Skip to content

Programs : Brochure

This is the program brochure page.
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Program Description


Costa Rican Landscape

San Jose View from airplane


Travel to Costa Rica over Spring Break for a service learning opportunity of a lifetime!  Students will be exposed to Costa Rica’s culture and learn how social services are developed and provided in this country. Students will learn the importance of incorporating culture into the delivery of social services. The program will include visits to local community programs, participation in workshops discussing a variety of social work topics and site visits in the community. This service learning will begin in San Jose, where we will get acclimated to our destination and engage in lectures about the socio-political climate. For our service project we will visit the small rural communities of Bolson and Ortega where we will be immersed in the true culture, history, economy, and people of the Guanacaste region. We will end the week at Playa Hermosa with a chance to unwind and reflect on the week's learning.


Quick Facts

  • Spring Break 2020: March 7 - March 15, 2020
  • Three cities: San Jose, Ortega, and Playa Hermosa
  • Deepen understanding of social work in a cultural context
  • Cultural activities and excursions including Rio Tempisque River Cruise, Sugar or Coffee Plantation tour, visit to Guaitil Indigenous community, and theatre visits

Application Requirements

To apply for this program, click the "Apply Now" button above. This will generate an online application with the requirements listed below. Please also refer to the "Academics" tab for specific eligibility information. Note: Non-ASU students should consult these instructions before applying.


San Jose View from airplane


Location Details

SAN JOSÉ: San Jose is the capital and largest city of Costa Rica.  In San Jose, we will get acclimated to our destination and engage in lectures about the socio-political climate in Nicaragua and its impact on Costa Rica, particularly the issue of migration, refugees, and university students who are now in exile, labeled “terrorists” for their protests of the government in Nicaragua in April 2018. We will have university dialogues to gain a better perspective of the work being done as well as the social issues and discuss the comparisons and differences we see in our own communities.   

Ortega and Bolson: With a population of about 5,000 habitants, Ortega and Bolson are two small towns located in the Guanacaste region, about 98 miles north west of San Jose. For our service project, we are going off the beaten path to these small rural communities. This is a perfect location to learn about the true culture, history, economy and people of the Guanacaste region as well as the many social and cultural intersections between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. This opportunity allows students to be immersed in a small community and integrate into the fabric of their daily lives. The two communities are surrounded by sugar plantations, the primary economic activity, and where many Nicaraguan migrants work as seasonal laborers. In addition, the towns are near the Rio Tempisque and Palo Verde National park and many of the residents work in tourism on the river, as park guards, or in conservation efforts. Visits to the sugarcane plantations and discussions with workers provides a unique opportunity to gain a heightened awareness of farm labor workers and migrant issues/abuses. We will work with children’s groups, youth and adolescents, women, and the elderly population. Community members and Viva Nicaragua! Center will give talks about Nicaragua and Costa Rica relations and Guanacaste. Prior to our trip we will have discussions about the service work, as travelers will be asked to prepare activities prior to our arrival. Local guides will take us on a boat tour of the Rio Tempisque, we will visit sugarcane plantations and talk with Nicaraguan workers, make tortillas with a local family, and learn about the customs, dance, music and the community’s indigenous Chorotega and Spanish roots.

Playa Hermosa: This beach is located in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica. It is a popular beach where visitors can indulge in swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving.  We will end the week at this local beach to unwind and reflect on the week’s learning. In addition to our service and full cultural immersion. There is a lot of opportunity to practice Spanish and enjoy the beautiful wildlife including monkeys, macaws, alligators, and iguanas!  

Visa Information

It is each student’s responsibility to independently determine if a visa is necessary for travel to any foreign countries visited on this program. Limited information may be provided by the ASU Study Abroad Office, your faculty director, and/or partner organizations/institutions. Where visas are required, failure to obtain a visa may result in your inability to participate and, ultimately, your withdrawal from the program, subject to the terms of the Study Abroad Payment and Withdrawal Policies

Consult this page for additional information regarding visas. If you need assistance securing a U.S. Passport, visit the ASU U.S. Passport Acceptance Office in Tempe.

PLEASE NOTE: Visa requirements for non U.S. citizens may differ from those for U.S. citizens; students who are not U.S. citizens are advised to contact their International Coordinator and begin independently researching the visa requirements for their nationality as soon as possible.


Eligibility Requirements

  • 2.75 minimum GPA


Students will register during the spring semester for the following course:

  • SWU 374: Diversity and Oppression in the Social Work Context  (3 credits)

*Please note that this course counts towards your Spring semester load. If registering for this course will put you in a course-overload situation, you will need to speak with your academic advisor for an override.  

Course Format

The course will be taught during A or C session in-person or online during the Spring 2020 semester.  Students taking the course online will use Canvas to complete the course work.   The course will culminate in Costa Rica over Spring Break 2020 (March 7-15).   For students taking the course in-person, the study abroad portion of the program will be embedded in the C session course during the week of Spring Break 2020 (March 7-15).  



Faculty Directors

Ivelisse Lopez-Gonzalez (Evie)
Watts College of Public Programs and Community Solutions / School of Social Work





Lodging Group

Program Housing

Participant housing is in shared rooms in both hotels and homestays. Breakfast daily and some other meals will be provided. 

Special Considerations

Below you will find information that may help you in planning for your study abroad experience. Early discussions and planning can help to support you in having a positive experience abroad. We invite you to meet with the International Coordinator for this program to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

Physical Considerations

Study abroad participants may find themselves walking or taking public transit abroad more frequently than they are accustomed at their home campus. 

Disability Accommodations Abroad

Individuals with disabilities can and do study abroad, but may find accessibility and accommodation in one of more of this program’s locations very different from the United States. For example, in Costa Rica, building and transportation accessibility is limited. Many buildings remain inaccessible and while public buses may have wheelchair accessibility, functionality of these resources may be in disrepair.

In general, the Study Abroad Office cannot guarantee access to public transportation, buildings, or public sites on this program. Any student who anticipates needing any kind of special accommodation due to a disability should contact the ASU Study Abroad Office early in the planning process to investigate the availability of accommodations (including accessible facilities) on this specific program. Contact the Disability Resource Center and your Disability Access Consultant to include them in the discussion; be sure to give your Disability Access Consultant permission to speak with the Study Abroad Office on your behalf. You can find additional information and resources on our Students with Disabilities page.

LGBTQIA Students Abroad

Students of diverse sexual orientations or gender identities will find that the social climate, laws, and norms of other cultures will often differ from the U.S. If you identify as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer student - or if you are still exploring your identity - you may face unique challenges when traveling abroad. For example, in Costa Rica, LGBTQIA students may encounter discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as public attitudes are generally conservative.

We encourage students who identify as members of the LGBTQIA community to visit the U.S. Department of State website for helpful information about laws and attitudes in this program’s locations, including pre-travel tips and advice on staying safe while abroad. You can find additional information and resources on our LGBTQIA Students page.

Gender Identity Abroad

When traveling abroad, you may find different gender roles and norms than you’re used to. It’s possible that you may be treated differently or be expected to treat others differently based on your (or their) gender identity. For example, in Costa Rica, some women travelers may experience harassment in the form of cat calling and other forms of objectification by local men. Students are encouraged to travel in groups and in mixed company whenever possible.

You can find additional information and resources on our Gender Identity Abroad page.

Racial and Ethnic Minorities Abroad

Students of different ethnic and racial backgrounds may encounter unique challenges transitioning from life here in the United States to life as a student living abroad, including but not limited to access to personal care products and services.

You can prepare yourself for the situations you may experience by researching the ethnic composition of your host country and exploring its history of racial and ethnic relations. We encourage students to start that research on our Racial and Ethnic Minority Students page.


Cost Information

The Program Fee for Spring Break 2020 is $2,510.

Program Fee includes: Housing in shared rooms, daily breakfast, most meals, academic visits and cultural excursions, in-country transportation, ASU faculty support, and international health insurance. Not included: Tuition for 3 credit course, airfare, some meals, passport & visa fees, personal expenses, and miscellaneous items.  Please note that the participant is fully responsible for making arrangements and for all costs of transportation, lodging, food and additional expenses that may be associated with any non-Program activities.

Faculty Directed program participants are also responsible for paying a non-refundable $50 Application Fee, in addition to the Program Fee listed above. All other costs associated with participation in the program are the responsibility of the individual student. Be sure to reference the program cost sheet for information on program fees and any additional estimated expenses.


Funding Your Study Abroad Program

Studying abroad is an investment in your future, which requires careful planning and management. However, the personal, academic, and professional rewards that you will gain from this experience will last a lifetime. You should carefully consider costs, budgets and financing when selecting and preparing for your experience abroad. If you have questions at any step of the process, we encourage you to reach out to your International Coordinator for guidance.

Steps to Financing Your Study Abroad Program

  1. View the program Cost Sheet to find a breakdown of program expenses.
  2. Attend a Financing Your Study Abroad Workshop.
  3. Consider your Financial Aid options.
  4. Search and Apply for Scholarships and Grants.
  5. Exhaust your options by exploring Additional Funding Resources including our Community-Based Funding Guide.
  6. View our  Financing Your Study Abroad Program Handbook for more information, including Payment Information.

Unique Funding Opportunities for This Program

  • ASU Tuition Waiver may be applied on this program to cover the tuition associated with this program.  The ASU Tuition Waiver cannot be used to subsidize the posted program fee.

  • The Watts Study Abroad Scholarship is a brand-new scholarship that was created in order to help encourage students to take advantage of Study Abroad opportunities. This scholarship is open to all undergraduate students enrolled in any major within Watts College. Students must be eligible for in-state tuition and have a GPA of 2.8 or above. Preference will be given for first generation students and those with high financial need. To apply, complete this application and submit it along with a 750 word essay about what you hope to get out of your Study Abroad experience to UCENT Suite 780 or



Links to Additional Resources

*The ASU Study Abroad Office does not officially endorse, administer or monitor the content of these links.

Dates & Deadlines

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.