1. Tico Time: In Costa Rica, it’s safe to bet that your teacher(s) will be late at least once. Maybe every day. Maybe they won’t even show up to class, because they are on “Tico Time.” This term refers to the extremely laid-back and almost polar-opposite way Costa Ricans (or as they call themselves, “ticos”) operate on a day to day basis. It’s quite a jump from the rushed timelines we all have in the United States, but it’s definitely refreshing!
2. Class Sizes: Universities are fairly small in Costa Rica, and therefore you can say goodbye to giant lecture halls! My biggest class here has about thirteen people in it, and our little classroom is just the right size.
3. Class Times: Another interesting thing is that most Ticos y Ticas go to classes really late in the day. My morning is filled with classes, and that, it turns out, is pretty unusual by Costa Rican standards. Colleges are primarily commuter schools here, so night classes are very popular.
4. Teachers: The professors here are remarkably smart people, and they’re also extremely laid-back. Think about the most relaxed teacher you have had in your college career thus far in your academic career and then multiply that by ten and you’ll be in the ballpark of the teachers in Costa Rica. Classes are usually open discussions where all ideas are welcome.
5. Atmosphere: All of this rolls up into one incredible learning atmosphere. Coming into it, I didn’t expect so much to be different, but the learning environment is much less stressful, much less rushed, and oftentimes much more fun. It’s a lot like a day at the beach–if that beach had homework, of course.
Want to read more about “La Pura Vida” in Costa Rica? Check out “6 Reasons You Should Study Abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica.”