Costa Rica

A weekend in Costa Rica: How to Make the Most of It

Kristine Juranitch is a student at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA Service Learning in San Jose, Costa Rica.

For those with a weekend off from service learning and many places to visit, Costa Rica is exciting place to site-see. However, it can also be confusing with all the different options it gives travelers. Therefore, this blog post is devoted to answering a single question: How can service learners make the most of their weekend?

  1. Find out the distances between places, how long you want to stay somewhere, and where you are.

Knowing the distances of something as well as how long you want to stay there is vital for weekend traveling in Costa Rica. Costa Rica’s seven provinces and small size may make it seem like everything is nearby, but that’s not the case. For the best time in Costa Rica, find out how close places are to you, and then base your weekend off of how much time you plan to stay.

For example, there is the beautiful beach and park of Manuel Antonio. However, for someone in San Jose who wants to take a day trip, Manual Antonio is not the best place. This is because Manual Antonio is 3 to 4 hours away from San Jose when using a taxi, and not feasible in a day. Instead, the nearby region of Puntarenas offers the same thing but is much closer to San Jose.

a picture of an incredible turtle shaped island in Puntarenas. This was taken during a ferry tour, which is one of the many things you can do there

a picture of an incredible turtle shaped island in Puntarenas. This was taken during a ferry tour, which is one of the many things you can do there

  1. Keep track of how much you’re spending, and plan your trips accordingly.

With all the sites one can see in Costa Rica, it’s very easy to spend more than you realize. One of the easiest traps to fall into is not doing the conversion differences between foreign currencies. To avoid the trap, it helpful to keep in mind some basic conversions.

For example, one particular one is that about one US dollar is equal to about 500 Costa Rican colons. Another tip is to have something that can mathematically convert money on your person as you plan, or even as you travel.

  1. Find your interests.

A weekend excursion can be meaningless if it doesn’t have your interest attached to it. Remember what interests you currently, but don’t be afraid to find new interests as well. Costa Rica has a wide variety of different types of culture and places, so there’s plenty of interests to satisfy.

I found a new interest in religious decor when I went to Cartago and saw this towering golden statue and alter of the Virgin de Los Angeles in La Iglesia de la Virgin de Los Angeles

I found a new interest in religious decor when I went to Cartago and saw this towering golden statue and alter of the Virgin de Los Angeles in La Iglesia de la Virgin de Los Angeles

  1. Practice Spanish wherever possible.

One of the best ways to get the full experience of service learning is to practice Spanish. Being in Costa Rica for the weekend can be a great place to immerse in the language, but some places are can be more useful than others.

One particular place I found is works well is a museum. They are an excellent place to increase vocabulary and listen to Spanish, just by the sheer amount that they have. Museums are full of Spanish, with Spanish-speaking tour guides and Spanish labels on almost everything. The different displays can make things easy to remember, while also providing a healthy dose of culture and visual learning to help even beginning Spanish students.

This is a beautiful photo of butterflies feeding in the butterfly exhibit in the National Museum in San Jose. Even though there were signs of background information at different parts of the museum, no language is needed appreciate this captivating sight!

This is a beautiful photo of butterflies feeding in the butterfly exhibit in the National Museum in San Jose. Even though there were signs of background information at different parts of the museum, no language is needed appreciate this captivating sight!

So, in conclusion…

There are many ways for service learning students to enjoy a weekend in Costa Rica, and also many ways to make the most of it. Following the tips within the blog can help service learners enjoy their weekends to the fullest extent.

The world awaits…discover it.

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