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EF International Language Centers

Language Courses Abroad For adults and students aged 16 & above

Playa Tamarindo Welcome to Costa Rica, a rich, natural paradise with a permanent spring climate. Spend your year in Tamarindo with EF where you will learn Spanish in a relaxed beach town with a youthful nightlife and access to untouched nature. Contact details: EF Escuela Internacional de Español, Tamarindo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica Tel: +(506) 2 653 2095

Lago de Nicaragua

Santa Rosa National Park

Playa Tamarindo


Playa Langosta

Parque Nacional las Baulas

Guanacaste Santa Cruz COSTA RICA Nicoya Peninsula

Pan American Highway

San José Cartago


EF Playa Tam

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Pacific Ocean

Or visit us at EFPlayaTamarindo

Accreditations and Memberships The EF International Language Centers in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Oxford, Manchester, Bristol and Bournemouth are:

The EF International Language Centers in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Oxford, Manchester and Bournemouth are members of:

EF Dublin is accredited by:

The EF International Language Centers in the USA are accredited by:

The EF International Language Centers in the USA are members of:

EF Vancouver and Toronto are accredited by Languages Canada.

The EF International Language Centers in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth are accredited by:

Important Note: Factual information contained in this document is subject to change.

The EF International Language Centers in Brisbane and Perth are members of:

The EF International Language Centers in Cambridge, München, Cape Town and Nice are accredited by:

EF Nice is recognized with the Label Qualité Français Langue Etrangère.

Federation of International Youth Travel Organizations.

All EF Courses are certified by Southern New Hampshire University.

EF Education is an active participant in the Comité Européen de Normalisation.

All EF Courses are recognized by Hult International Business School.

Contents - Playa Tamarindo Section Topic

1 ..........Introduction to EF 2 ..........Welcome to Costa Rica 3 ..........Weather watch 4 ..........Travel & transfer service 5 ..........School information 6 ..........Academics 7 ..........Accommodation & meals 8 ..........Money matters 9 ..........Phones, faxes & Internet 10 ........Health care & insurance 11 ........School activities & excursions 12 ........Transportation 13 ........Expectations 14 ......... Costa Rican culture & living tips 15 ........Adjusting to a new culture 16 ........EF school calendar & holidays 17 ........Checklist

Dear Student Thank you for choosing EF Tamarindo to study Spanish. The staff and I are very excited to meet you. We will introduce you to the school, the town of Tamarindo and help you make this an experience of a lifetime! You will be surrounded by a new culture from the moment you arrive and will have the opportunity to make friends with both Ticos (people from Costa Rica) and fellow classmates from all over the world. The warm weather of Guanacaste offers you an enjoyable atmosphere to study and to participate in all kinds of outdoor activities. EF is surrounded by the rich nature of this exquisite countryside. You can get a sun tan, or go surfing, fishing and diving from its beautiful beaches or head inland into the depth of its verdant jungles. We look forward to meeting you in Tamarindo!

Best wishes, Melisa Soto, School Director EF International Language Center, Playa Tamarindo

1. Introduction to EF EF Education First, welcomes students of all ages from every corner of the world to learn a language at our schools all over the world. Our innovative curriculum uses an intensively structured academic program along with an array of educational and social activities, resulting in a fast and fun way to learn a language. EF students come from diverse backgrounds and like you, they have chosen a program to enhance their language skills as part of their academic or career plan. Many have planned for many years to take advantage of this opportunity. A large percentage of our students apply their new language skills by taking a recognized exam. Successful completion provides the necessary language qualifications for university and for professional endeavours. Many students view their time with EF as a chance to explore educational alternatives whilst honing language and study skills. A great aspect of an EF program is the variety of nationalities at our schools. We welcome you to join this international community where you’ll experience life and language with EF. We take great pride in our continuing dedication to our mission - breaking down barriers of language and culture.

2. Welcome to Tamarindo

3. Weather Watch

Tamarindo, located on the North West Coast of Costa Rica in the province of Guanacaste, is well-known for its spectacular coast lines, golden beaches, and fantastic surfing opportunities year round.

The subtropical climate of the Guancaste province is ideal for outdoor sports, activities and recreation as the average temperature is 92ºF (34ºC) in the summer and 80.5ºF (27°C) in the winter. Sunshine prevails all year round! The winter months (June-November) are characterised by afternoon rain showers followed by nice weather. Rainfall is very heavy in the months of October and November. You should bring sun block for adequate protection from the strong tropical sun.

Tamarindo is a small developing coastal town built on the estuary of a river. While the town is growing quickly, it still maintains a rustic charm, warm open friendliness, and relaxed tropical air. It has many restaurants, bars and nightclubs, several shops with art and handicrafts. There is year round sun and blue skies, with afternoon showers in the rainy season. Temperatures range from between 72ºF (22ºC) and 92ºF (34ºC). A variety of beaches lie close to Tamarindo, each with their own charm, distinction and challenge for the adventurous surfers or keen naturalist. Outdoor activities abound in the immediate area, including: fishing, sailing, snorkelling, diving and kayaking. Giant turtle watching is another popular attraction. Heading inland you can go off-roading on quads, bikes or hiking on foot. There is much to discover in the rich diversity of Costa Rica including the famous Volcano of Arenal and the many natural parks full of biodiversity and wildlife. In conjunction are the adventure of long canopy rides through the parks’ tree tops, the adrenaline of riding high above the jungle’s floor and the breathtaking views from such heights. If you still have energy in the evening you can dance until the early hours to the rhythmic beats of salsa and reggae or if that’s too hectic take it easy relaxing in hot springs, a chilled bar or simply swing away in one of the many hammocks strung between the trees. The school is situated above the Tamarindo town centre, catching the cool breeze as it sweeps off the sea. It is set amongst many beautiful trees and tropical plants and is home to Congo monkeys and several large iguanas which wander around the pool.


Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica

4. Travel & Transfer Transfer Service Arriving at a busy airport in a foreign city can be confusing. EF offers a one-way transfer service from Santamaría International Airport (San Jose) or The Daniel Oduber International Airport of Liberia to the school residence or your homestay. It is strongly recommended that you take advantage of this service and that you try to fly into Liberia as the transfer is much quicker. At least one month before your arrival, you must inform the EF office in your country of the exact details of your flight (date, arrival time, airline, and flight number). This assists us in preparing for your arrival. Before you leave your home country, you should put EF baggage tags on each piece of luggage (including your carry-on baggage) indicating your home address and the address of the EF school. This will help in the location and recovery of your luggage in case it is lost or misdirected during your travel. If you have paid for an EF transfer, please follow the instructions below. If you have arranged for an EF transfer and take a taxi instead, EF will not be able to reimburse you later. When you arrive at the airport on an international flight, look for the EF Greeter after you pass through customs. He or she will be wearing an EF T-shirt and/or carrying an EF sign. The greeter will be waiting for you outside the main arrivals exit. If you have waited longer than

30 minutes, call the EF emergency phone, the number will be given to you by your local EF office before your departure.

when you arrive. The Resident Advisor (RA) oversees student life in the residence and is also available in case of an emergency.

If you are unable to locate the EF Greeter, have missed one of your flights, have arrived on a different flight or date or are lost; you should go to the nearest pay telephone and call the EF emergency number given to you from your local office before your departure.

6. Academics

Students Arriving Independently If you are staying at the residence and are taking private transport to the EF student residence, please try to get there between 12:00 pm and 6:00 pm. An RA will be waiting to welcome you and show you to your room. If you would like to take a taxi, follow the signs

Orientation On your first day of orientation, you will be tested in your knowledge of the Spanish

from the baggage claim area to the taxi stand. A taxi ride to Tamarindo from Liberia will take a little over an hour and will cost approximately $60.00 plus tip. From San Jose it is a little over five hours and will cost up to $200.

language with a fluency test. This testing will measure your grammar and listening comprehension abilities. From the results of this testing, you will be placed into one of eight different language levels.

If you are staying at a homestay and are travelling independently, you should go directly to your homestay. In this case, please try to let your hosts know ahead of time when to expect you.

At this time you will also receive your class schedule. As your Spanish language skills become stronger, you will be promoted into the next language level. You may speak with your teacher if you feel you have been placed into the wrong level. Please note that you will alternate between morning and afternoon classes.

5. School Information Facilities The school is located just outside the main town centre, which means it is very quiet and peaceful. The building is colonial in design and built around a pool where students can relax after classes. The building also has shaded patio areas, terraces and balconies which overlook the school and surrounding nature. We have a barbecue area for students to cook-out on and a small café which serves food and drinks. The school is fully equipped with AC and with wireless Wi-Fi Internet, so students bringing laptops will have Internet access. There is a computer lab which is open for classes and for checking personal email. EF staff The School Director is assisted by an Academic Director, an Administrative Coordinator, and an Activities Coordinator. The Activities Coordinator can assist students in arranging travel plans, organising social events, games and excursions. EF has staff members who live in the school and will help you get settled into the residence


The EF academic programme gives students the opportunity to study the Spanish language and the Costa Rican culture for as long and with as much intensity as suits the student and his or her needs. Intensive, Exam Preparation and General courses of study are available at EF Costa Rica. All students will attend grammar, listening, speaking, reading and writing classes.

Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Special Interest Courses General and Intensive courses include a number of Special Interest classes (SPINS). After your level test you will be given a choice of a number of SPINS. Some of these options require intermediate level Spanish or above. Also a minimum number of students are required for each option. The selection of SPIN classes vary throughout the year so each semester may have a different set of SPIN classes. Course books As part of your academic program, you’ll be expected to buy the books and classroom materials that you will use in class. The exact number of books that you’ll need is determined by your academic level, progress and choice of special interest classes. If you wish to buy additional books you may need more money. The books you buy are yours to keep, write in and take home with you for future reference.

Attendance At the end of your course you will receive a certificate showing that you have attended classes regularly. However, please note that in order to be eligible for an EF certificate, students are expected to participate in class and must attend at least 80% of all classes.

7. Accommodation & Meals You can choose to live in local homestay or residence accommodation. For your comfort and safety please observe the following rules in either accommodation options: ❚❚The taking of drugs is strictly forbidden. Students not respecting this rule will be sent home immediately at their own expense. ❚❚No animals are allowed in the rooms. ❚❚No open flames (candles etc) are allowed in the rooms. No alcohol is allowed on campus. All students must pay a $100 key and damage deposit upon arrival. The deposit will be returned to you at the end of the programme, less any charges for a dirty or damaged room, lost key or other outstanding costs incurred while at the school. Lost keys cost $50.00. Homestay Accommodation Please advise your EF office, or your homestay of your expected arrival time. This will allow the homestay to plan their day accordingly and to make sure there is someone there when you arrive. Any special request for arranging additional nights should be confirmed with your sales office prior to departure. Please note: most homes in Costa Rica are not air conditioned and have no hot water; our homestay families are no exception. Bedroom: You will be provided with bed linens, closet space and towels. You will also have access to a desk or table, which may be in another room. You will share a room with another student unless you specifically request a single room, in which case there is a supplementary fee. Your roommate will be a student of a different nationality, although we are not able to guarantee this year round. Bathroom: Please be considerate of the family’s habits when using the bathroom. Please also be aware that all sanitary products, includ-

ing toilet paper MUST be disposed of in the waste paper bins and NOT down the toilet. Laundry: Your hosts will wash your sheets and towels. They will also do one load of washing a week of your clothes. Please do not wash in the bathroom and dry them in your room. All families have a laundry room, ask them where it is. Inviting friends: Please ask your hosts before you invite friends into the family’s home. Please do not expect your hosts to serve meals to your friends. Damages: Should you cause any damages to your host’s property, inform them immediately and settle the matter directly with them. EF acts only as a mediator and cannot assume responsibility for any damages you have caused. Telephones: Do not use your host’s telephone without asking them first. If you want to make a phone call to your own country, reverse the charges, use a phone card or have your family to call you. Keys: You will most likely be given a key to your home. Please keep it safe. If you lose it, you may have to pay for it, which could be expensive since the locks will need to be changed. Meals: You will have your meals (breakfast and dinner Monday-Friday and all meals on the weekends) together with your hosts at their meal times. If you plan not to eat at home, please let your hosts know ahead of time. Usually dinner will take place at around 7 pm. During school days it is usual to have a second breakfast at the 9.20 am break in order to keep going until lunchtime. For lunch you can buy a snack/sandwich or cooked meal at the school cafeteria. Please respect yoru host’s privacy at lunchtime, except on weekends when you will receive three meals a day. Please do not cook in your host’s kitchen, although you may use their refrigerator to store food and water. Problem solving: Should you feel unhappy with your homestay, please try to discuss any problems with your hosts. You may suffer from “culture shock” because the Costa Ricans may do things differently from what you are used to at home. However, if you have any serious


Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica

problems and are still unhappy after the first week, you should speak to the Adminstrative Coordinator who can give you advice, answer your questions and if necessary may be able to find another homestay for you.

on the school premises, and are surrounded by other interesting international students. We therefore request that you behave respectfully towards others and avoid making unnecessary noise after 11 p.m.

Changing homestays: Should you wish to change your accommodation in any way during the course you must give EF staff seven days notice, if possible. If you do not respect this notice period, you may be subject to a penalty fee.

Swimming pool: There is a pool to enjoy, which closes at 8 pm each night.

Student Residence As an alternative to staying with a homestay, EF offers the option of residence accommodation, located in the same building as the school. Residence accommodation is in shared bedrooms. All rooms have AC, TV, shared bathrooms and access to kitchen facilities. Single rooms are available at a supplementary price. Meals in residence: Accommodation in the residence is self-catering and each student apartment has an equipped kitchen that is shared between four students. Laundry: There are laundry facilities at the school which cost $1 per kilo. General advice for residence living: As a typical Student Residence, it cannot be compared to a hotel, so please do not expect daily maid service and other conveniences that only a hotel can offer. The big advantage is that you stay

EF ID cards: For your own safety we do not allow guests in the school. All students must carry EF IDs and show these to the security guard upon entrance to the school. Onsite staff: There will be a Residence Advisor (RA) living at the residence to whom you can turn if you have any questions or concerns during your stay. Room configuration and amenities: Generally you will share a twin room with one student of another nationality. Your room will contain a bed, closet, desk and chair and a lockable drawer. All rooms have bathrooms shared by four people. Linens: Bed linens are provided. No towels are provided so please bring your own. Cleaning service: Your rooms will be cleaned regularly, but you are expected to keep your rooms clean and tidy. Sanitary issues: Do not throw paper and other products in the toilet. Instead use the waste bins provided. These will be emptied twice daily.

Key and damage deposit: You will be responsible for any damages caused by you, or for the loss of keys. Incoming calls: Family and friends can call you on the school phone and leave a message. There is a student phone for outgoing calls. Post: If you need documents or parcels sent to you, they should be sent to: EF Escuela Internacional de Español Apartado de Correos 86-5159 Tamarindo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica Extremely important parcels (credit cards, phones, iPods, cameras) are better sent by DHL, UPS or Fed Ex. Protect your belongings: If you leave valuables in your room lock them in the drawer provided or in your suitcase. You are responsible for your own belongings. Meals: No meals are provided for students living in the residence except for the first lunch upon arrival. There are kitchens for self-catering purposes. The kitchens need to be kept clean daily by the students in the residence.

8. Money Matters Currency The currency of Costa Rica is Colones, but most places accept dollars including taxis. The approximate exchange rate is $1.00 is equivalent to 500 Colones. Spending money We recommend that you bring approximately $200 in cash for expenses upon arrival and the rest of your spending money in traveller’s cheques. We recommend that you take between $75 and $150 per week, excluding excursions, depending on how much travelling, shopping and eating in restaurants you plan to do during your visit to the Tamarindo area. Don’t forget that you need $200 in cash or traveller’s cheques, $100 for your school deposit and another $100 for your book fee. You will also need to take money for learning materials used in class and for any language proficiency exams you plan to take. Credit cards and ATM There are many ATMs in Costa Rica and all issue


Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica

both currencies ($ and Colones) and take most credit cards. We however recommend that you use Visa or Master Cards. It is advisable to not carry too much cash around with you – remember there are thieves in all countries! We cannot accept payment with credit cards in the school. Banking You can exchange money in most banks and cash traveller’s cheques, but we cannot do this in the school. We will however take traveller’s cheques for payment of activities and school deposits.

No specific immunisation is necessary for Costa Rica. We do recommend the use of insect repellent while you are here, as there have been some cases of Dengue Fever however, there are no cases of Malaria.Tamarindo has several pharmacies where you can buy medicine and personal hygiene products.

Wiring Money Wiring money to Costa Rica is possible with Western Union, but you may have to travel up to one hour to Liberia to pick it up. It is therefore advisable to bring a little extra money in traveller’s cheques

Erika Travel Insurance Because security is EF’s number one priority, we have negotiated a comprehensive tailor-made travel insurance package for EF students with Erika Travel Insurance, an international insurance expert. The policy protects you against expenses incurred through accident or illness, and provides coverage for loss or theft of baggage and personal effects. It also provides coverage against interruption of your EF program due to illness as well as liability and


legal expenses.

9. Telephones, fax & Internet

The EF staff is trained to assist with your Erika Travel Insurance questions and claims. When you are sick or injured the last thing you want to do is deal with such issues. Let us help you!

Telephone All long distance calls must be collect calls, charged to the person you are calling, or charged to a prepaid telephone card.

11. Activities & Excursions Fax All EF schools use fax machines to conduct business. You can send and receive faxes from this machine for a small fee, although you are encouraged to limit the use. Internet The school is equipped with Wi-Fi wireless Internet. Students are highly encouraged to bring their personal laptop computers for email and Internet use on the wireless network. There is also a computer lab that is open for classes and for checking personal email.

10. Health Care & Insurance We recommend very strongly that you take out a comprehensive travel and health insurance policy before leaving for Costa Rica. An insurance policy specially geared to cover you in case of illness while away from home is available with EF. The EF staff can recommend nearby hospitals and doctors offices if you need medical attention. For non-emergencies, you will need to pay immediately in cash or by credit card for any medical service; you will be reimbursed later by your insurance company. If you need medical attention, please ask the EF staff for assistance.

Extracurricular activities contribute greatly to your social and academic success. They not only help you to relax after a day studying, they also provide you with an opportunity to meet and make friends from other classes, other countries and other cultures. Your school’s activities and trips give you the opportunity to apply your life skills, practice Spanish in real situations and familiarize yourself with the Costa Rican culture. The Activity Coordinator can help you plan your free time by organising a variety of EF events and excursions. Many activities in or around the school are free, such as sports tournaments, holiday parties, dances, pool parties and club activities. The cost for excursions beyond EF depend upon the time of year and the number of students that participate. Our schedule of activities and exact prices, as well as cut off dates for signing up for activities, will be posted weekly around the school. Day Excursions Try a new sport or practice one you already know while seeing another side of this outdoor paradise. Snorkelling, kayaking, surfing, quad bike riding, and horse back riding are just a few of the sporty

day excursions we offer. If you want a little jungle excitement, you can go for a canopy ride and experience the tropical jungle from the tall tree tops along a canopy cable system. Examples zT  he average cost for sites around Tamarindo such as kayaking and horse back riding is $30. zL  onger day trips such as the national park Rincon de la Vieja where you can enjoy canopy rides, climbing, and tubing plus various sporting events such as deep-sea fishing, sailing and diving will cost about $65 - $120. Weekend Excursions Group weekend excursions take you beyond Tamarindo to see beautiful untouched nature and for a little or a lot of adventure you can travel to Arenal Volcano or Monte Verde rain forest or a number of other places. Weekend excursion examples The costs of weekend excursions vary greatly depending on the trip, the season, and the number of students. zA  two day trip to Arenal Volcano is $210 while a two day trip to Monte Verde is $180. zC  osts for longer distance trips can be discussed upon your arrival, such as trips to Nicaragua. All EF weekend excursions include transportation, accommodation, and admission fees. Although some trips may include some meals, you should expect to pay for your own meals when travelling with EF. In addition to our programme of excursions, we are more than happy to help individual students or small groups plan their time and activities to make the most of their trips to other parts of Costa Rica or to neighbouring countries. Please Note: Students intending to travel outside of Costa Rica, whether on an EF excursion or independently, should obtain tourist visas when necessary before travelling. Social and Cultural Events The possibilities are endless, but some examples include: parties, barbecues, salsa lessons, work outs at the gym, movie nights, club activities with the staff, international days, and holiday festivals.


Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Sports Sports available are surfing, beach volleyball, pool, tennis, football, snorkelling, swimming and more. Plus, you are free to use any of the athletic and games equipment available at the EF Activities Office. Stop by the office during opening hours or ask the RA on duty. You will be asked to leave your ID card so we can keep track of what you have borrowed. At the EF school: zo  utdoor swimming pool zb  each sports such as frisbee, running, beach soccer, volleyball and surfing zo  ther activities in the area (most charge an access fee.) Five minutes from the school: zF  itness clubs z9  -hole public golf with Par 3 course and driving range zT  ennis zS  occer field (free) zS  ailing zS  norkelling zS  cuba diving z J et-skiing (available 15 minutes from school by taxi)

12. Transportation Public transportation Public bus services are also very cheap. They run everywhere with fixed timetables but infrequently; sometimes they are very crowded. To San Jose by bus, a five hour journey, the cost is only $5. There is a relatively cheap taxi service in Costa Rica which is reliable and safe. The most you

will pay is around $8 to your homestay residence, 15 minutes away. Car rentals Some students choose to rent a car on weekends for private excursions. You can hire a car very easily in Tamarindos, prices vary between $40-$75 a day. All agencies require a valid driver’s license, a credit card and will usually require you to be 21 or over. EF recommends that anyone renting a car (even for short trips) purchase full insurance coverage. The only person authorised to drive the car is the one whose name is on the contract. Do not rent cars for your friends! Flights The Tamarindo area is serviced by The Daniel Oduber International Airport of Liberia, located one hour from the school. There is also The Juan Santamaria Airport in San Jose which serves the whole country and is five hours from Tamarindo. The Administration Coordinator is available to help you change a ticket purchased through EF as well as to help with any other flight arrangements.

13. Expectations Expectations are a normal part of a new experience. Remember that many of your expectations may have been formed by the unreal world of TV and movies. Arrive at your course centre with an open mind! What you can expect from EF: zS  upportive staff available for guidance and encouragement. zA  programme that combines language, special interest and culture-oriented classes. zA  full programme of local activities and excur-

sions at special EF rates. z Accommodation in a homestay. zA  ll designated meals. zE  F Academic Year Abroad Diploma for Academic Year Abroad students with 80% attendance per term and good academic standing and academic records zE  F Course Certificate for International Language Students with 80% attendance and good academic standing. zP  reparation classes and/or materials for appropriate standardised language exams What EF expects of you: ❚❚To develop a greater understanding of the world around you. ❚❚To attend at least 80% of all classes and to do your best in class at all times. ❚❚To be respectful of your homestay hosts, your classmates, your teachers, and your community. ❚❚To keep your room and shared areas clean. ❚❚To speak Spanish at all times. ❚❚To abide by all laws, rules, and regulations of your host country and school. ❚❚As a representative of your country, community and school, the highest standards of responsibility and behaviour are expected What you can expect from your homestay hosts: ❚❚A comfortable, clean place to live. ❚❚Prepared meals or accessibility to food to prepare yourself according to the meal plan. ❚❚Access to the school in approximately one hour by public transportation. All transportation costs are your responsibility.

14. Costa Rican culture & living tips Immigration and visas You will need a valid passport to enter Costa Rica. In addition, you may need a visa depending upon the county you are from or the length of your stay. Please check with the Costa Rican Embassy in your country. ❚❚The following countries DO NOT need a tourist visa if the student is here for 90 days or less: Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Republic of Slovakia, Switzerland, Turkey, countries within the European Union, and USA. ❚❚The following countries DO need tourist visas which can be obtained very quickly by


Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica

contacting the Consulate or the Costa Rican Embassy: Bosnia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macedonia, Mongolia and Thailand ❚❚If your country is not mentioned in the lists above, please contact the Costa Rican embassy or consulate in your country for information. Students can apply for a student visa before their departure at their local Costa Rican embassy. At the moment, language courses are not valid for student status in Costa Rica, but the filed application does allow you to stay in the country. Students need to present a Birth certificate and a Delinquency certificate, among other things, to the embassy. Students will also have to present themselves at the Costa Rican Immigration office in San José every three months. Students staying more than 90 days may also participate in the school’s trips to Nicaragua, Colombia or Panama every three months in order to get a new visa. These very popular trips are normally over three days in length and cost approximately $200. Alcohol The legal age for drinking in Costa Rica is 18. No alcohol is allowed on the EF campus including the residence, regardless of age. Smoking Smoking is considered more and more a health hazard to those who smoke and those around them. Smoking is not allowed inside the EF buildings or in most homestays. Appliances Electric outlets in Costa Rica provide a current at 110 volts. This is the same as in North and South America. Since many other countries operate with a voltage of 220 (Europe for example), you might need an transformer to operate non-American appliances. You might also need an adaptor to change the shape of the plug which is either two flat prongs or three prongs for large appliances. Tipping There is a service charge of 10% included in most restaurants bills. People who work in the hospitality industry in Costa Rica rely on tips from foreigners more so than in many other

countries. You are therefore expected to add an additional $2 or $3 in restaurants and up to between $5 and $10 for a tour. Sales Tax Expect to pay 13% sales tax on your purchases which is normally already included in the price in most stores but not in restaurants. Recommended reading ❚❚Lonely Planet Costa Rica – Great student travel guide for where to go, how to get around, where to stay and what to eat. ❚❚ Frommer’s Costa Rica 2005 Elliot Greenspan (Frommers) – Great travel guide for where to go, how to get around and where to stay. ❚❚ Culture Shock! Costa Rica by Clare Wallerstein (Graphic Arts Centre Pub) – Information on Costa Rican character and culture.

15. Adjusting to a New Culture The EF community is more than a group of students who have come together to learn Spanish. It is also a multi-cultural group of young adults who are eager to share their own culture and learn the culture of their host country and fellow classmates. One’s culture is made up of values, beliefs, arts, traditions and practices of a specific community or population. Our culture affects how we view ourselves, how we relate to others and what we value as important in life. We are often unaware of how much our culture affects our lives. You may have already had some exposure to the new culture you are about to experience. You may have seen television shows, read books, or studied in school about Costa Rica. While some parts of this culture may already seem familiar to you, experiencing a new culture first-hand will prove exciting. You will be meeting students from all over the world who, like you, are looking forward to spending a year learning and living a language, both inside and outside the classroom. As a visitor to a new culture, you may experience periods of fatigue and discomfort when you are uncomfortable. Culture shock is what sometimes happens when we try to meet challenges of our new culture by using the values, beliefs, and attitudes of our own culture. As visitors to a new culture, we must learn that cultural differ-

ences are merely different - not right or wrong. It is a good idea to bring traditional objects from your culture to share with other students and your host to teach them about your country. Tips on coping with change Remember that change does not come without some effort! We humans need a certain amount of stress to motivate us to learn new ways of being. Learning always involves some form of change. You should try the following: zW  hile you might be tempted to surround yourself with things that are familiar to you, try not to isolate yourself by being only with others from your home country. Keep reaching out to your host, roommates and other students. zP  ut off making major decisions such as an accommodation change, until you feel more “at home� with the culture in general. zT  alk to us about your worries or problems. EF Staff are here to help and would prefer to know about any problem you may have so that we can help you. zS  et goals, no matter how big or small, and accomplish them! You will feel good about


Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica

yourself in doing so, and you will reduce the negative feelings associated with culture shock. For example, set a goal that you will speak Spanish at all times. zR  emind yourself that you came to this country to experience a new culture, to meet others and to explore your new surroundings. Relax, take a deep breath and reflect back on the days before leaving your home country when you were excited about your new adventure. Try to refocus this former excitement towards your experience. Keeping a journal One way to keep track of emotions and changes that take place over the year is to keep a journal. By recording your experiences and feelings on a regular basis, you will be able to reduce the impact of culture shock. You will have a record of your academic and personal progress to look back on in days and years to come. Be sure to note changes in: zL  anguage skills zS  chool performance and involvement zC  ampus/host adjustment z Individual learning and growth

Keeping a journal will help to remind you that culture shock is truly a temporary phase of adjustment. Bring pictures and items from home If you have room in your suitcases for some music, a costume, pictures, or some typical crafts, it would be good to show other students, as well as to decorate your room to make it seem like home. We have seen costumes and drums from Korea, music from Austria and traditional dress from France. Please bring pictures of your friends, family and surrounding area.

16. EF School Calendar Academic Year Schedule The Academic Year is divided into three terms. (See the applicable start date below for your program’s specific term and break schedule). January 2012 Academic Year and Semester Program Orientation: Fri 6 Jan - Sun 8 Jan Term 1: Mon 9 Jan - Fri 9 Mar Holiday: Sat 10 Mar - Sun 25 Mar Term 2: Mon 26 Mar - Fri 1 Jun Semester Departure: 2 Jun 2012 Holiday: Sat 2 Jun - Sun 10 Jun Term 3: (Year) Mon 11 Jun - Fri 17 Aug Departure: 18 Aug 2012 April 2012 Academic Year and Semester Program Orientation: Fri 13 Apr - Sun 15 Apr Term 1: Mon 16 Apr - Fri 1 Jun Holiday: Sat 2 Jun - Sun 10 Jun Term 2: Mon 11 Jun - Fri 7 Sep Semester Departure: 8 Sep 2012 Holiday: Sat 8 Sep - Sun 23 Sep Term 3: (Year) Mon 24 Sep - Fri 30 Nov Departure: 1 Dec 2012

School holidays EF International Language Center in Costa Rica recognizes the following public holidays when there will be no classes. If your arrival falls on one of these dates, please check with the school staff upon your arrival for an exact orientation schedule. 2012 1 January – New Year’s Day 5 & 6 April – Easter 11 April – Juan Santamaría Day 1 May – Labor Day 25 July – Guanacaste Day 15 August – Mother’s Day 15 September – Independence Day 25 December – Christmas Day

Holiday: Term 3: (Year) Departure:

Sat 9 Mar - Sun 24 Mar Mon 25 Mar - Fri 31 May 1 June 2013

January 2013 Academic Year and Semester Program Orientation: Fri 4 Jan - Sun 6 Jan Term 1: Mon 7 Jan - Fri 8 Mar Holiday: Sat 9 Mar - Sun 24 Mar Term 2: Mon 25 Mar - Fri 7 Jun Semester Departure: 8 Jun 2013 Holiday: Sat 8 Jun - Sun 16 Jun Term 3: (Year) Mon 17 Jun - Fri 16 Aug Departure: 17 Aug 2013

Important telephone numbers Homestay host’s or student residence name:

■■ E  F Confirmation letter & other EF documents ■■ M  ake sure all EF forms are complete, especially the Health Certificate ■■ Medical and travel insurance documents ■■ Basic medical supplies, any medication you take regularly and a spare pair of contact lenses or glasses if you wear them.

■■ Money in the form of an ATM card (Automatic Transaction Card), credit cards and/or traveler’s checks (Do NOT bring large amounts of cash in any currency!). ■■ Electric adaptor for any electrical appliances you plan to bring with you.

________________________________________ Homestay host’s or student residence address:

________________________________________ Homestay host’s or student residence telephone number(s):

■■ Pencil and/or pen and notebook. ■■ Items from your hometown or country so you can share your culture with friends, homestay hosts and teachers. ■■ Personal sports equipment.


■■ Favorite books, photos and a camera.

EF Sales Office telephone number:

________________________________________ EF School telephone number:

+(506) 2 653 2095 EF School emergency telephone number:

public holidays.

■■ Flight ticket

■■ Local currency for first week and for any learning materials that are not included in the cost of the course.

________________________________________ Please note: there will be no classes on

■■ Passport Photos (4) for EF student identification cards, travel cards and other possible documents

■■ An International Driving License if you are planning on renting a car.

9 Feb 2013

September 2012 Academic Year and Semester Program Orientation: Fri 21 Sep - Sun 23 Sep Term 1: Mon 24 Sep - Fri 14 Dec Holiday: Sat 15 Dec - Sun 6 Jan Term 2: Mon 7 Jan - Fri 8 Mar Semester Departure: 9 Mar 2013

■■ Valid passport (with visa where necessary) It’s a good idea to make copies of these and pack them in your suitcase just in case. You don’t need to carry your passport with you while you are in Costa Rica but you must keep it and your other documents in a safe place while you are in the country.

■■ Luggage correctly labeled 2013 1 January – New Year’s Day 28 & 29 April – Easter 11 April – Juan Santamaría Day 1 May – Labor Day 25 July – Guanacaste Day 15 August – Mother’s Day 15 September – Independence Day 25 December – Christmas Day

June 2012 Academic Year and Semester Program Orientation: Fri 8 Jun - Sun 10 Jun Term 1: Mon 11 Jun - Fri 7 Sep Holiday: Sat 8 Sep - Sun 23 Sep Term 2: Mon 24 Sep - Fri 14 Dec Semester Departure: 17 Nov 2012 Holiday: Sat 15 Dec - Sun 6 Jan Term 3: (Year) Mon 7 Jan - Fri 8 Feb Departure:

17. Checklist

+506 8337 3531 ________________________________________

■■ Homestay or student residence details and emergency numbers.

16. EF school calendar & holidays

17. Checklist

School holidays EF International Language Center in Costa Rica recognizes the following public holidays when there will be no classes. If your arrival falls on one of these dates, please check with the school staff upon your arrival for an exact orientation schedule.

■■ Valid passport (with visa where necessary) It’s a good idea to make copies of these and pack them in your suitcase just in case. You don’t need to carry your passport with you while you are in Costa Rica but you must keep it and your other documents in a safe place while you are in the country.

2012 1 January – New Year’s Day 5 & 6 April – Easter 11 April – Juan Santamaría Day 1 May – Labor Day 25 July – Guanacaste Day 15 August – Mother’s Day 15 September – Independence Day 25 December – Christmas Day

■■ Passport Photos (4) for EF student identification cards, travel cards and other possible documents ■■ Flight ticket ■■ Luggage correctly labeled ■■ E  F Confirmation letter & other EF documents

2013 1 January – New Year’s Day 28 & 29 April – Easter 11 April – Juan Santamaría Day 1 May – Labor Day 25 July – Guanacaste Day 15 August – Mother’s Day 15 September – Independence Day 25 December – Christmas Day

■■ M  ake sure all EF forms are complete, especially the Health Certificate


■■ Medical and travel insurance documents ■■ Basic medical supplies, any medication you take regularly and a spare pair of contact lenses or glasses if you wear them. ■■ An International Driving License if you are planning on renting a car. ■■ Local currency for first week and for any learning materials that are not included in the cost of the course. ■■ Money in the form of an ATM card (Automatic Transaction Card), credit cards and/or traveler’s checks (Do NOT bring large amounts of cash in any currency!).

Important telephone numbers Homestay host’s or student residence name:

Additional notes or numbers:



Homestay host’s or student residence address:

Homestay host’s or student residence address



Homestay host’s or student residence telephone number(s):

Homestay host’s or student residence telephone number(s)

■■ Electric adaptor for any electrical appliances you plan to bring with you. ■■ Pencil and/or pen and notebook. ■■ Items from your hometown or country so you can share your culture with friends, homestay hosts and teachers. ■■ Personal sports equipment.



EF Sales Office telephone number:

EF Sales Office telephone number



EF School telephone number:

EF School telephone number

+(506) 2 653 2095 _________________________________________


EF School emergency telephone number:

EF School emergency telephone number

+506 8337 3531 _________________________________________


■■ Favorite books, photos and a camera. ■■ Homestay or student residence details and emergency numbers.

Predeparture Playa Tamarindo LS 2012  

Predeparture Playa Tamarindo LS 2012

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