Trip to Cartago and surrounding area
  • Visit to an organic farm
  • Trip to a banana plantation
  • Helping at a children’s soup kitchen
  • Projects in an immigrant settlement
  • Working with kids in local schools
  • Activities with the homeless or elderly
  • Bed-building projects
  • Others

While you’re here, check out San Jose’s cultural events, farmers’ markets, nightlife, and activities with your host family. Take advantage of weekends to travel to many of the nearby mountains, volcanoes, beaches, and other destinations – both popular and off the beaten track.

In months with a total enrollment of fewer than four students, formal lectures may not be presented, and an individualized schedule of volunteering and cultural activities will be created based on student interests and needs.

Student Testimonials

  • Maureen - ICADS Student
  • Overall, it was fantastic. I had a great time. Everyone was welcoming, and helpful, and friendly. I enjoyed working on my Spanish and learning how education works in Costa Rica. It was a great experience, I really enjoyed my time here. Maureen Monk, Saint Mary’s College

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