Those who stay in Costa Rica for a while develop a noble affection for the bean. And nowhere does this affection have as much opportunity to grow than with the national breakfast dish known as Gallo Pinto. It is made with a mixture of black beans, rice, and well-seasoned with onions, sweet pepper and fresh coriander. Soon you will be hooked on this Tico breakfast!
By Central American standards, Costa Rica is an open and inviting place for gay and lesbian travelers, who will find a wide range of networking resources. There is a thriving gay nightlife in San José, but compared to it, fewer amenities exist in other parts of the country specifically tailored to gays. Gay and lesbian couples will find Costa Rica’s many resort communities hospitable, and should not have any trouble locating comfortable accommodations.
Several local publications to consult concerning the gay/lesbian scene include Gente 10, which includes some articles in English, and YKE Noticias Boletín which reports on gay and lesbian politics in Costa Rica and Latin America. You can also consult The New Key to Costa Rica or the Exploring Costa Rica Guide published by the Tico Times for more information on gay and lesbian friendly hotels and resort locations.
In addition, ILISA has a listing of local restaurants, bars and hotels catering to the gay and lesbian community. You can also find out more about the gay and lesbian community in Costa Rica at website http://www.gaycostarica.com.
January 1, New Year’s Day
Easter, Wednesday noon through Easter Sunday
April 11, Battle of Rivas
May 1, Labor Day
July 25, Guanacaste Day, celebrating its annexation.
August 2, Virgin of Los Angeles
August 15, Mother’s Day
September 15, Independence Day
October 12, Day of the Races
December 24, 25, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
While these are the official holidays, during Christmas holiday week between Christmas and New Year’s, and during Easter week (Holy week) from Wednesday noon through Sunday, most of the country is shut down. Not only are the banks and offices closed, but buses don’t run on some days, meaning that you need to plan ahead where you will be, with reservations, and how you will get around.
Each year, ILISA is closed on January 1, the Thursday and Friday preceding Easter, May 1, July 25, August 15, September 15 and December 25. There are no classes on these days and only private classes will be made up.
Our homestay program is a very important part of your overall language experience. We have selected our families with careful consideration with respect to their friendliness and helpful attitudes towards students. We have also selected homes that offer a level of comfort not too far from what you are used to finding in your home country. Our selection process assures that all our students will have a comfortable and pleasant stay in Costa Rica. Although our families receive compensation to provide you a home, they do enjoy having a foreign student as their guest. With a little flexibility on both sides, you will develop a friendly and beneficial relationship with your host family.
Normally you will eat the same food as the family. Unless you have indicated special diet restrictions on your application form, you should not expect your family to make you special meals. (If you did not indicate this ahead of time, let the Homestay Coordinator know so that she can talk with your family about your needs.) If you can’t live without your favorite type of food, we recommend you buy it in a local supermarket. These kinds of foods are normally imported and are very expensive by Costa Rican standards.
If for some reason you are having dinner elsewhere, please be courteous and notify your family of your change in plans ahead of time.
In Costa Rica, families often do not eat together. As a result, dinner does not necessarily have the social character it does in most European or North American homes, i.e., that of a family gathering. Although we have requested our families to share all meals with you, this may not always be possible, and as a result, you may find yourself eating alone from time to time. If you find yourself eating alone too often, please let us know so that we can make the appropriate changes. Sharing meals with your family is one of the best opportunities you will have to practice your Spanish and learn more about Costa Rican culture and values. We therefore encourage you to make the most of this opportunity.
The local phone company (ICE) has an office in downtown San Jose where you can make international calls 24 hours a day by payng with your credit card. They also sell prepaid “colibri” phone cards for larger denominations that are designed specifically for tourists. ILISA keeps phone cards in stock as well.
Direct dial local and international calls can be made by use of money or local phone cards, which can be purchased at the front desk of ILISA and used at the phone there or at the pay phone in front of the school.
The homestay cost covers payment to the family as well as airport transfer to your homestay, a placement fee, administrative overhead, and fees or discounts to agents and universities. Families cannot accept payment from, or make direct arrangements with students. Please do not ask them to do so.
Dutchmen beware: Do not bring any “drop”, “ticos” don’t really seem to like it (the director does!).
A key to maintaining such a fine group of host families is the constant evaluation of the families by our students. On your first Thursday at ILISA you will receive an evaluation form. We kindly ask that you please fill it out completely. If there is anything you feel we should know about, please write it down on the form. Both positive and negative comments will allow us to maintain a well-selected group of families.
All families should provide you, at a minimum, with a quiet place to study, a small desk with sufficient light, a variety of good food, keys to the house, as well as take care of your laundry and make an effort to include you in the family activities. The rest is up to you!
Musts: Film and camera equipment, sunscreen (SPF 15+), pocket alarm clock or watch, comfortable shoes, beach towel, soap/shampoo/toiletries, umbrella, comfortable clothes, dictionary, pen and paper, valid passport, sweater, rain poncho, sunglasses, insect repellent.
Optional:Swiss army knife, cassette tapes, snorkel and mask, aspirin, a cup, flashlight, daypack, hiking boots, ziploc bags, gortex parka and pants, sun hat, small first aid kit, washcloth.
Please keep in mind that you can purchase most essentials in the stores here if you forget anything.