An alphabetical orientation guide to help you enjoy your stay in Costa Rica at ILISA Language Institute.
For your convenience, a PDF version is also available.
Associations and Clubs
Books on Costa Rica
Embassies & Consulates
Entry and Exit
Gays and Lesbians
Junk to Bring
Newspapers and Magazines
People at ILISA
Preparing for an Immersion Program
ILISA offers a cultural program with between one and three afternoon activities every week. The most popular is the weekly happy hour that occurs every week in a local bar near ILISA. Also featured are weekly dance classes at the school with an outside instructor. We offer cooking classes where you may learn how to prepare delicious Costa Rican traditional food besides learning some new Spanish words. In addition to these steady activities there are many others that cycle throughout the weeks, including culture classes and guided trips to local attractions such as museums, central market and more.
Also, it is very common for students to plan events independently such as going to the Teatro Nacional to see a show (we highly recommend the “Teatro al Mediodía”), taking classes at a dance school (Merecumbé), afternoon coffee breaks, or an evening movie.
Finding your way around in downtown San José may seem a bit confusing at first. Here are some important facts:
Example: An address that’s given as Avenida 1, Calles 3 and 5 means that the place is located on Avenida 1 between Calles 3 and 5.
Addresses are nice, however don’t expect “ticos” (that includes most taxi drivers) to use avenue-street descriptions when going somewhere, especially outside the city center. They tend to use landmarks instead. They’ll say that such-and-such-a-place is “two blocks west of the central post office and half a block north, next to so-and-so’s coffee shop” (100 metros = 1 block). Even more confusing for tourists is when “ticos” use a point of reference that no longer exists. Don’t worry, technology is now our friend and using apps such as google maps or Waze would be very useful. If you don’t have roaming service while in Costa Rica we recommend to download the map of San Jose and use it online on google maps. With these apps is very easy and unexpensive to get everywhere without getting lost. Regarding the address of ILISA, the reference point is the church in San Pedro. Our complete address is “de la iglesia de San Pedro, 400 al sur, 125 al este a mano derecha” (from the church of San Pedro, 400 meters south, and 125 meters east on the right hand side). The entrances to nearly all churches face west. Here our location or just look for us on google as ILISA Educational Experiences.
If you require airport pickup & transfer it is included. The airport return is $35, in the other hand if you take uber back the cost might be between $12 and $15 depending on the time. In case your plane is late and the driver needs to pay extra parking, please note that you will be responsible with the payment for the extra parking.
The majority of allergy problems in Costa Rica are caused by dust rather than pollen. If you suffer from allergies, relief is easily found – most allergy medicines are available over the counter in every pharmacy.
American Express (tel. 2295-9000) has a counter in San José at the Banco de San José on Calle Central between Avenidas 3 and 5. It’s open Monday through Friday from 8am to 7pm. VISA: 2295-9898
While we encourage students to participate in the homestay program, some students who are planning an extended stay or wish to live alone choose to stay in a local hotel, apartment or aparthotel. Options include Hotel Le Bergerac, Ave del Paraíso,Tairona Apartments. Or most of our students who prefer an apartment go directly to Airbnb . There are many options around the area, also you can check with your enrollment coordinator for our apartments (we have 2 apartments located in Los Yoses available for students).
When traveling by plane, you’ll arrive at Juan Santa María International Airport. Your first stop after leaving the plane will be at Immigration. At immigration they will require your intended address in Costa Rica, please bring your host family address, hotel name or Airbnb address at hand.
After passing immigration, go to the luggage claim area. There is a counter for lost baggage, if by chance your bags are delayed or lost.
Your next stop is customs. If you have two bags or less you can usually just walk on through. After passing through customs go with the flow and you’ll reach the exit. If you were using an airport luggage cart, you’ll be required to leave it in the airport. They don’t allow you to take it outside. Do not stop to exchange money or buy Sim cards inside the airport. An ILISA driver will be waiting for you outside. Just look for somebody with a white ILISA sign with blue lettering and your name on it. We will take care of the rest. (note: see “Z last word” at the end of orientation). Please note that the airport wait is up to 1 hour. In case a bag is lost and you need to report it and finish the procedure later, the payment of the extra waiting time (extra parking time) is your responsibility (parking charge is 5 USD/hour).
There is free wifi at the airport that you use to communicate with the ILISA coordinator or with the driver using WhatsApp (this app is very popular and we recommend that you install it before travelling to Costa Rica)